As an increasing number of organizations begin to transition from legacy systems to those hosted in the cloud, there is a growing trend of CIOs being left out in the cold when it comes to deployment.  IT departments are shrinking within enterprises from every industry, creating a shortage of skilled workers with the ability to implement effective cloud programs while still keeping information secure. While the cloud should be employed across all business units, security and compliance must remain primary concerns and that can't happen without knowledgeable decision makers involved.

For organizations lacking the manpower to do all the heavy lifting themselves, deploying resources and applications on an "as-a-service" basis allows CIOs to create the cloud strategy that best suits their needs while leaving the details to a trusted service provider. Before utilizing Infrastructure-as-a-Service, however, companies need to make sure they have a strong cloud sourcing strategy in place that ensures they will receive the best user experience available and be able to respond quickly and effectively to changing market conditions.

Know what you're working with        
It's important for IT decision-makers to know where they stand before with their existing infrastructure before they will be able to implement a new one. Conducting an inventory of a company's cloud consumption allows CIOs to get a grasp on what services are working and what isn't, as well as uncovering any instances of shadow IT. According to Cloud Tweaks contributor Nick Earle, many companies that complete an audit of their cloud use find that the use of unauthorized cloud applications is 10 times higher than they expected. Shadow IT presents a major security risk for enterprises, as a large portion of the data stored within those applications is unencrypted and not secured with a password.

Examining which applications were used without IT input can help decision-makers understand what employees are looking for from the company's cloud strategy and allow for more informed adoption with the new strategy. It also presents an opportunity for CIOs to explain the security risks of utilizing unauthorized programs, creating a learning experience for the entire company.

Look ahead
Successfully deploying a cloud infrastructure doesn't only entail creating an environment that address an enterprise's immediate needs, it also includes provisions for the changes in the future. Currently, the Internet of Things is causing quite a stir among IT departments as companies struggle to find a way to integrate this growing technology into an existing infrastructure. By 2020, more than 50 billion devices are expected to be connected to the IoT, posing a problem for organizations without a flexible strategy in place. No one knows what the future will hold in terms of business technology, but those who aren't able to adapt to new changes quickly will be left behind by their competitors that can, so an agile IT environment is absolutely necessary in retaining competitive advantage.

Focus on flexibility
One of the biggest mistakes enterprises make when employing a cloud infrastructure is utilizing a platform that doesn't fit all the needs of the business. Many focus either on a private environment that offers the security necessary to keep data safe but isn't agile enough to support rapidly changing business segments, or a public solution that offers the access needed but leaves information unprotected. To combat this problem CIOs should focus on a flexible infrastructure that is able to handle both tasks with ease.

By partnering with a trusted third-party service provider, companies can create a customized infrastructure that works for them. Innovative as-a-service options enable CIOs and other IT decision-makers to control the enterprise environment while still being able to access the necessary flexibility to move business forward.