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Use young lawyers and more thoughts from CIOs moving to the cloud

One of the biggest roadblock to adopting the public cloud for Rich Roseman, former CIO at 21st Century Fox had nothing to do with bandwidth, vendor-lock in or security. It had to do with lawyers. Specifically, old lawyers who couldn’t adapt their contracts to the new world of the cloud.

“If your attorneys are in their 40s, 50s or 60s, you’re hosed,” he said at the eCloud Summit, an event hosted by Actifio in Austin, Texas. He added that younger lawyers still offered hope and recounted a story of a time when he was the CIO of an organization transitioning from PeopleSoft to Concur, a Software-as-a-Service (Saas) provider. The companies spent a year arguing a single point in the negotiations over who would cover the credit monitoring for the roughly 50,000 employees that would need the service should the Concur service experience a security breach.

At that point, Roseman said that he took a look at the cost of covering the employees, which his company already did, and the cost of paying the lawyer for the negotiations for that year and realized that this single point was beyond silly and they just did the deal. But it’s that sort of mentality that can suck the agility out of bringing on a cloud provider if you aren’t careful.

Roseman, who is currently consulting in the industry, also offered other words of wisdom, pointing out that while many CIOs cite security worries as a reason to avoid moving to the cloud, he’s fairly certain that the SaaS vendors and service providers he buys from have better, more hardened security in place than his own internal operations. However, after Roseman went on, I moderated a panel of six CIOs who had a far more pessimistic viewpoint.

Perhaps it was because many of them were in charge of IT operations at major financial institutions, but many of them weren’t moving many of their workloads to the public cloud — and by public cloud, they meant service provider clouds from Verizon or IBM, not Google or Amazon. Michael Simone, managing director and global engineering head at Citi, explained that his organization is a big believer in the benefits of moving to the cloud, so it is building an internal one.

Because of the regulatory environment and concerns about data security — among other issues — Simone can’t take his workloads outside Citi, but the agility and ability to charge particular departments for computing are reasons to implement an internal cloud. Agility came up often on the panel, although it seemed that in many cases, there could be too much agility. John F. Giattino, SVP and Group Technology Manager for Wells Fargo, said that in some cases the IT department found itself moving faster than the compliance department and needed to slow down. Even Mike Kail, CIO at Yahoo, found himself moving faster than the culture the internet giant sometimes was comfortable with.

His advice to the roughly 300 people in the audience was to find ways to change the culture in the business you’re working in so they have business reasons to adopt the cloud. His suggestions included moving from an attachment-based document culture to a real-time collaborative one.

Yet the panel ended on a somewhat optimistic note. Most of the panelists agreed that most workloads would end up in the cloud in five or 10 years with only a few dissenting, mostly for security reasons or because a new technology shift might make the cloud less relevant. Maybe in a decade we’ll be having panels about the shift to decentralized blockchain-based architectures?