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An IT View from the Cloud
November 1st, 2017

An IT View from the Cloud

Ian Linton

By 2018, enterprises will make a fundamental shift from building IT to consuming IT, according to McKinsey’s IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) Cloud and Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure surveys.Enterprises plan...

By 2018, enterprises will make a fundamental shift from building IT to consuming IT, according to McKinsey’s IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) Cloud and Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure surveys.

Enterprises plan to reduce the number of workloads housed in on-premise traditional and virtualized environments, while dedicated private cloud, virtual private cloud, and public infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are expected to see substantially higher rates of adoption, according to the report.

The consultancy found that, while cost is often perceived to be the main driver of this shift, their research shows that benefits in time to market and quality, are driving cloud acceptance.

The focus on speed, agility, and business value is echoed by Luc Trudel, Vice President of IT Infrastructure and Operations at Polycom, who commented, “Moving to the cloud is all about marshaling IT resources and delivering useful services and capabilities to our workforce. We wanted to be agile and focus on value-added IT services as opposed to managing lots of infrastructure and data centers.”

Reduced costs

With IT budgets under pressure, moving workloads and infrastructure to the cloud provides significant savings in resource and infrastructure costs. Instead of investing in on-premise infrastructure and incurring the costs of managing and maintaining it, the IT team can source capacity from a cloud service provider.

That helps eliminate CAPEX by substituting up-front capital costs with monthly service fees. It also reduces OPEX because the service provider takes responsibility for managing, maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure.

Consistent resources across locations

For organizations with multiple locations, the savings can be even more significant. They can eliminate the cost of building and maintaining duplicate infrastructures and hiring IT support resources for each location. Instead, locations source their infrastructure requirements from a central cloud service.

Providing a centralized, cloud-based infrastructure also helps IT teams deliver a consistent set of infrastructure resources and services across all locations. They no longer have to upgrade infrastructure at remote sites or provide resources to deploy infrastructure to new sites.

Each site can access the same IT resources and services, with consistent performance levels across the organization. This also makes more efficient use of company resources. If one site requires an increase in resources to meet short-term demands, it can draw on a pool of shared resources, instead of scaling up or over-provisioning.

Scalable resources

The scalability of cloud infrastructure and services provides important benefits for IT. Instead of the delays and disruption of acquiring and deploying new resources, which could take weeks or months in extreme cases, the team can dial-up additional capacity within minutes. And, if the additional requirement is short-term, the service can revert to normal capacity without penalty.

With a cloud-based telecoms infrastructure, for example, IT can scale capacity for short periods to meet higher call volumes following a marketing campaign or during the peak periods of a seasonal business.

Project teams working on new product development also require additional infrastructure at different stages as they move through the development lifecycle. IT can provide that from the cloud, rather than building and managing dedicated resources. IT benefits from lower infrastructure demands, and the project team can speed time to market with no delays in accessing essential infrastructure.

Improved availability

To maintain user productivity and efficiency, IT must maintain high levels of availability, particularly for mission-critical applications. Any breakdowns or essential unplanned maintenance can lead to downtime, with a consequent impact on service to users.

By moving infrastructure to the cloud, IT can maintain and improve availability and service to users. Cloud service providers invest in robust infrastructure, duplicate resources and advanced monitoring and failover systems to ensure the highest levels of service to enterprises.

Hybrid options

Organizations with stringent security or compliance requirements may be reluctant to commit their infrastructure or services to the cloud. According to McKinsey’s survey, security and compliance remain key concerns for adoption, particularly for large enterprises.

As an alternative, organizations can move to a hybrid environment, retaining infrastructure on their premises for applications and services where security and compliance are essential. They can use public or private cloud deployments for less critical requirements.

Simpler telecoms management

As well as improving the cost, performance and flexibility of infrastructure, IT can also take advantage of the cloud to accelerate delivery of new telecoms services to users. IT can replace legacy phone systems with advanced digital communications solutions like VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or Unified Communications (UC).

These solutions require no infrastructure on the premises and can reduce overall telecom costs, as well as delivering a wide range of productivity, efficiency, collaboration and customer service benefits to the business. As, with other cloud solutions, VoIP and UC enable IT teams to scale capacity immediately to meet increased calling volumes or seasonal demand.

