Dave Robbins, CIO, SVP, Ellie Mae
Adopting Cloud in Business Environment We have embraced cloud (SaaS) in nearly every aspect of our internal technology needs. We have moved from internally running Exchange, SharePoint, Financial Systems, and more to services such as Office 365, Telephony & WorkDay. This enables a much lower overall investment in systems and support as well as distribution of risk. The latter meaning that with distributed services, no single data center or other event can take out all services, which would be the case if they all were running in my own internal data center. Also, by hiring experts and leveraging their scale and capabilities, we have improved disaster recovery, business continuity and security of these critical systems to level we could not afford to invest in ourselves.
Challenges in Deploying Cloud Determining the required integrations and workflows to support end-to-end business transactions. In particular our own SaaS services Order to Cash process.
Potential of Cloud in Business At this point we have consolidated our key functions with a strong set of partner. Going forward, it is more about the continued enhancements and continuous improvement of these systems. We also have made key investments in our own Business Intelligence and Master Data Management (MDM) systems to ensure that we aggregate data from these partners to deliver executive dashboards to run the Business. What are the concerns? We are always concerned about security and have, and will continue to inhale intelligence in monitoring these systems. SaaS — Disruptive to Traditional IT Delivery Models I believe SaaS can be very disruptive to traditional IT delivery models. As you assess what services to use SaaS (or cloud) for, you must make some key decisions - Is there a competitive set of offerings that you can review as a part of your process to select a SaaS? If there are no, or one, provider - probably not a good option. Is the service unique to you and your own product or service? Does it differentiate you? If it does, then you need to think about if it creates more risk than reward. How sensitive is the data and do the potential providers meet your minimum standards for security? Can you integrate the data from the provider with other systems / services as required or does it create silos that will harm the Business by impacting analytics requiring data beyond the service? Why it is required? You can’t make component decisions. The selection needs to consider the Enterprise Architecture and Enterprise Data Model.
Effective and Successful Delivery Model I believe our move to Office 365 and WorkDay have been very successful. Each provided scale, compliance, and stability that we needed to grow from a $300M company to a $2B company.
Data Security in Cloud SaaS provider can afford to attract and retain security professionals that most small and medium businesses could not. I believe that, in most cases, security as part of these services in much stronger than any internal team could attain.
Advice for CIOs with Cloud Initiatives 1 - Ensure that your provider has independent certification for their services - ISO2702:2013; SAE16 SOC2, etc. Don't take their word - perform a comprehensive due diligence. 2 - Ensure that you can integrate with other key systems to support end-to-end business and technology needs - Included here is an Identity management, federation and provisioning as well as direct integrations between providers - CRM - Finance, Call Center to CRM, etc. 3 - Understand how and how often you want to aggregate data from the various providers. e.g. With your CRM data on one SaaS platform/system and Financial on another you still need to get to a 360 degree view of your clients. Integration and ETL strategies become key in maintaining insight to executives for decision making.