Posted on June 15, 2015

CIOs in the Middle East today face complexity on two fronts when it comes to addressing problems that the network creates for the organization - the complexity of the IT environment and the complex mix of potential solutions to evaluate.

One solution may be the adoption of cloud, but the issue of cloud control and connectivity is a concern for the majority of CIOs today. Fayez Eweidat (pictured), regional sales manager, MENA at Brocade provides his insights below on why cloud procurement needs to start with the CIO. Cloud, in its various forms can deliver almost immediate, cost effective access to the level of IT services required by a business or specific business unit. The potential benefits for growing businesses, or for those seeking greater cost-efficiencies, cannot be disputed. It is no wonder then that in a recent global survey conducted by Brocade, over half of CIOs say their organization uses public cloud services. 

What is a concern though, is when business units commission the cloud without involving IT and without any formal guidance or policy around how to manage and use the cloud. Over a third of CIOs admit that while cloud adoption without IT’s involvement isn’t allowed in their organizations, there is a good chance it might happen without them knowing. If deployed without proper checks in place, the organization’s infrastructure could be impacted and slowed by the unexpected usage, and managing the network becomes increasingly difficult in the face of unpredictable demand.

Time for a New Approach

The issue is not so much the cloud but rather the business’ attitude and approach to its adoption. The ‘right’ cloud can greatly assist an organization or business unit in achieving its goals. The ‘wrong’ cloud can accelerate and intensify the very issues its adoption was designed to address.

CIOs need to address cloud demands with the business unit leaders and become their ally in the cloud. While over 80 percent of CIOs admit to having concerns over their job security due to unsanctioned cloud, in reality the CIO’s role is even more critical if cloud adoption is to be successful. Ensuring that the organization can successfully connect to the cloud is a key driver of success. If CIOs understand what drives each business unit to consider cloud, they can become internal cloud consultants, rather than combatants. They can identify the right services, with the right Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and ensure the owned infrastructure can support cloud connectivity.

Public vs Private Cloud

CIOs probably already know what their business unit leaders want from IT. The issue is how to provide it to them in a way that best serves the organization as a whole.

Cloud services may be able to resolve some challenges, but security, legislation and commercial sensitivities mean third party cloud is not the panacea for all infrastructure ills. IT heads also need to ensure that the current infrastructure can be optimized to ensure cloud connectivity. Business-led networking means addressing the issues of the owned network, as well as looking to cloud-based solutions. Private (owned) cloud solutions can provide a way of closing the gap between business unit time-scales and deployment realities. They can also require a level of investment the business may not be ready for, and a period of planning and testing to ensure the right solutions are deployed.

To give organizations the innovative, user centric and software-defined infrastructure it needs, CIOs need to reconsider their entire network - from storage through the data centre and out to the LAN and WAN requirements. Network technology has evolved. For example, deployment of fabric network solutions, Software-Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) can ensure business needs and goals are met while supporting cloud connectivity. These solutions can also support any scale-out as part of a longer term transitional approach, to meet the organization’s immediate needs as well as the mid and longer term goals.

What Now

Taking control of cloud investments while supporting business units’ requests for cloud is an important first step. It will alleviate pressure on the IT department and owned infrastructure, and reduce the risk of security and legislative breaches. Importantly, it also helps provide a clear picture of what is really required from the owned infrastructure to meet the organization’s immediate and long term goals. Cloud is one part of creating the ‘New IP’ network - one built on transitional technologies brought together to provide an infrastructure that is agile, affordable, and automated. It is imperative for CIOs in the Middle East to get ahead of the curve and build this New IP network.  One that will scale with the organization and not lag behind it.