Kia Behnia

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Why Innovation Is Still Cloud Driven

Thoughts on innovation for 2013-2014

When I was asked about innovation, the first thing I did was review my research to get an idea of what my peers in the industry were predicting for our parallel IT futures. Not surprisingly, they all reflected the same sentiment: the cloud is growing, and employees will continue to bring their own devices (BYOD). BYOD is a trend that has remained a hot topic, and point of controversy, throughout the year. Now that we're entering the second half of 2013, I think we can safely say that those predictions have been realized. Because the cloud is the common theme throughout all innovation and tech conversations, I am going to focus solely on where I believe the cloud is heading. At this time I would like to take this opportunity to look even deeper into the crystal ball and provide some insight into where the cloud conversation is heading for the remainder of 2013 and 2014.

1. Cloud Security will remain a top priority, even though there's nothing to be afraid of.
Good IT people are always going to be skeptical when it comes to safeguarding data and, frankly, they should be. But the typical adoption tactic, especially by larger enterprises, is the "wait and see" approach. This will not work in today's IT environment, especially in regards to the cloud. Employees are already downloading and using ad hoc apps that are cloud based, and no matter what IT does or says, this will keep happening. What IT needs to focus on, rather than the gloom and doom of cloud security, is cloud management. If one can effectively manage the cloud, its ecosystem, and all the applications that are included, security becomes a built-in asset, all safely controlled under IT's umbrella.

2. Cloud adoption among employees will not slow down, regardless of what IT says.
As I mentioned above, BYOD is here to stay, and no matter how hard IT continues to try and banish public cloud apps, such as Dropbox or Amazon EC2, from employees devices, employees will flat out refuse and continue to use them anyway. That said, public cloud services will continue to win in the workplace, forcing IT to face the inevitable, get on the bus, or get out of the way.

3. Evolve IT processes to support the "self-service" cloud and consumerization models.
Because business users will continue to use cloud technologies, and prefer them over the legacy technologies provided by IT, outdated processes will become adapted for cloud. We are living in an on-demand society. We can watch what we want, when we want. Want to hear a song right now? No problem. We've quickly become accustomed to having what we want when we want it. That expectation is slowly bleeding over into our professional lives, and we expect the same on-demand technology and services from our employers. If we can get great service when we want it from a free application, why can't our million dollar IT departments deliver the same service but with the safety and security that keeps the lights on in every organization? Clearly companies need industrialized, robust IT processes, but they need to embrace the "self-service" revolution.

4. Enterprise Cloud Adoption will continue to rise.
As CTOs open their eyes and see that they have willingly, or in some cases, unwillingly walked directly into the cloud, they will make it their mission to get some clarity in the fog and learn how to adapt to their ever-changing environments. The key is to keep an open dialogue with your users. Find out what apps they are using, how they are using them, where they are downloading them from, etc. If you would still prefer your environment to stay a bit more restricted, take a poll of the top apps and services your employees' use and figure out how to better enhance and support those. This will show your employees that you're open to the cloud and willing to work with them. Plus, staying on top of the public cloud offerings will give IT the background necessary to tackle problems head-on as they emerge and avoid "shadow IT."

5. Everyday IT processes will become automated to support a Hybrid Cloud culture.
According to Forrester Research, more than one-third of servers are already operating in some form of hybrid cloud. The deployment model of choice, a hybrid environment seems to make the most sense for both large and small companies. It's cost-effective, easily managed, and provides both IT and the business user the flexibility to learn as they go. More important it allows organizations to prosper through IT and grow.

6. The rise of the community oriented "vertical industry" clouds.
Over the next two years more and more organizations, particularly in highly regulated industries, will join forces to tackle the cloud adoption problem. Sectors like financial services, health care, pharma, and the public sector will have offerings that are geared towards them. This may provide organizations with another set of offerings to embrace cloud while addressing the needs of regulatory compliance and security.

In summary, the cloud is in your IT environment, regardless of whether or not it was invited. It is crucial for CTOs to see through the fog and focus on what's really important: serving their employees. And the business users have spoken. Sharing documents through Dropbox and other file sharing applications is becoming as common as email. Security should always be a concern, but whether your data is hosted internally or externally, management is the key to successfully protecting yourself and your users.

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Kia Behnia is senior vice president and chief technology officer for BMC Software. He is a recognized luminary in the IT industry and brings his considerable expertise to determining BMC's vision and direction across its entire portfolio of solutions, including mainframe, IT service management, virtualization management and cloud computing. Additionally, he leads BMC's marketing and communications organization, thus ensuring that BMC's marketing and communications activities directly align to the vision and objectives of the company. Under Behnia's leadership, BMC has developed industry-leading cloud management solutions and continues to drive innovation for businesses that need to implement a cloud computing strategy. He has more than 19 years of experience in enterprise service, infrastructure and application management.

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