Kathy Gibson is at IDC Cloud and Data Centre Roadshow in Sandton – CIOs are facing new issues and challenges as cloud computing becomes more pervasive, and frequently comes into conflict with data centre operations.

One of the main drivers for cloud is the challenge of managing cost and investment, says Jonathan Tullett, research manager: IT services in Africa at IDC.

Modernisation of both infrastructure and people is a big challenge as CIOs seek to position their strategies and technologies to match new business needs.

Migration and integration of workloads and data gets more complicated as could become pervasive. “It is supposed to make things simpler, but it’s more complex than ever,” Tullett points out.

“We also need to find out how to take advantage of some of the new technologies coming down the line: how do we justify it?”

Getting the right skills in place is an ongoing issue. “We are very short of skills in this country, and throwing money at it doesn’t really help.”

So CIOs are having to position themselves for new technology skills and management.

Storage is always an issue, and CIOs have to find ways to optimise storage.

Underpinning this are vital issues or risk, continuity and security.

“Transformation requires co-ordination – you can’t do it on your own,” Tullett points out. “When we talk about digital transformation, we mean the whole company.”

Worldwide, most organisations are doing it wrong, he adds.

The ultimate goal is to have an independent digital group that supports new operating models, and about 10% of organisations have achieved it.

Just 13% of companies are at the earlier step of forming collaboration mechanisms that are largely passive and enable information sharing.

“But the question comes down to whether you are playing the right game at all,” Tullett adds.

“Companies still tend to compete in the old way. When we feel threatened we fall back on the things we know.

“We have been saying for 30 year that IT needs to be better aligned to the business: the problem is that the perception that business ad IT are not aligned was typically perceived to be business’s fault. But maybe IT was responsible for some of that as well.

“Maybe IT hasn’t been articulating its value proposition.

“The focus now is entirely on business value, so the people still talking about technology are falling behind.”

The battle lines are drawn, Tullett adds: it’s IT versus line of business, and there are point of frustration – or sticking points – that are emerging.

IT is frustrated by the failure of the business to leverage its existing infrastructure. “IT wants to know why business is putting things in the cloud, or duplicating it.”

IT is frustrated that the business doesn’t understand about security, and is putting the business at risk. “It’s a security nightmare.”

IT is frustrated about lack of integration, technology debt and lack of awareness of processes.

Line of business, on the other hand, has other concerns.

“Business doesn’t understand why IT is an obstacle to their productivity, and preventing them from being agile,” Tullett says.

It is frustrated that IT fails to understand business value and time to market.

“Most of all, why are you actively harming our customers’ experience?”

With these two different camps – and which are each defending what they perceive is important – there will be conflict.

But the pendulum is swinging towards line of business – because their needs map back to business objectives. For IT, the only part that maps back to the board is risk.”

Like all pendulums it will swing back and there will be balance, Tullett adds.

He points out that infrastructure as a services (IaaS) is growing, but it’s not really cutting into hosting.

Software as a service (SaaS), on the other hand, is growing rapidly too – and will overtake on-premise software within the next few years.

“What we are seeing is a number of software vendors starting to view software sales as cloud-first – a SaaS sale with an on-premise agent.

“In fact, the tipping point is coming and it might be sooner than we think.”

The rate at which software is going to move to the cloud is accelerating in every software category – growth rates are at least eight-times the growth of on-premise software and as much as 15-times in some categories.

The value proposition of workload migration is healthy, and shouldn’t be a threat, Tullett adds.

What’s complicating it is the many flavours of cloud that are available; and the fact that different cloud providers are trying to protect their own territory adds to the confusion.

“What we need to do is uncouple logic and data,” Tullett explains. “You need to be able to move your logic or data around as it make sense. If you can’t do that because it’s trapped in a silo, then you have failed – and that is the essence of vendor lock-in.”

Some types of cloud lock-in are happening, but it’s not necessarily all bad, Tullett adds. “You can live with lock-in if it works for you. But understand that it is lock-in. You need to understand the strategic value and emphasise mutual benefit.”