Cloud solutions for business are becoming more popular as companies look to maximize their IT budgets and streamline their business processes. Companies are using cloud solutions for everything from HR applications to data storage. Software As a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure As a Service (IaaS), and Platform As a Service (PaaS) solutions are being launched every week, and are becoming an integral part of business processes at every turn.
This chart from The Gartner Scenario for IT Services Providers: The Future of IT Services shows the top five reasons why companies are using IT solution providers (including cloud providers) in the next 24 months (2013-2015). Two of the top three are internal factors (driving efficiency and reducing costs, as well as enabling new business models), while the second most important factor is to create a more personalized relationship with their customers.
IT professionals are being asked to manage and monitor all of these new technologies, on top of their current duties. This is happening more frequently as IT management asks their staff to do more with the same resources, since they're looking to maximize their IT budgets. IT professionals who are able to juggle the new with the old will have greater success in leveraging cloud solutions for their organizations. Let's take a look at a few ways by which these IT professionals can set themselves up for success.
Adapt to Thrive
Adaptability is an important attribute in the IT world, since each situation is unique. As an IT professional, you may have implemented cloud applications in several different situations and environments. But you cannot assume that what worked in one situation will work precisely the same way in the next one–there’s no cookie cutter approach that will work for every cloud application implementation. Existing applications and infrastructure, integration challenges, and risk tolerance – these are all the things you must take into consideration in each situation. As an IT professional, you must use work with all of theseto make it work together transparently to the user–not always an easy feat!
A Deeper Look at the Money
When choosing a cloud solution, many companies simply focus on the up-front costs of the solution–in particular the per user cost. However, there are additional costs that should be considered as well, since they'll ultimately impact your long-term strategic growth too, such as:
- maintenance costs over the life of the license or relationship
- service level agreement (SLA) costs
- the complexity of integrating the solution into your current IT architecture (which includes both time and labor costs)
- the scalability of the solution being considered–how easy is it to scale up or down in the future?
All of these things affect your business processes, which ultimately affect your bottom line. Understanding how much the cloud solution is going to cost you over the entire length of your relationship reduces your risk and makes sure you're ready for the future.
The class="mt-5"nd of the Road
One item that is usually neglected in any cloud solution purchase decision is the decommissioning of the solution. Of course it's a little hard to think about it when you're still in the purchasing phase, but it shouldn't be forgotten. Whether you're decommissioning the solution because you've outgrown it or your provider, or, in the worst case scenario, your provider has disappeared, build it in to your assessment process, AND your purchase contract. That way you're covered in most common situations. Here are some questions to keep in mind when looking at a new cloud provider:
- How many systems are integrated with this solution? (Number of applications, databases, data centers, etc.)
- How many business processes are affected by this solution? How many employees will use this solution and could be impacted by an outage? Do you have any resource-shifting processes/plans in place for the switch-over?
- What are the SLAs of the in- and out- going solution providers?
- Have we fully assessed the new cloud provider's access management tier, service management tier, resource management tier, and all virtual and physical layers?
Use the Cloud Smartly
Cloud solutions are becoming more popular these days, and it's not just in niche products anymore. More IaaS and PaaS solutions are being introduced, and probably many more will with time. The cloud marketplace is still relatively new and evolving, so working with a trusted IT services provider can help reduce the risk to you and your business.
It just makes good business sense to use cloud solutions in your company, just make sure you've thought it all the way through before you decide on a provider. You'll be more satisfied if you do.