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The cloud enabled business: Cloud and the convergence of business and IT (part 2)

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In part one of this series, I wrote about how pricing models for cloud are varied, as well as services offered. Finding the right match will make your company have the best financial benefit from moving to cloud.

Some cloud providers (the ones that you may work with as business partners) will be able to help you define your path to the cloud in a way that the financials make sense and that you get the flavor of cloud that suits your needs.

Now for the new stuff …

The operations perspective:

The operation will look for the ability of the solution to meet their needs, their question is “is it fit for purpose?” and this is where the flavor of the solution comes into play:

  • Business process as a service (BPaaS) will give you support to your operation by offloading the complete process to the cloud provider, so your operation focuses on what makes you money, and not on support services; think of this as an outsourcing to the cloud.
  • Software as a service (SaaS) provides you with the applications you need, as a service, quickly getting the headcount you have both internal and external (depends on the solution) collaborating and working using the latest versions of the applications, without you worrying about the upgrades, maintenance or licensing, as all of this is covered by the provider.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS) gives you the platform on which you can develop, test and modify your software, as every cloud provider will give you their set of tools; you should think about what this may mean in terms of where you want to run the software after you develop it.  This may be used if you you have a need to generate customized software, or if your business is software development.
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is what most cloud providers give you, and it is the simplest form of cloud, you are swapping out your physical datacenter for a service at the provider. This gives you machines on demand. Storage, processing and memory. This works well if you have highly volatile workloads and need to address peaks in processing to service your customers. It takes a huge workload off your it department, and will not force you to purchase hardware for peak volume, but rather the minimum acceptable volume or your line of business.

The IT Perspective:

As you can see in the links I referenced on part one, not all clouds are the same, they are not priced in the same way and they will provide you with different types of functionality. By choosing wisely, you will free your IT resources from the busywork of maintaining your infrastructure, and be able to really use their skillset in revenue generating activities, like providing the ability for you to analyze the data you are generating, making your applications better and easier to use for the internal and external users, and overall truly enable the business to capture, retain and delight your customers.

I don’t want to downplay the fears of the IT personnel with regards to the move to this technology, as most IT personnel I have talked to in the past have some level of fear in moving to cloud solutions as they feel this will make their roles in the business obsolete, but there is truly a lot they can do before, during and after the move to cloud.

Cloud computing requires the enterprise to have robust network connectivity and security, pretty much the same way it does today and probably even more emphasis on the security piece. It requires the local applications to interface and share data (the data you want to share) with your cloud, and this will keep your existing IT team busy, but also give them the tools and allow them to start to provide more value to your business. With the option to have your system up and running in a fraction of the usual time.

The user perspective:

In my experience the most successful cloud implementations are the ones where there is a clear objective in mind, and where the evaluation of “fit for purpose” are done based on use cases (thinking like a user, not an IT person or the business owner), and ensuring that the cloud solution and your cloud provider provide you with the service you need (service type and SLA) in a way that you can use it. And this means you will need to look for some key characteristics for your cloud provider.

Users care about results, and they are not worried about what technology you use to provide the service or to create the product, they are interested in other parameters like the availability of the service, the cost, the responsiveness, customer service. This is something that you will also need to look for in your cloud provider, as they will be your partner in getting and maintaining your service up.

Don’t choose by price only, you must consider reliability, service (both customer service to you and in some cases even to your users, as in the case of BPaaS), security and data privacy.

Not all providers offer the same set of services, and the same levels of security, and these characteristics often affect price, so if in doubt, have them spell out the services in detail, and ask them directly of what actions they would take based on DR or Security breach scenarios. Remember, your reputation may be impacted if there is any incident on their side, so look for reputable firms that can back their SLAs and contracts.

To learn more about the cloud enabled business and how IBM SmartCloud can help you transform your business to gain a competitive edge, join IBM SmartCloud Live 2013, which will be held in two locations: Melbourne and Sydney.

Melbourne October 15http://ibm.co/15zsVAO

Sydney October 17: http://ibm.co/15zsUwM

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