5 Tips for Talking Cloud with the C-Suite


Are C-level colleagues noncommittal about a cloud strategy? Five key questions help you explain why there’s no time to lose.

Even the savviest CIO can get tongue-tied trying to put business advantages and risks into plain language that the rest of the C-suite understands. Here are five tips for answering top-of-mind questions and framing the conversation in a way that satisfies everyone at the table.

“How is a cloud strategy going to help us take advantage of emerging opportunities?”

Tip #1: Understand that your colleagues need business agility. Focus on how a software-defined approach in a fast-changing business world crushes obstacles to innovation and top-line revenue growth. A software-defined cloud strategy enables businesses to meet burning needs quickly, unconstrained by hardware limitations. This speeds innovation and enhances performance, streamlines provisioning and management—and drives business results. Talk about the need for a single framework, one that embraces legacy applications and mobile business apps, as well as the apps your team will serve up in the future. Show that a unified approach will allow the C-suite to respond quickly and flexibly to emerging business opportunities while meeting diverse requirements across clouds and hardware platforms.

“Can we get a new application up and running right now?”

Tip #2: Realize this request will never go out of style. But your software-defined strategy for spinning up, deploying, and maintaining apps avoids the overhead of creating individual environments for one-off apps. Even more importantly, your strategy minimizes the creation of inefficient and expensive information silos in a free-flowing, mobile workplace environment. No app should appear in a vacuum, and making the business case for a single framework will enable your IT team to enable the company by consistently delivering apps at the speed of business.

“Our business units need it fast. But how can we avoid exposing the company to risk?”

Tip #3: Tell your colleagues they can have their cake and eat it too. They don’t need to weigh serious trade-offs between risk and the rapid deployment of cutting-edge apps. However, this does mean avoiding publicly available cloud apps that lack unified control and management. Making the commitment to unified control and management lets enterprises define exacting security and governance requirements. Make sure there’s agreement about the importance of access without compromising essential IT controls. Public cloud applications typically expose sensitive data to the outside world. Private cloud protects the company’s valuable data assets.

“How do we make the most of our data?”

Tip #4: Emphasize the need to aggregate and manage applications through a single platform view to maximize efficiency, budgets, and oversight of enterprise data. Make it clear that the road to inefficient IT silos is paved with good intentions. Explain how those silos ultimately prevent actionable insights from being shared across line-of-business units. Explain how instead, a single platform view avoids the consequences of application sprawl, wasted capital and resources, and lost productivity. Seamless information flow, unhindered by silos, lets the entire C-suite access the business intelligence it needs to make better decisions across the enterprise. With a cohesive approach to cloud and application management, your enterprise gains new-found insight and ensures that business opportunities dictate IT infrastructure and applications—and not vice versa.

“OK, so how do we choose a cloud partner?”

Tip #5: Present a short list of vendors that ensure private, public, and hybrid clouds are viewed and managed as a single cloud resource. Make sure the providers on your list have a unified IT platform to develop and deliver cloud-native and legacy applications. As you assemble your list, consider vendors based on the proven ability to run applications separately from the underlying hardware layer. Your C-suite colleagues may not be interested in the details of this approach, but you can let them know that it optimizes performance, simplifies integration, and boosts security.

If they do ask for specifics, it may help to describe the software-defined data center as a natural evolution in building on the efficiencies already gained through compute virtualization. Then you can explain how you’ve narrowed your list to focus on potential partners who have demonstrated expertise in hybrid cloud mechanics—connecting a company’s private cloud to a public cloud with the same underlying technologies, performance, and security. Ideally, your short list should include partners who support choices across platforms and cloud infrastructures, so you can avoid vendor lock-in.

Need a little more help with the C-suite cloud conversation?

Join our CIO Exchange on LinkedIn for more insights and ideas from your peers.


Photo credit: ben yong you/iStock/Thinkstock


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