Cloud

Stop asking the CIO for her cloud priorities

We keep asking CIOs about the cloud, but at least half of all cloud spending isn't controlled by the CIO.

Image: iStock/maxsattana

Lies, damned lies, and cloud statistics. While it's abundantly clear that the cloud is a big deal, there's lots of misinformation about who is winning. The problem, it turns out, is that we keep asking the wrong people.

Years ago Billy Marshall declared, "The CIO is the last to know." Nowhere is this more true than with cloud computing spend, which starts with developers and often ends with the lines of business they serve.

Hence, as exciting as it may be to trumpet which vendor this or that CIO prefers, as a recent J.P. Morgan Research CIO survey does, the best source of information is dollars. Namely, how many dollars the different cloud companies are bringing in.

Who is driving this cloud car?

This thought struck me when I read this tweet by 451 Research analyst Donnie Berkholz:

donnieberkholzcloudtweet.jpg
Image: Twitter/Donnie Berkholz

I've cautioned against reducing the CIO to the dustbin of history, given that IT and lines of business increasingly partner to get things done. But it's still absolutely true that the cloud is largely a way to get stuff done without having to involve the CIO.

SEE: Public cloud crushing private cloud in growth and revenue (TechRepublic)

There are a number of great reasons to use a public cloud provider like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, but the biggest one is arguably convenience. Developers must move fast to support businesses that must move even faster. There's no time to wait on hardware provisioning or other forms of permission.

CIOs have tried to catch up by investing $7 billion into private cloud initiatives last year, as Wikibon estimates. Here's a reality check, however: AWS earned more revenue last year than the entire private cloud market.

Dollars and sense

So, again, it's nice to know that CIOs are putting their trust in these mega-vendors to steer them through a cloudy future, and finally recognize AWS as belonging on that list:

megavendorsjpmorganchase.jpg
Image: J.P. Morgan Research

It's also interesting that these same CIOs expect to spend less with Oracle, HP Enterprise, and IBM as they move more aggressively into cloud computing.

SEE: CIOs keep trying to defy cloud gravity (TechRepublic)

But let's be clear: CIO budgets aren't picking winners in this cloud race; developers, and the lines of business they report into, are. Or, at worst, the LOB is responsible for half the ultimate cloud equation, if we follow Berkholz's survey.

Public cloud is already bigger than the private cloud, and growing much faster. The CIOs keep trying to prop up their legacy infrastructure by calling it private or hybrid cloud. But the CIOs risk irrelevance if they continue to ignore the developer tea leaves, which keep screaming "AWS!" and "Microsoft Azure!"

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    About Matt Asay

    Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.

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