On a larger scale, organizations with no existing call center infrastructure can deploy complete multi-channel contact centers from the cloud. As well as providing central call center facilities, they can deploy equivalent services to other sites or remote virtual call centers.

An added bonus for IT is that they do not require specific telecom skills to deploy and manage cloud-based telecoms solutions. With legacy phone systems, organizations typically had to maintain separate teams to manage IT and telecoms.

And, teams do not have to commit resources to managing and deploying software upgrades. Cloud-based service providers take care of upgrades within the service fee so that users are always working with the latest versions. Deployment is simpler and faster, as the IT team no longer have to physically upgrade each user’s equipment.

Faster delivery of business applications

Similar benefits apply to the delivery of business applications. With cloud-based business applications and services, IT no longer has to commit resources to deployment on a user-by-user basis. Authorized users can access their services via the Internet and upgrades are handled by the service provider so that the latest version is always available.

Microsoft Office 365 is an example of cloud-based business applications that are available to any authorized user in any location. Users can access their services from any device with an Internet connection, so IT does not have to set up dedicated resources to provide remote access.

Office 365 provides an integrated set of productivity tools including word processing, spreadsheets, database and collaboration. And, increasingly, integration with Skype for Business means IT can incorporate telecommunication within the service to users.

The fact that Office 365 services are integrated reduces the integration burden on IT and simplifies training and support because users can access all their services via the same familiar Office interface.

Simpler integration is a feature of many other cloud-based services and applications. VoIP solutions, for example, can integrate with CRM (customer relationship management) systems or calendar applications, providing important business benefits for users.

Support for mobility

Cloud-based infrastructure and services help IT teams meet the growing demand for mobility. Organizations want to provide their field-based employees with comprehensive business tools and communications services to maintain contact and improve productivity, customer service and collaboration.

Increasingly, they also want to give office-based employees greater flexibility to work from home or maintain productivity when they are away from their desks. By delivering services over the cloud, IT does not have to set up dedicated networks to support remote access or deploy special versions of applications or services.

Mobile access makes it possible to set up virtual businesses by providing services and applications to employees or independent contractors working remotely. Although there is no permanent office, the virtual organization appears to customers and other callers as a single entity.

Mobility had proved to be a challenge for IT because of the potential security risks to corporate data, particularly when organizations adopted a BYOD (bring your own device) policy that allowed employees to use their own mobile devices for company business. Because of potential privacy issues, IT teams were not able to impose corporate security standards on BYOD users.

However, recent initiatives such as CYOD (choose your own device), which offers employees a choice of pre-approved and secured devices, or COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled) mean that IT can regain control of the mobile device. And, with Gartner predicting that by 2017, 50 percent of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work (Bring Your Own Device: The Facts and the Future, Gartner 2013), this enables both business and IT to benefit.

Add value to the business

Faster delivery of services, support for mobility and increased availability through the cloud all help IT add greater value to the business. Because IT no longer has to spend time on routine management and maintenance of premise-based infrastructure and services, productivity improves and teams can spend more time on strategic issues and delivering value.

By delivering easy-to-use collaboration services to office and mobile employees, for example, IT can help business improve teamwork, speed time to market and enhance customer service.

Giving business the ability to scale cloud resources quickly improves organizational agility and helps it adapt quickly to change or take advantage of new market opportunities.

Providing the latest cloud-based business applications or communications services throughout the organization improves productivity and efficiency and creates a dynamic workplace that helps businesses attract and retain employees.

Strategic role for IT

Cloud migration improves productivity and efficiency in the IT department, enabling it to control costs and make more effective use of budgets. And, as IT moves towards consuming, rather than building infrastructure and services, it can adopt a more strategic role in the business by delivering services that add value and enabling the organization to adapt quickly to change.

This is essential as businesses recognize the importance of digital transformation to retain competitive advantage. Without cloud migration, IT teams would face the challenge and costs of end-to-end upgrades to modernize their infrastructure and deliver the digital services essential to success

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