The term Cloud computing can sometimes still be misunderstood or its meaning confused. However, the use of services that do not reside on a server in a company’s own data centre (DC) or on the laptop of a user sitting at home are now mainstream.
Facebook, YouTube, Salesforce, Dropbox, etc. are now ubiquitous features of our business and social lives, because they offer Cloud-enabled benefits that make them so attractive:
Given that nearly all of us rely on such Cloud-enabled solutions, why do so many businesses persevere with on-site, in-house IT infrastructure that is:
Yes, many well-established ‘traditional’ organisations are constrained by past strategies and technologies, but in rapidly evolving digital global markets, a growing number of new ‘always-on’ businesses simply see the running of IT infrastructure as an unnecessary distraction. Yes, these types of businesses depend on IT infrastructure, but IT infrastructure is an enabler, not their purpose. As such, they prefer to focus their time and attention on their customers, not the routine effort of SysOps, which is much lower in value.
So the question many business decision makers are asking themselves is not should we embrace Cloud computing, but when and how should we?
The way a business adopts hosted IT infrastructure, as part of a Cloud-centric IT strategy, will, of course, differ depending on individual circumstances. Nevertheless, most are faced with similar challenges:
So what are the common options open to a business wanting to implement a broad Cloud-based IT strategy?
Employ Skills and Expertise
Simply visit any IT recruitment website and you’ll see numerous opportunities for people with skills in AWS or other branded Cloud services. This indicates two things. Firstly, the adoption of Cloud services is real and growing. Secondly, many organisations are choosing to build internal teams to implement their Cloud strategies.
For larger, well-resourced organisations, building internal teams is what they do. However, for smaller businesses with more constrained budgets, employing people can be expensive. Also, it can be viewed as slightly at odds with one of the generic business benefits of Cloud computing, which is the reduction of the burden of day-to-day infrastructure management – SysOps. To be clear, skilled in-house IT expertise will always be necessary, but an effective Cloud computing strategy should free this expertise from SysOps so they can concentrate on more valuable, customer-facing services.
Another option for businesses wanting to implement a Cloud strategy is to simply outsource the whole function. On the face of it, this can appear attractive; costs, management and future planning can all be covered under a Service Level Agreement (SLA). However, given that most SLAs are all about certainty going forward, this option can undermine a customer’s control and it can certainly hinder flexibility and the ability to quickly change in response to evolving customer and market requirements. This is of particular concern to any business that’s planning for success, scale and growth. Scaling requires change, and the way things were done in the early days can become impractical, inadequate, or too costly. Outsourced SLA-based services may ultimately prove impractical depending on the level of change.
The third way is Cloud-as-as-Service in-sourcing. This involves working with a specialist partner that can translate a customer’s business requirements and then translate these into a bespoke managed Cloud solution.
This approach has a number of significant benefits:
So organisations that want to introduce all the operational benefits of Cloud computing, but don’t necessarily want to run a Cloud environment themselves may find that Cloud-as-a-Service in-sourcing is an option worth consideration.
Simon Lofthouse, CCO, Flexiion
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