Making the Cloud Case to the CEO

Whether to move to the cloud is perhaps one of the biggest business and technology decisions facing executives today.  In a decision involving a change of this magnitude, the CEO and associates have the final say.

Those in the C-Suite have a very different set of IT priorities. They have a small number of direct questions they pose: Will the cloud save money, or is it going to cost more? What is the comparative economic value of cloud versus on-prem? Those two questions get to the heart of the decision. Short and sweet.

The rationale that you will propose to the CEO, the C-Suite and maybe the board is far richer and more complex. The cost analysis must be detailed and comprehensive. The projections for running workloads in the cloud is equally detailed and comprehensive. There’s a lot of data there, but it all rolls up to specific and provable bottom-line savings and TCO numbers.

When talking to the CEO, start with the big picture, the truly key economic drivers. The conversation grows more detailed and varied as you present the larger economic issues surrounding cloud IT infrastructure and operations. Part of this rationale is visionary: You are painting a vision of the cloud future and all the opportunities and potentiality this new world presents.

Here you can lead the CEO to imagine the company taking advantage of all the cloud has to offer. The simple movement to the cloud is a deep form of modernization. Beyond that, your company can tap into new and innovative applications that transform the underlying economics of running business, but far more importantly revolutionize the company’s ability to make money.

The Micro View

You can begin your analysis with the Cloud Business Cost Model from ACTS, a multi-level view of cloud versus on-prem economics. The beauty of this analysis is it dives deep into all the details, so you gain a precise view of existing dollars versus future cloud costs. This is truly a micro view. However, all those micro data points roll up into an overall view of the macro economic benefits of moving to the cloud. The micro view drives workload decision making and migration strategy – while the macro view drives your cloud migration schedule and strategy at a high level.

The Cloud Migration Imperative – Convincing the CEO of Tactics

The CEO makes the big decisions, but C-level buy-in is also crucial for smaller but economically important choices along the way. The C-Suite should know you’re taking proper care of your precious IT dollars.

When it comes to the cloud, avoid migration fire drills at all costs. Don’t rush into the cloud if you don’t have to. As we have argued, it is best to move to the cloud when you have all the math worked out. However, there are times when moving to the cloud quickly is imperative, but may still need executive buy-in.

Picture the situation where your colocation (colo) lease is up, you must evacuate the data center in 90 days, and do not want to renew it – which means you have to replicate all that infrastructure in the cloud and do it fast. You may not have time in that 90-day period to gather data to drive cloud efficiencies and perform workload analysis. Here you explain to the top brass that the only answer is the old lift and shift.

You may also have major infrastructure where the contracts are up, and you need to either refresh or move to the cloud. In either case, it is likely economically advantageous to move all that to the cloud. Your careful dollars and cents TCO and cost avoidance math should support a straightforward corporate approval.

Under these circumstances you may have to order the cloud equivalent so if you have a server with ten CPU’s and a certain amount of memory on-prem, you can go ahead and order that same SKU in the cloud just to make the migration. You can always downsize later – and with the cloud downsizing is easy. The latter point should be part of your overall cloud business case.

In this case, the argument is about long-term savings, IT agility and the deep benefit of cloud transformation.

It may make economic sense to evacuate your colo data center, get those immediate savings, and later do workload analysis on what was migrated to see if it is sized properly. If it’s only running at 5%, you can downsize the cloud SKU you bought with a VM reboot. Now your new cloud infrastructure is scaled properly versus the 10% utilization you likely had on-prem, bringing in more savings.

This is where the Cloud Business Cost Model from ACTS comes into play. The model can analyze the utilization of your cloud workloads and perform an SKU projection – that’s the data it will allow you to right size your cloud use – and score you points with the CEO.

If the Cloud is Too Expensive You Can Probably Fix it

When the cloud is more expensive than it ought to be, top company leadership often blame the cloud itself. Upon closer inspection it is usually not the cloud’s fault at all, but cloud services that are not properly set up and optimized. Careful examination often shows that workloads are not allocated and deployed properly. Turns out, IT can waste money in the cloud just as easily as they waste it on-premises.

Layout a Lasting Cloud Governance Plan

After walking the CEO through all these cloud issues, there is an understanding that cloud economics is complicated. To allay any fears, the CEO should know you take all these issues seriously, so seriously that you have developed a cloud governance plan. Governance gives the executive team confidence that you are taking proper care of this new cloud infrastructure and are controlling it in a disciplined way, so it does not grow beyond processing needs and incur unnecessary expenses.

Shawn Pickett photo

Shawn Pickett 

CIO Advisor, Cloud Secure Infrastructure, ACTS

Shawn’s LinkedIn

Learn More About Our Solutions:

Cloud Business Case Modeling
Analyze and rationalize your IT footprint with the data and business case modeling that supports an informed transformation decision.

Cloud Migration Program
The Cloud Migration program defines the benefits of rehosting, refactoring, rebuilding or replacing (5 R’s of rationalization) when moving to the cloud.

Migration Analysis Solutions
Analyze up to 10 applications for cloud & modernization readiness using the CAST Highlight Platform.

Looking up at skyscrapers

The Financial Benefits of Cloud Migration – White Paper

In this comprehensive white paper we ask the question on whether the cost of moving to the cloud is, in fact, more cost effective than keeping an on-premises environment.

Download White Paper> >

Cloud Economics Snapshot – Infographic

The cloud is revolutionizing how IT and business is done. If you are not in the cloud, your competitor likely is, and their competitive advantage is hard to overcome.

Download Infographic> >