Cloud strategy: What CIOs really want from cloud providers

Organizations can see big benefits from cloud - but strategy and planning matter. Consider this advice from award-winning CIOs
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Organizations can realize big benefits from a hybrid cloud approach, but strategy and planning matter, especially when working with multiple cloud providers.

We asked CIOs who recently won the 2022 Ohio CIO of the Year ORBIE Awards about the top cloud benefits their organizations are pursuing now.

Read on for their responses - and key considerations for your own cloud strategy.

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“Lift and Shift” won’t transform a business

David Burns

David Burns, CIO, GE Aviation: We live in incredibly dynamic times. The pace of change in industry is accelerating, and businesses must be nimble and adapt to an ever changing environment. Cloud technology providers are a huge enabler of increased flexibility and scalability, while also creating an environment where developers and technologists can bring constant innovation and creativity to their companies. The rate at which the cloud providers can invest in new capabilities far exceeds what we have traditionally been able to do, and I look forward to seeing that rate of innovation continue to accelerate so we can deliver more value for our customers, shareholders, and employees.

While there has been a lot of talk for the past decade about digital and cloud transformation, with many rushing to adopt the new model, I encourage leaders to be strategic in how they approach the cloud. Simply “lifting and shifting” workloads from a data center to a cloud provider doesn’t transform a business; it just transforms an IT infrastructure strategy, limiting the potential value a business can realize. At GE Aviation, we have taken a more methodical approach where we transform solutions while we move them to the cloud, so we get the true transformational capabilities of a cloud; scalability, security, and innovation, to name a few. This has resulted in a slower transition to the cloud but a much more impactful transformation.

There’s no one-cloud-fits-all approach

Matthew Kull

Matt Kull, CIO, Cleveland Clinic: Speed, scalability, innovation, and cost can all be positively impacted by unlocking cloud capabilities. Cloud technology plays a critical role in various systems, allowing data from electronic health records and other sources to be combined together in a scalable, centralized fabric where it can be used to inform and deliver patient-centric care. It also can enable real-time complex deep learning – by normalizing data from different systems in a way that allows complex algorithmic analyses to occur via AI or ML – and integrate research-based insights back into a clinical workflow.

At Cleveland Clinic, we are using cloud-based AI and machine learning successfully in a wide variety of applications, from a tool to predict and prevent sepsis to using a machine learning application tool that predicts whether cancer immunotherapy drugs will be effective for patients.

Computational workloads are not all the same, and cloud hyperscalers are not one size fits all; matching the right workload to the right platform is key. Deciding what is moved to the cloud is just as important as deciding what is kept on-premises.

Technologies like cloud are enabling healthcare to advance rapidly, and it is critical that we are agile and thoughtful on best uses to improve care for the patients of today and tomorrow.

Know the problems you want to solve

Greg Tacchetti

Greg Tacchetti, chief information & strategy officer, State Auto Mutual Insurance Co:

My advice, whether it be for cloud decisions or really any significant IT investment decisions, is to answer the question; what problem am I trying to solve? Hopefully, your answer to this question is grounded in business outcomes and capabilities you help to enable and achieve through your investment.

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Carla Rudder is a community manager and program manager for The Enterprisers Project. She enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.