Enterprises Will Move Completely to Cloud in 5-7 Years

Ravi Naik, Sr VP and CIO, SanDisk, believes it is going to take around 5-7 years for enterprises to completely migrate every single component to the cloud. 

Cloud has been permeating enterprise in phases. When will we will witness the next phase when enterprises move their core infrastructure on to the cloud? True. I look at cloud having three tiers. Tier one was when there were offerings which were referred to as SaaS, even before the term ‘cloud’ was coined. There were companies that adopted solutions like ADP and payroll management. Tier two is what we are experiencing right now in terms of the applications and solutions being used by enterprises. These include solutions like Service Now for ticket management, Success Factor for HR information management, and Salesforce CRM. This tier has a significant adoption of cloud in the enterprises, and I believe this tier will continue to grow. Tier three is about the core enterprise - the core infrastructure services like compute and storage. In my opinion it’s going to take quite some time for enterprises to completely migrate from their existing enterprise, IT components, and their in-house data centers to the cloud infrastructure service providers. So how much would “quite some time” be? I am going to differentiate. For enterprises which are traditional IT organizations, it is going to take around 5-7 years to completely migrate every single component to the cloud. However, when you look at Web2.0, e-commerce businesses, that migration is happening now. But what about verticals like BSFI, Telecom, and Healthcare? When will they be ready to migrate to the cloud? I agree that privacy and security are the concerns for these verticals. But I have come around, because I never believed that I would migrate my infrastructure to the cloud. If someone would have asked me if I would move my email completely to the cloud, I would have said no because of security concerns. But that posture has shifted. In fact, I have taken an initiative to take our entire global email and move it to Microsoft Office 365. So from saying no to cloud, four years later I am actually pushing for this change. I believe that data is more secure in the cloud than it is in my own data center. I firmly believe on-premise data centers would soon become archaic. As a CIO, what do you think are the biggest challenges and how are you planning to overcome them? The biggest challenge is really keeping up pace with technology changes. The challenge is in terms of cloud service adoption. Traditional IT has its own way of running business, the data center, and the applications. Migrating everything to the cloud is a psychological challenge that all the team members encounter. What I like to tell my team is that IT is neither about technology, nor about cool toys, it is about bringing productivity and value to the business and customers and that’s what we do. Is cloud a threat to CIOs? Is the CMO encroaching on the CIO’s turf? I don’t look at these as threats. From our organization’s perspective, we are not building walls around our data centers applications; we are embracing cloud solutions and offerings. The business comes to us and we are moving from being technologists to being arbiters of technology. We are the ones managing the cloud service providers. So the portfolio is shifting, the approach is changing, and the role of the CIO is changing as a result. The organizations that are flexible to this change are the ones that are going to thrive. We will be playing more of a marketing role, more of a business analyst role. I like to spend time with my business, not the infrastructure.  I can spend time with my team understanding how I can provide more data and analytical reports to them so that they can help manage the inventory better. What is the future of flash? I believe that flash will continue in its growth trajectory globally with the advent of new technologies -- eCommerce, Web2.0, wearables etc. Almost everything you touch today has flash memory embedded in it be it an automobile, a thermostat or a smartphone. So, the growth and adoption of flash is going to grow. I think there is significant oppurtunity in India for companies to leapfrog technology. When the likes of Flipkart build data centers, they don’t have to go to the spinning disks. They can leverage flash memory from the beginning itself. There is a significant drive to bring government services to citizens online, mostly on the mobile phones. At the back end, there will be a huge demand for storage, which would put pressure on the performance needs of a handheld device. When you are on a smart phone, one expects data instantly. One would hate to see the spinning disk lag causing the data to be delayed. This is where the flash disk data center comes into place. It enhances performance and reduces latency. I think the market is ripe for this.


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