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

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Over the next few weeks, Jack kept talking about the cloud. But everything we said went in one ear and out the other. Jack was hell-bent on getting every single app we used out on a cloud service and gutting the data center -- the sooner, the better.

Jack took it upon himself to find a cloud service provider, and after a few conference calls with miscellaneous suitors -- which we could hear clearly through the thin drywall of his corner office -- a couple of salespeople showed up for a meeting. Seeing the logo on their shirts, we Googled them. Sure enough, Jack had gone with the bottom-of-the-barrel, lowest-bid provider.

Initially we groaned in dread, then realized this could work out in the end. As the old saying goes: Give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves.

Jack tasked us to work with the provider to begin moving apps to their servers. Altogether, there were 15 different apps that would need to be transitioned in phases, and Jack wanted to start with one of the most critical programs: the app that our sales, billing, and fulfillment center used to retrieve customer orders.

After a two-week process of migration and testing, the app had been transitioned to the cloud service company, and end-user PCs had been updated to point to the new server location. Jack was raring to go on migrating the next apps. Then the problems started.

Since all our data had previously been moving around internally and we had strict Internet usage policies, a T1 line was all we'd ever needed. But Jack had refused to upgrade when we switched to the cloud provider, and now all of the customer order data was flowing through a tiny T1 Internet connection on an encrypted virtual tunnel to the cloud hosting facility two time zones away. On top of that, the app used to have its own dedicated server, but now was running on a shared virtual server with dozens of other programs.

Before, customer orders could be retrieved instantly. It now took as long as 20 seconds to bring up a single order; on busy days, it took up to 2 minutes for an order to creak out. This made it nearly impossible for the salespeople to enter orders, created a huge backlog for the fulfillment department, and wreaked havoc on the billing department.

After only a week, the anger from the user community boiled over. Jack called us into his office to explain why this was happening. Without being too smug, we gently explained it to him. From the deer-in-headlights look on his face, we wondered if he even faintly understood what had happened, much less believed us.

We then sat in on a contentious meeting between Jack and upper management to explain what changed and why. Thankfully, they listened to our explanations. And while they appreciated Jack's efforts to cut costs, they wanted everything changed back ASAP.

Thus, the contract with the cloud provider was canceled, the app was migrated back, and Jack retreated to his corner office to bide his time until he came up with the next great idea -- and the IT department enjoyed the calm before the next storm that was sure to come.

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This story, "A cocky CIO's cloud plan comes crashing down," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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