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IT future bright with a cloudy outlook

28 March, 2014

Rajiv Gupta, co-founder and CEO of cloud security software company, Skyhigh Networks, in a blog post in Cloud Computing Journal has set out a number of predictions for cloud computing in 2014, and they are all positive.

You've probably read plenty about how cloud services are enabling others within the business to bypass the traditional role of CIOs as gatekeepers of all things IT, leading to IT departments having a diminished role in organisations. Not for much longer, says Gupta.

He envisages a rapid shift to one in which cloud services enable IT to have a much better focus on the business and so able to contribute to business goals with creativity and innovation, one in which IT staff are no longer siloed into 'keeping the lights on' roles but become the visionaries that drive the business forward.

"2014 will be year that enterprise IT organisations move from the role of helpless bystander to the role of strategic partner to the business unit," says Gupta.

"It will be the year that the CIO carves out a new role of strategic importance, namely the enabler of cloud apps that drive agility, productivity and competitive advantage for their business units."

Sounds good. You've probably also heard lots of 'doom and gloom' stories about security of the cloud, and how uncertainty around that is slowing the uptake of cloud services. Again, not for much longer says Gupta.

"Security won't be a cloud adoption obstacle in 2014."

"Cloud security is already on par, if not better than, traditional digital security, and 2014 will mark the cloud security tipping point, the beginning of real security transformation."

And IT will no longer need to play the bad guy, blocking access to cloud services on the grounds of risk.

Gupta explains: "In 2014, IT will get the visibility needed to feel comfortable loosening the reigns, helping employees evaluate and understand the risk of these services, rather than simply blocking them."

The good news continues: IT's fears of being marginalised thanks to the rise of social, mobile, analytics and cloud services (SMAC) will prove to be unfounded. "The hottest IT job right now is IT business analyst. Not long ago, only the CIO worried about aligning technology with business goals. In 2014, it will be the entire IT department."

So from being CI-'Nos' always putting the damper on new gadgets and the SMAC services that business units and individuals are keen to use to boost their productivity, CIOs will "look at cloud, mobile, social media, and whatever other new technology comes along to discern how these cloud services will benefit the business, operationally and strategically," according to Gupta.

That's the good news. Now for the bad, CIOs that embrace this brave new world and their new role will do well. Those that don't will become increasingly challenged and uncomfortable.

Gupta says that CIOs who 'just say no' and fail to adapt will face criticism from everyone from board members who cannot live without access to corporate data on their personal tablets to developers who demand access to user-friendly cloud and managed services.

"Those CIOs who continue to block cloud services that deliver business value will place their organisations at a competitive disadvantage, and once the rest of the C-suite wakes up to that fact, it will be the CMO, not the CIO, driving the future of technology within those slow-to-adapt organisations."

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