Cloud platforms are rapidly being adopted by enterprises as an agile, adaptable foundation for their IT environment. The move to the cloud requires serious consideration, however. IT leaders should understand the impact on their organization and how they will need to change. But they should also understand how the cloud can provide them with a new, and fundamentally better way of using technology to support business goals. Organizations that use the cloud as a foundation for their IT and business operations are deriving true economic value and demonstrable improvements in efficiency.
It is important to think of a cloud environment in the right context: it's not so much a solution or a tool as it is a foundation for the intersection of technology and business. The cloud offers a way of managing your technology investments that is more efficient and aligned with the needs of a growing enterprise. It lowers management and maintenance costs dramatically, while also providing the scalability that allows an organization to use computing and transactional resources as needed.
Cloud platforms operational efficiency: Reduce IT maintenance and support tasks
IT teams are filled with highly specialized staff who look out for the various parts of their technology strategy. While they may be focused on specific initiatives, invariably, issues arise that require an "all hands on deck" approach to problem solving, and it will take the time and attention of even your most specialized people. When your team is working to avoid outages or handling other infrastructure issues, they are not being as productive on critical issues as they could be. Nor is your company getting the maximum benefit from their valuable skill set.
IT departments will always have KPIs around daily technology-related tasks, but imagine if you didn’t have to actively manage them. Consider the difference in staffing and cost when much of the usual heavy lifting is no longer required. Besides the reduction of fixed costs like staffing, meetings, and physical requirements, having your applications in the cloud means that you can determine KPIs for what's critical for your business, rather than your technology, and rely on the vendor to perform accordingly.
Find out from your cloud vendor how different your allocation of resources could be. Analyze what it would look like if you deployed your people to projects and tasks that will move the company forward. Doing so will benefit from efficiencies around economies of scale and distribution of responsibilities— efficiencies that can only be achieved in a cloud environment.
The shared responsibility model of security
The reputation of your brand is based on trust among your company’s various stakeholders. Providing information so business users can make better decisions creates benefits, but there is potential risk. Every endpoint that your technology touches becomes a potential security risk.
Enterprise organizations require solutions which ensure data is only accessible for intended purposes and by known users. As more data and functionality become available and usable, CIOs must find ways to make data available where it can be most effective, without opening up the organization to potential risks. Yet, as more data is used by more people on more devices in and new ways, are you able to keep up with the ever-present potential risks?
Using the cloud means you can take advantage of a platform that has the ability (and for reasons of business sustainability, the necessity) to dedicate staff and resources solely to the pursuit of protecting their tenants, applications and customer data. Consider the focus your team can place on strategic issues and initiatives if you could reduce the need to constantly stay up to date and focused on security.
Make sure you are comfortable knowing that, while your data is owned by your company, it is being handled by the vendor through their ability to continuously deliver better security solutions. Security is important to an organization’s operations, so ask hard questions and insist for proof points from your vendor to ensure risk is mitigated.
Controlling your data and how it's used is critical to a company's health, and is fundamental to the CIO's role.
Economic advantages of using the cloud
Purchasing enterprise-grade technology hardware requires a lengthy review process, an implementation phase, ongoing management, and then finally depreciation and updating tasks. Every one of those tasks is time consuming, non-productive, and expensive. They also involve the valuable time of staff whose expertise could be used far more effectively and productively.
The cloud eradicates most of these wasted costs and instead uses a more efficient model where customers are billed on a subscription basis. Even more appealing is how cloud service providers break down spending based on usage type and amount. Cloud users pay on a per-minute model, rounded down to the nearest minute. In this way, organizations can efficiently manage costs and plan for growth.
When moving to the cloud, some of the money normally allocated for management of physical resources and upgrades can be used to develop a skilled staff that’s capable of using the cloud to implement innovative new services. Additionally, the cost effectiveness of the cloud is recognized in terms of scale. Organizations can grow without having to meet corresponding needs of more hardware, networking assets, and other manifestations of legacy, on-premises environments. That level of scalability is precisely what is required for modern enterprises that need to be highly responsive to changing market and customer needs.
A new model for modern enterprises
IT departments must respond quickly to market changes as well as shifts with internal KPIs. It is incumbent upon them not just to manage technology tools, but to figure out how to best use those tools to drive an agile business agenda. Instead of spending so much time on things like implementation, upgrades and uptime, the modern IT can now use the cloud to optimize the tools at their disposal, and create optimized, and secure, business solutions.