Why Canada needs the cloud to own the podium

During a Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) roundtable on cloud computing yesterday, company executives discussed the role of the cloud and offered tips on migration for Canadian CIOs that were in attendance.

John Weigelt, Microsoft Canada’s national technology officer, shared his insight and suggestions regarding moving to private, public, community or hybrid cloud environments. While the cloud is something that’s often talked about both inside and outside the IT industry, Weigelt said there’s still widespread confusion and hesitation about it. He suggested organizations interested in or wanting to transition their infrastructure to the cloud should first complete an internal assessment.

“It may mean looking at the compute resources you have now,” Weigelt said. “Get a sense internally on where some of the efficiencies you could gain are. Take a look at your services and architectures and you’ll have the flexibility of knowing what will fit in your environment.”

Thomas Bittman, vice-president and an analyst at Gartner Research, echoed many of Weigelt’s thoughts.

“Start with your services and assess what’s in (your) service portfolio,” Bittman said. “Then decide where (you) want these services to go in the future. Every service needs some kind of strategy. What do (your) business users and customers need? The cloud is really about transforming culture, politics and process.”

No matter how big a business is, Bittman said every company should “start small but think big with cloud.” If businesses start small and have plans to transform over time, chances are they’ll be more successful with the cloud, he added.

Bill Dupley, HP Canada‘s (NYSE: HPQ) chief solutions manager, told the CIOs their roles have evolved to become similar to a broker’s, in the sense of the CIO now having to take back control with things like the business budget.

He also encouraged CIOs to consider adopting cloud services so they have the ability to move some of their existing infrastructure to the cloud, which in turn, frees up more room for them on-premise.

Own the Podium, a collaborative initiative and entity of the Canadian Olympic Committee that focuses on excellence in Canadian sport, including the Summer, Winter and Paralympic Games, was one Microsoft customer who recently deployed some of its resources to the cloud.

Using a public cloud environment run on Microsoft’s Windows Azure and SQL Azure, the organization has been exposed to business capabilities it never had before, said Sean Scott, high performance advisor at Own the Podium.

The cloud implementation was made possible by Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Ideaca, a Canadian consulting firm.

Scott said there were three drivers that led the organization to move towards a cloud environment.

“The first driver was access. While we essentially operate a small organization, we have a large workforce that operates around the world and they need access,” Scott said. “The second driver was we wanted to reduce our costs by staying lean and third, we needed scalability.”

Jason Cox, Own the Podium’s IT manager, said while the organization has only been using the Microsoft cloud since January, benefits are already being seen. By putting its business management system in the cloud, now athletes can track and manage their results, and financial management and tracking and organizational evaluation is also possible.

Previously, Cox said the results were being tracked through another system and employees were knee-deep in Excel spreadsheets, which meant a lot of personnel resource and lots of duplications.

By moving to the cloud, Own the Podium has recognized not only a financial cost savings, but also it has freed up time for its employees who can now focus on other things.

Follow Maxine Cheung on Twitter: @MaxineCheungCDN.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
Staff Writer, Computer Dealer News

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