Why enterprise must find clarity in the cloud

Cloud first versus cloud only.

There’s a huge misconception that is giving these two terms the same definition and it’s posing a real threat to those thinking about migrating to cloud technology within their businesses. For a successful cloud strategy, it has to reflect the objectives and respond to the concerns of all stakeholders, not just those in charge of the tech purse strings.

Gartner forecasts the worldwide public cloud services revenue to grow by 21% this year to $186.4 billion. This rate of growth isn’t a surprise. The cloud holds incredible value for businesses looking to transform their business digitally, and take advantage of connected data and platforms, and fast project delivery. But unguided, cloud computing has its shortcomings. It’s easy for the benefits of the technology to be swallowed up very quickly when the unintended out comings are unaccounted for at the planning stage. Businesses should think of it as cloud as a top priority but not cloud at all costs.

Here’s something that might make for sober reading for a CIO: the internal users who are the consumers of your service don’t care about your IT objectives, governance or control. They just want to get their work done as efficiently as possible. Things fall down when cloud services are deployed rapidly but user experience isn’t at the forefront and should be. The headline promises of what the cloud can deliver can obscure the bigger picture implications for everyone within the company. And quite quickly, it becomes a service with benefits not for the many, but the few.

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The search for speed

From my conversations with IT teams, the common pain point I often hear is that it takes too long to build and deploy new services. With the cloud, however, provisioning time goes from the span of weeks or even months to as little as half an hour. The problem is when this speed doesn’t do anything to improve user experience. It’s even been known for user experience to be slower when the wrong cloud solution is introduced. What did they do wrong? They chased the solution before looking at the implications for all users. In short, it’s vital that cloud finds its place with the business audience as well as the technology audience.

A better approach to take is this. If you want to get certain projects to market quickly, you should talk to those specific project teams to find out what they want to achieve. Then you can see what aspects of the estate it makes sense to move to the cloud. Being more measured and less gung-ho when it comes to the cloud will pay dividends.

Similarly, if the goal is to reduce cost, cloud workloads can be an advantage. But not all solutions with the ‘cloud’ name badge will provide the right amount of value. You have to factor in the cost of unintended outcomes such as data recovery, compliance and security.

Every project is different and must be carried out against a legislative backdrop that varies between industries. Again, cloud computing should be approached holistically, without the blinkers that often obscure the judgement of those considering their options.

One consequence is that costs aren’t calculated in terms of pounds and pence, but these unintended outcomes could be harmful nonetheless. I’ve seen implementations get scrapped completely because they have been vetoed by company compliance officers.

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Connectedness is king

Businesses should build their IT estate with connectedness in mind. By that I mean removing the silos and isolation that can stymie cloud projects. I once saw an HR application that was moved to the cloud. In this instance, the IT team was taken out of the equation and the department pursued the SaaS solution on its own accord. The upshot of this was that it was unable to interface with the logistics system or the security system. It ultimately failed.

Building with connectedness in mind is about designing a solution that works for everyone within the business, not just today but tomorrow as well. It means not being wedded to a particular hybrid cloud, managed cloud or any other solution for that matter. The right multi-cloud approach is one where you avoid putting all your eggs in one basket and have the flexibility to avoid lock-in and maintain options.

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Some of my major learnings have come from working with Orange Business Services, which has a heritage in data. Our business was founded on the concept of connecting businesses to each other in a way that is secure, fast, safe and reliable. Our business has evolved, and we’ve moved up the value chain somewhat, but that premise has remained the same. I can’t help but allow this heritage to shape my thinking.

If you build solid foundations with connectivity and solid foundations with data, you can build great business applications. And it’s robust business objectives that inform the decision to build the application in the first place. You can then investigate whether you connect with public clouds, private clouds or hybrids. When you start from those foundations and work upwards, you’re more likely to end up with an estate that can flex and evolve with your business and more clearly serve everyone within the company.

Written by Peter Gee, Head of UK Sales, Cloud, Orange Business Services
Written by Peter Gee, Head of UK Sales, Cloud, Orange Business Services

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.