A cocky CIO's cloud plan comes crashing down

The IT department picks up the pieces after an inexperienced CIO barrels through with an ill-considered cloud migration

Lo, the CFO put out the message to cut costs. Behold, the CIO took up the call to trim expenses. Forsooth, IT was left to clean up after a poorly planned and executed cloud migration.

In the CIO's defense (we'll call him "Jack"), some of his ideas weren't bad. The bigger problem was that he covered his inexperience with the temper of a Tasmanian Devil and the tact of a drill sergeant. It was a rare moment when he'd listen to what anyone else had to say -- well, he listened a little when something broke.

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The organization provided products, services, and resources for a niche market and had built up a vast amount of critical data. Security was, of course, a high priority, and the current system had worked well. IT had been hosting all of the company's apps on internal servers and had maintained a remarkable record of uptime for the mission-critical apps by having at least two servers onsite with load-balancing capabilities and a third server at a hot offsite backup facility 500 miles away.

The IT department was operating under budget and had been for some years. In fact, the whole company was in the black. But a new CFO came onboard. After twiddling his thumbs for some weeks, he decided to take on an important CFO task: Talk incessantly about cutting costs.

Fun fact: Both Jack and the CFO owed their positions to family ties with the company bigwigs. Coincidence? In any case, the CFO's directive buzzed in Jack's ears, and it was only a matter of time until he came up with an idea to save the company loads of money and make him look good to the bigwigs. Jack's command came down on a snowy winter day.

Jack called us into his office and said, "I want you to explain something to me. I've been reading up about this whole cloud thing, and it looks like it would be way cheaper than what we are paying right now. I mean, you all are killing me with the cost of keeping up the data center, and the folks in finance are really putting some pressure on me to get costs down. If we could put all of this on the cloud, we could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year."

Then he asked, "Can you give me any reason why we shouldn't put the whole kit and caboodle on the cloud immediately?"

My boss spoke up first, explaining the company's current system and why it worked, as well as the reasons why a move to the cloud didn't make sense at the time for the apps we were running.

Jack ignored all this, pressing for more details about how to move to the cloud -- immediately. We explained the different types of cloud offerings, the upgrades needed for the Internet bandwidth (among other items), and the costs and changes to be considered carefully. Again, we stated it was best to stay with the current system for the time being.

Obviously upset that his great idea had met with resistance, Jack waved away our advice. With a cynical chuckle, he said, "You are just afraid that if we put everything on the cloud, we won't need you anymore to run our servers and whatever else it is you do in there." With that, we were abruptly dismissed -- end of discussion.

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