There is a wary sense of d\u00e9j\u00e0 vu among CIOs when the talk turns to cloud. Having bought a boatload of half-baked products over the years, experienced technology leaders are not easily impressed by the Next Big Thing.\n \n \n \n With outsized hype but only modest deliveries so far, cloud computing promises to move applications and systems around to whatever locations and platforms make the most business sense. Already it\u2019s widely accepted as a fundamental, long-term shift in how IT will be delivered in the future.\n \n Yet as our cover story (\u201cClash of the Clouds,\u201d) explains, there are big hurdles to clear before we stroll through the heavenly cloud gates. Those include a lack of standards, vendor lock-in and uncertainty around network uptime, security and data access. The biggest worries of all are centered on what one CIO friend calls \u201cThe dreaded \u2018I\u2019 word: Integration.\u201d\n \n Nowhere is the picture murkier than around integration of cloud services. It\u2019s safe to say no large company will outsource everything to the cloud, and even midsize firms aren\u2019t likely to end up with 100 percent cloud-provided IT for quite a while. So hybrid models of on-premise and off-premise corporate systems will need to flourish.\n \n As CIO Ken Harris of Shaklee points out in our story, integration capabilities are the key to any cloud vendor\u2019s future prosperity. \u201cThey don\u2019t have an effective business model if they can\u2019t rapidly and conveniently connect with customers\u2019 on-premise systems,\u201d he says.\n \n Shaklee already runs several software-as-a-service applications and has invested in third-party tools to integrate those systems. \u201cI\u2019d have to integrate them even if they were internal,\u201d Harris notes, but the difference with cloud-based technologies is that off-site systems add in a network reliability element beyond the CIO\u2019s control.\n \n The inner workings of cloud providers can pose another sort of problem when they cloak themselves in mystery, adds CTO Marty Colburn of Finra (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). In looking to move his e-mail systems to a cloud vendor, he was frustrated by one vendor\u2019s refusal to reveal details about its own architecture. Still another tricky aspect of cloud is its potential to fuel a new kind of \u201cshadow IT,\u201d where users armed with corporate credit cards can easily set up systems without you knowing.\n \n For a thorough exploration of all these cloud hurdles\u2014and a look at how your colleagues are clearing them\u2014check out our story. And let us hear from you about the impact of cloud on your business.