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When the weekly executive staff meeting rolls around, CIOs know what they’re in for — CEOs and CFOs pressuring them about ways to make the IT department more efficient, spend less money and still retain the same level of security and compliance. Often, the topic of cloud computing makes an appearance — What about a move to the public or hybrid cloud, wouldn’t that solve all our problems?

CIOs know the benefits — increased agility, predictable costs and reduced downtime. They also understand the risks — What really gets moved during a cloud migration, and is it possible to predict the long-term impact of shifting legacy systems and IT processes?

In many cases, taking on the cloud is the best choice to support evolving IT infrastructure, but short of having a crystal ball on hand, how do CIOs make sure they’re ready for the move?

Big Money

As noted by Memeburn, the hybrid cloud market could reach almost $85 billion in just four years as companies shift away from purely on-premises IT. The benefits are substantial. For example, the ability to integrate existing physical infrastructure with public-facing clouds, allowing CIOs to tap on-demand resources as required without compromising the security of critical processes or protocols. What’s more, it’s now possible to leverage multiple cloud vendors and create the “ideal” computing environment as standardization of storage and native data portability become commonplace. In other words, it’s no surprise that C-suite executives are pushing for CIO adoption of the cloud — after all, what’s not to like?

State of Flux

End-users and executives have the benefit of excitement for the final outcome, wooed by notions of on-demand apps and predictable performance costs. It’s the job of a CIO, however, to account for both the expected and unexpected and diagram what a move to the cloud really looks like when legacy processes start migrating.

Some impacts of a move are immediately obvious — outdated legacy systems won’t make the move, while expensive software licenses are tossed in favor of more cost-effective SaaS alternatives. More complex moving parts include security — premise-based firewalls simply aren’t enough in the cloud and CIOs must consider whether they want to adopt a standalone solution to layer on top of both internal and external network layers or if it’s better to choose a provider which bundles-in cloud security.

And the biggest unknown for chief information officers? End-users. Unlike migrating technology, which comes with predictable use and failure cases, moving end-user processes can have unintended and potentially devastating effects. Consider a team of front-line employees used to the functionality of a legacy CRM app. Your hybrid move makes the app obsolete and users are told they’ll get access to a new, better SaaS version. But the new app lacks several familiar features and employees avoid using the new app and instead find workarounds to “fill in” the missing pieces of their old technology. Performance suffers and the C-suite wants to know why.

Looking Forward

CIOs don’t have access to crystal balls and fortune tellers but there is a way to help reduce the uncertainty of a cloud move — End-user Analytics. By adopting a lightweight solution capable of monitoring end-user activities and issues it’s possible to get a handle on emerging challenges before they start to sink your cloud deployment. It’s like a half-step into the future — clear data on what’s starting to happen before migration becomes mayhem.

Heading to the cloud? Discover what really moves when you migrate and ensure end-user adoption and satisfaction.