03/29/2016

The Forecast for Cloud Computing

Tech companies host clients’ computer service on platforms that are less costly and more reliable than some in-house systems.


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By David McKay Wilson

The emergence of cloud computing has transformed corporate America, unleashing innovation by freeing up resources once dedicated to computer infrastructure. To what extent companies use the cloud for data storage is a crucial issue facing corporate executives across the business spectrum.

That was the message at the March 22 panel discussion at Deloitte’s Rockefeller Center offices in midtown Manhattan, a Johnson Thought Leader Series event sponsored by the Johnson Club of New York City and the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development.

Experts on the panel from the technology, consulting, financial services, and insurance industry detailed the reasons why companies are contracting with companies like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. The tech companies host their clients’ computer service on platforms that outsource technology infrastructure in a way that’s easily expanding, less costly, and more reliable than some in-house systems.

Among the panelists were two students enrolled in the Cornell Executive MBA Metro NY program: Dov Marmor, MBA ’17, director of business development for Currency Cloud; and Sam Panini, MBA ’17, data governance analyst for AIG. Moderating the panel was Rohit Balasubramanian, senior manager, information management, and IoT solution enablement lead at Deloitte.

Marmor said his company’s payment platform for retailers uses the cloud to move funds quickly and securely throughout the global economy.

“True innovation is about the user experience,” he said. “It’s not about what happens behind the scenes. No one wants to think about how the money is moving; they just want it to move.”

Panelist Michael Triolo, Azure Enterprise’s sales and technology director, said media and entertainment companies were among the industries who have embraced the cloud, while the banking industry was one sector that was moving more slowly in that direction. He said the biggest challenge facing companies looking to move to the cloud was the lack of in-house talent to make the switch.

“We’re told that ‘My people can’t get us there, my people just aren’t equipped,’” Triolo said. “That’s why we have grown our support business.”

Panini said that some corporate executives may fear leaving behind their company’s capital-intensive technology infrastructure for the prospect of leasing that infrastructure off-site. “It depends on the corporate culture, their risk appetite with new vendors, and what capacity there is to change legacy thought processes,” he said.

Panelist Michael DeSilver, Azure’s director of technology and sales, said the shifting technology landscape has changed the focus of his sales efforts. While in the past he might approach a company’s chief information officer, these days he’s often dealing with a company’s chief marketing officer. “Marketing needs to be agile,” he said.

Participants raised the question about data security at the off-site data storage centers. Triolo said Azure’s security is robust, and he finds that he rarely has the security conversation these days – unless he is meeting with banking executives.

“They haven’t crossed over yet, but they will,” he predicted.

Among the alumni who came for the talk was Paolo Ribeiro, MBA ’96, a financial technology analyst for BMO Capital Markets Corp. in Manhattan.

“This was helpful,” said Ribeiro. “It gave me a good introduction into how the cloud can impact business models. I have a better understanding, so I can ask companies what role the cloud will play in their transformation.”

About the Thought Leader Series

Johnson's Thought Leader speaker series features business scholars and leaders from the Cornell community who share their research and expertise on issues confronting business today. Held in the San Francisco Bay Area and in New York City, the Thought Leader Series offers all Johnson and Cornell alumni a forum to discuss pressing issues while networking with one another. The Thought Leader Series is sponsored by Johnson's Office of Alumni Affairs and Development, the Johnson Club of the Bay Area, and the Johnson Club of New York City.

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