The one thing that always gets people's attention is the anytime, anywhere access that cloud-based applications provide. "We tell them, 'We can't support your old application on the iPhone, iPad or your home computer,' and then they are willing to listen," McBride says.
With most users onboard and all 30 enterprise applications in the cloud, McBride has found a different obstacle to contend with: vendors.
For instance, his users agreed to swap out enterprise-based videoconferencing for a cloud-based offering, but McBride has found his provider falling short of expectations. For one thing, McBride explains, it's difficult to provision new accounts, especially if an end-user makes a mistake in the initial sign-up process. Also, the video doesn't work well with low bandwidth.
"We tested nine or 10 different options before selecting one, but now we have to evaluate all the vendors again. It's a perpetual process," he says.
Before switching users over to a new application, McBride asks vendors to show him their next release or a viable product roadmap. "If they can't do that, we won't sign on with them," he says. He also solicits input from business leaders about which apps would work best. One department wanted to use Tableau to chart commercial analytics. McBride's team tested it, bought seats and then added it to the backup schedule, something that wouldn't happen if the department operated the application outside of IT.
McBride encourages users to explore new apps that can help them do their jobs better and is ready to kill off even SaaS apps that are unpopular, unproductive or require too much support. "I'm not worried about secure data being exposed by users trying out SaaS programs. He considers 2 percent of corporate data to be extremely confidential IP; it requires multiple points of authentication to access and is audited for access during the process.
In fact, sometimes McBride himself will find a better app and ask department leaders if they'd like to try it. He says SaaS makes it easy to always use the best tool for the job.
What you can't see...
IT executives must have access to all technology-related invoices to be able to make an informed decision to buy, sell or hold.
Invoices give unmatched insight into licenses, maintenance plans and redundancy. Paired with traditional assessment tools such as application access statistics and vulnerability assessments, IT executives can make informed decisions about which applications to keep or retire.
For instance, Needham Bank's Gordon realized via invoices that his team was using multiple backup tools, including Symantec Backup Exec and Veeam. "They provide the same functionality and we only need one," he says, adding they settled on Backup Exec.
"CTOs need to have invoices come across their desk, be responsible for billing and be cognizant of application costs," he says. "It's very easy for an organization to spend money on two or three products that do the same thing." In addition to the support issues, this can mean the enterprise can't claim the vendor's licensing discount for multiple seats.
Gordon says he's fortunate to be in the highly regulated financial industry because it forces him to keep tight control over his application portfolio. But even in the span of a year, application sprawl or abandonment can occur.
"We'll suspect an application is going unused and log in to see that it has had 400 patches pending a reboot and all the services have stopped. Yet no one has called looking for the application," he says. Luckily, once unused applications are retired, because the environment is virtualized, all underlying resources, including CPU and storage, can be immediately absorbed back into the shared enterprise pool.