Indian enterprises are graduating to cloud and mobile solutions. While a number of them already have, others are still facing challenges with regards to their legacy infrastructure. Though most of them have tasted cloud for a few of their applications but are still in dilemma of moving their business critical applications to cloud. Factors such as cost, uncertainty, security and control, etc, have affected their decisions. To discuss the opportunities and challenges for adopting these growing trends in the Indian scenario, Dataquest recently hosted a cloud-focused roundtable on how organizations can harness mobility and cloud for business growth. This roundtable was organized in association with Microsoft's partner Softline at the DQ Live conference held in Mumbai.
The discussion was moderated by Onkar Sharma, Senior Assistant Editor, CyberMedia, who highlighted the benefits and concerns attached with cloud and mobility platform.
Moving in Tandem
Just a few years ago, it was difficult for a technology like cloud computing to make its way in the Indian organizations because many of them was not comfortable in moving their workloads out of their secured IT premises. Every vendor was struggling hard to convince CIOs/IT-heads to move out of the convention thought.
The panelists were in consensus that the scenario is changing now. Today industry after industry is dipping their toe in cloud plunge. One can see cloud computing initiatives are becoming one of the major part of IT departments today and are expected to cause the most disruption in the future. IDG predicts the majority of cloud computing's disruption will be focused on improving service and generating new revenue streams.
"While cloud and mobility are becoming a reality, it is obvious that business complexities at your end might force you to think whether you need cloud or not. But it is not a choice today. It is required if you need to compete with your competitors. Partners like us do have a role in guiding you the best possible way to implement and deploy cloud", says Atul Ahuja, Managing Director, Softline Services.
At the roundtable most of the CIOs, however, agreed on the benefits related to cloud and mobile solutions. But existing infrastructure that involved a lot of investment to move to the cloud barred them from adopting next-gen cloud solutions. "Our existing infrastructure coupled with complex business processes sometimes bars us from embarking the cloud solutions. While we have used cloud solutions for many of our departments, doubts with regards to legacy continue to haunt us", says V Sendil Kumar, vice presidnet of IT, Shriram Value Services.
Most of the CIOs present in the discussion felt that mobility and cloud are a step further in achieving organizational goals. "Cloud and mobility not only help in staying productive but also helps them stay competitive and relevant", said Prakash Shah, CIO OF Deepak Industries.
Many CIOs believed that flexibility of cloud makes it an affordable for mid size companies as they can pay according to its usage. If their business expands they do not have to invest on additional hardware and can scale up their IT workloads without incurring huge cost.
The other major trend that has changed the rules of the game is Mobility. Enterprises across the country are now waking to the true business value that mobility can bring to them. However, still a lot of people believe it to be a nascent concept and surrounded by a lot of myths and skepticism.
Security remains an unabated challenges
Security continues to haunt CIOs from each vertical when it comes to adopting cloud and mobility solutions. "We are still concerned about the security of enterprise data when we move to cloud. The pressure on us is to make sure that the enterprise network is not hacked as we deal with sensitive data. How can solutions providers ensure security to us on the cloud? We do not get satisfactory response from solutions providers on this", said Ashish Desai, CIO Chemical Sector for Aditya Birla Group. There were other CIOs who shared their concerns about security of cloud solutions and sought answers from Softline and other colleagues in the industry.
Atul Ahuja from Softline tried to address the queries of the participants and welcomed the ideas and suggestions from CIOs.
"We are a law firm where security of customer cases is our business. We can not risk our data on cloud. While use it within the firewall, we make sure that it is secured and is not leaked through gaps", said Subroto Panda, CIO of Anand And Anand, a law firm.
In this regard, some of the CIOs believe that they had created a strong and robust security framework, but the moment employees started bringing their own devices security issues started to pose a challenge and it became difficult to create a balance between convenience and control of BYOD for the employees.
Unlike the other industries, financial services companies too first leveraged on mobility as communication and connectivity enabler. There have been interesting applications of mobility and social in the financial services sector, which are emerging at a rapid pace and have been seeing traction amongst customers and companies. For a bank it would be beneficial to provide mobile-based personalized services like opening of account, fund transfers, payment of bills, etc, as today's customer is ready to pay premium for services which are available round the clock, anywhere and anytime.
THE LAST WORD
Echoing similar sentiments, CIOs agreed that mobility as a trend has also come a long way. Companies like Flipkart, WhatsApp etc have shown how mobility can help small companies emerge as powerful business houses. So it is important for IT-Heads to determine how to leverage cloud and mobility at their workplace and capture new forms of competitive advantage.
At the same time, instead of deploying robust security within the company, CIOs should engage with employees and provide them with latest technologies to make their work simpler and easy. Whereas vendors should try to strengthen their security architecture, so that enterprises can freely welcome these revolutionary technologies.