From self-service to outsourced; a cloud migration

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No doubt, we live in an age of self-service. Today, you can self-checkout at the drugstore, tweet your airline for rebooking, and skip a visit to the bank teller by using a mobile app for check deposit instead. Most would agree these are welcome conveniences, but what are the limits of self-service?

Would you trust the most critical aspects of your business and its reputation to a “do-it-yourself” (DIY) approach? If it’s your secret recipe or a soon-to-be-patented innovation that will help you leapfrog competitors, of course, what better place than close to the vest. But what if it’s a little more complex—say running your company’s mission critical finances, supply chain and client information?

While many companies are happy with an ‘off-the-shelf’ DIY approach to cloud – weighing the convenience and economics of self-service with the varied reliability and limited customer service that comes with it – many enterprises simply can’t take that leap of faith. When it comes to mission critical data, they need a custom solution with high levels of availability and expert services on call.

This week, IBM is announcing an evolution of its flagship managed cloud service, SmartCloud Enterprise+ (SCE+), to meet that need in the marketplace. SCE+ is now available on five continents — now live in Japan, Brazil, Canada, France and Australia as well the U.S. and Germany – and designed for mission critical workloads. For the first time, SmartCloud for SAP Applications is also available around the world, delivering 99.7 percent availability based on a global delivery model to support cloud-based SAP systems around the clock. Not only a milestone for the movement towards fully managed (as opposed to self-service) clouds, the news also represents an inflection point for IT services outsourcing.

For many enterprises, the solution to managing mission critical aspects of business that aren’t a core competency – like IT services – is trusting an expert who’s solely focused on it. That’s the premise of outsourcing and a big part of why it’s been such a popular approach for large organizations looking to both save money and to focus on their own business innovation. With the introduction of cloud computing, we’re seeing a natural evolution of the outsourcing business and the next wave of services transformation.

In fact, traditional outsourcing blends seamlessly with newer cloud delivery models. With outsourcing services layered on top of a cloud-based delivery, cloud computing can be a complement rather than a replacement for outsourcing.

What we’re finding is that some clients now need the enterprise-grade features typically found in IT sourcing arrangements – such as technical expertise, around-the-clock customer service and security — in the cloud. And with that we’ve come full circle. We’re seeing the very real limits of self-service and DIY cloud models, and recognizing a move towards fully managed, expertly serviced IT outsourcing solutions delivered via the cloud.

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