by Maryfran Johnson

CIO Magazine Goes All Cloud, No Fluff

Apr 11, 2011
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Editor in chief of CIO magazine Maryfran Johnson shares highlights from our special cloud computing issue.

“Cloud is in every conversation I have these days,” the CIO of a major Wall Street firm told me recently, sounding surprised. “Last year I was making fun of it. Now we’ve become a cloud provider. I’m still a little amazed.”

In just a year, this CIO’s private cloud had turned into a revenue-generating service attracting growing numbers of customers. Like many of the demanding, tire-kicking executives we talked to for this special issue on the wisdom of clouds, this Wall Streeter has become a cloud believer.

Against all odds—in an IT industry that swoons over one overhyped technology trend after another—something real is going on here. There is wisdom in taking a serious look at what cloud has to offer your business.

What you’ll find in these pages is basically wall-to-wall reality, or, as our Special Issue Editor David Rosenbaum calls it, “All cloud, no fluff.”

“How Cloud Computing Rose From Lehman Brothers’ Ashes,” by former Wall Street Journal reporter Bill Bulkeley, gives us the inside story of how the bankrupted Lehman Brothers is being oh-so-carefully dismantled in the cloud. It’s also an illuminating tale of business agility and creative risk-taking by the IT leader in charge of this almost surreal assignment.

For a punch of cold hard calculation, try “What the Cloud Really Costs: Do You Know?,” which points out how tough it can be for an IT organization to dispassionately stack up cloud computing against its internal operations. The story delves into capacity planning, integration costs and other real-world practicalities that affect the bottom line of cloud decision making.

Of course, for some companies, the cloud decision is almost a no-brainer. In “How Cloud Computing Promotes Business Growth,” you’ll find four case studies of fast-growing companies using cloud to scale quickly to seize market opportunities. As one IT executive explains it, “We’ve pushed ourselves to place a big bet on how we think the future will unfold.”

And as it unfolds, CIOs need to “get smart and get specialized,” contends Stanford University Professor Timothy Chou, who tells you how to do just that in “Why Cloud Computing Is Not Just a New Name for Outsourcing.” Chou, who once ran Oracle’s On Demand business, points out that the lessons of all those IT mega-transitions of the past (from mainframes to client/server to Web) can guide CIOs’ thinking now.

For CIOs, it’s a time to be thoughtful, and very, very careful.

As any pilot can tell you, real dangers sometime lurk in those pretty, fluffy clouds.

Maryfran Johnson is the editor in chief of CIO Magazine & Events. E-mail her at