Over the past few years, we’ve had many clients implement strategies to migrate their business applications to the cloud, and we understand why. Cloud offerings have a clear, crisp, and well-articulated value proposition — all the benefits of innovative technology solutions, and none of the risks associated with owning the physical infrastructure. No doubt, this seems like a silver bullet to address many IT challenges. But as with any new technology solution, it’s important to articulate why you want to shift to the cloud, to make sure it’s the right move for you.
What is the cloud?
“Cloud” is a term used to describe the outsourcing of some infrastructure components to a third-party provider. There are different ways that companies outsource to the cloud. Here are some common definitions.
SaaS: Software as a Service
Software as a service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”.
PaaS: Platform as a Service
Platform as a service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform which allows customers to develop, run, and manage web applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app.
IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service model that offers computer infrastructure — such as hardware, storage, servers, data centre space and network components — on an outsourced basis.
What is the problem?
Cloud Computing Concerns
Looking back at our earlier discussion on IT transformation, you’ll remember that we don’t consider the cloud to be a persuasive strategy on its own, because it doesn’t answer the question why.
When discussing the cloud with clients, I typically need to poke deeper into their lexicon to establish what they are trying to achieve. Doing that usually means we need to step back to evaluate the bigger picture, which means looking at both their strategy and their assets.
In the context of IT strategy, you need to have a reason to embark on the cloud journey. Is there a specific problem you are trying to solve, or an opportunity you want to capitalize on? In our opinion, the fact that cloud computing and the market is moving that direction is not, on its own, a convincing reason to adopt such a strategy. Understanding your organization’s “why” for adopting a cloud approach is absolutely essential to the long-term success of such an endeavour.
In the context of IT asset management, if you don’t know what assets you have and what problem you are trying to solve, you are exposing yourself to additional risk by moving to the cloud. Taking stock of your IT assets is a good first step, depending on what type of cloud you’re going to implement.
What is the Solution?
When you don’t own the infrastructure, there are some important questions to consider:
- Are there implications for my business model if my provider upgrades the software? How will changes impact our workflow?
- Do remote solutions meet all of our employees’ needs? What risks would we face if they don’t?
- Is data being stored at an appropriate level of security?
- Who is responsible for licensing in the cloud?
- What are the disclosure restrictions in the cloud contract?
Successfully using the cloud to support your company’s long-term business goals means understanding the risks as well as the benefits, and communicating those risks throughout the organization.
If you have questions about how the cloud can fit into your company’s IT transformation, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.