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Cloud computing optimization: A CIO's perspective

Optimizing cloud means having a solid strategy in place, evaluating the services in use and ensuring the business is served, according to CyrusOne CIO Blake Hankins.

As cloud computing goes mainstream, the term cloud optimization sounds especially important -- something organizations should be doing in order to gain promised benefits such as agility, cost savings and the ability to quickly experiment and innovate. But is it just another buzzword that populates tech articles and vendors' websites? What is cloud computing optimization?

SearchCIO asked Blake Hankins, CIO at CyrusOne. With more than 40 data centers worldwide, the company leases space to companies looking to house their IT infrastructure, including cloud providers, and offers cloud connectivity services. CyrusOne also taps cloud computing for its own IT and business operations, using an assortment of cloud applications and cloud infrastructure services. Hankins' definition of cloud computing optimization encompasses governance and business needs. Optimizing cloud means laying out a cloud strategy that aims to solve problems and, more important, "is sustainable and helps with the overall business."

In this ask the expert, edited for brevity and clarity, Hankins explains what cloud optimization means for him and his IT organization.

What is cloud computing optimization, and how can IT organizations get started?

Blake Hankins: I would say cloud optimization is how companies are using the cloud and which clouds they're using -- do we have too many clouds? Do we put all of our eggs in one basket? Or should we have different clouds? And how is that being managed from the company's standpoint?

Blake HankinsBlake Hankins

The best way to go about it is looking at a governance and cloud strategy related to what the needs are of the business and understanding how to most efficiently operate that cloud model. When we're choosing a platform, my first question is always going to be, 'Is this a cloud platform?' -- meaning it's not a hosted application. If it's not a cloud platform, I'm probably going to rule it out unless there's nothing else out there that's a cloud application, that automatically takes workloads off my teams and reduces our risk.

We also want to make sure that cloud platforms can get data to and from the cloud and look at how they fit into the rest of the environment. Take our order to cash process. We've been working on a big business transformation to improve the efficiency and timeliness of those things. So, I'm not looking at a cloud to just solve one problem. I'm going to look at it to make sure, one, it solves the problem and, two, it fits into the overall strategy, it is sustainable and helps with the overall business.

How can IT organizations get started on it? I'd look at the inefficient processes that we have or the inefficient systems that we have or something that takes a long time to work on that's not part of my core business and say, 'How can the cloud help us? Is there a cloud application? Can I move my existing application to a cloud product?' And really focus on how that fits into the overall cloud strategy and governance.

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