Questions CIOs should ask before moving to cloud

Today we continue our conversation with Greg Gianforte, CEO and founder, RightNow Technologies.

Now he talks about what CIOs should be looking for — and what questions they should be asking — if they’re planning to move into the cloud.

GG: [CIOs] already have security requirements at their agencies. They should be asking the same exact questions that you ask if you’re going to deploy an application internally. If you have to comply with NIST certifications or, for example, if you’re in DoD and you have to have a CNA package prepared, you should ask the vendor [if] they have the CNA templates already done. I would be very concerned about disaster recovery policies. Is there a second data center that’s going to fail over? I’d want to talk to references — other people doing this in the cloud.

It’s a standard investigation.

Now, the benefits in all of this are that, if you find an application that meets your business requirements and they meet your security requirements, because it’s in the cloud, you’re going to get benefit a lot faster and it’s going to cost a lot less to own — [and will] make your budget dollars go farther.

FCB: Is there anything we missed that you want to add?

GG: I would reiterate that cloud computing is the future of the software industry. We saw it in the commercial sector and now we’re really seeing it in the public sector, and that’s why we have put out our Safe Switch program, which is designed specifically to make it very easy for federal agencies to switch into the cloud and get these cost benefits. . . . We have a team of 60 people or so that are right in Northern Virginia that are able to come out and sit down with a CIO, for example, if they want to learn more about the cloud and maybe just do a briefing.

Maybe they’re not ready to buy an application, but because we’ve been such an evangelist and we’ve been on the leading edge of this, a lot of people call on us and say — ‘I don’t know if I have a project right now, but I’d like to learn more about the cloud and what the benefits are’. We’d be happy to come out and sit down with them.

Safe Switch [has] a couple of components.

It includes the off-the-shelf applications that are pre-certified to a whole set of government standards. We also include an ability to switch from a legacy application into the cloud at the same rate as the existing maintenance payment on the existing application. This allows people to use current budget dollars to get switched over — they don’t have to wait for another budget cycle. Then, of course, you get the benefit of our 13 years of working in the cloud to help navigate the path because we understand a lot of the contracting vehicles and [other] components that are so important for doing business in the public sector.

The last thing I’d mention is we also have a community of RightNow customers and we get them together in D.C. every 90 days or so, and there’s also details on our website about our next federal users group. This is open to customers and people that are just kind of kicking the tires and trying to learn more.

Check out all of RightNow’s events here.

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