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Bob Worrall, Juniper CIO: Cloud Migration ‘Inevitable’

Approach cloud migration as just another IT project? You’re dead — you just don’t know it yet.

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What are the advantages to enterprises of moving to the cloud?

For me they’re all around agility and time to market. Most legacy IT organizations have a lot of shackles in terms of old ERP systems and old custom-built applications that are really hard to maintain. Moving to the cloud gives IT organizations the ability to throw out the old and start anew, and get some of the speed that the cloud and Internet technologies bring, which is a real game-changer.

Another benefit of moving to the cloud for legacy organizations is it gives their IT professionals who are motivated and ambitious an opportunity to learn something new and to become excited. It’s not often that IT folks get to play with new technologies, and yet that’s what they love to do. So having your best people aligned to a cloud transformation can be a big morale boost.

Are there downsides to a cloud migration?

If there is one, it’s that a cloud solution won’t necessarily be less expensive. You have to understand there’s a tipping point where at a certain scale it might be cheaper to run on premise than in the cloud.

Offsetting that risk may require new skill sets in IT. For us, one has always been around vendor management. With cloud computing, you have to be really careful with those monthly bills and acknowledge and invest in the skills necessary to review the monthly bills and keep your usage charges appropriate. So there’s an investment of time and effort there.

How about integration challenges?

That’s another area you have to invest in the skill sets and technologies to get the benefits. We’ve been saying for years that IT is moving from an organization that used to build things to an organization that now integrates things. If you’re in the business of integration, that implies you have some piece of middleware or piece of technology that stitches all of this together and delivers it seamlessly to the end users. That skill set and technology is the center point of our solution and our approach.

What’s next in the world of cloud computing?

It’s becoming very competitive, and I think we’ll continue to see more legacy applications like ERP, supply chain, and all those classic big IT applications move to the cloud. It’s inevitable. And migration tools making it easier for people to move legacy applications to the cloud will be a big area of investment.

What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give IT professionals considering a move to the cloud?

You have to get top executives in the business involved in the transformation. Migrating to the cloud isn’t simply moving a bunch of stuff to a third party. It involves legal, security, IT, engineering, finance – all these groups that are going to have concerns. So you have to build a business case and lay out the long-term advantage and strategic benefit of a move to the cloud for the company. If you approach a migration to the cloud as just an IT project, you’re dead — you just don’t know it yet.

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