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Head for The Cloud?

By Steve Songaila

Steve Songaila

Steve Songaila

Let’s face it technology was already complicated enough without the advent of the current buzzword “The Cloud”. That complication has often led to CEO’s and COO’s leaving the running of the digital backbone that powers your business to a team of experts that report to the board what they want and when they want.

Why are technologists allowed to get away with that? If your Financial Director said, “I have got some numbers, not quite the ones you asked for but I think on balance you don’t really need that balance sheet”, would you accept that? Or if your Service Delivery Director said “this month we are only reporting on half our clients not all of them” you might be having a conversation.

So here we go with my 3 Fives.

5 Advantages of the cloud for your business

1. The effective use of cloud technologies can provide your business with flexibility and agility helping your people to work and collaborate anywhere.

2. You can reduce your investment on standing still because more of your infrastructure will be paid for on a monthly basis and shared, thus reducing its cost. This means you can target your technology pound on investments that are proactive to support your clients and develop business.

3. Your expenditure model can move to an operating model where you pay for some services monthly as opposed to a capex model.

4. You can scale up your technology resources rapidly perhaps for a project or for the testing of a new system and then scale them down again with no on-costs.

5.  You can develop a BYOD (Bring your own device strategy). Your people often have their own favourite mobile devices. Within a framework the business takes responsibility for publishing application to these devices but not owning them. You reduce your costs which many organisations then share with their employees as a ‘rent’ for using the device for work purposes. This also promotes green environmental efficiency by reducing the total number of devices used.

5 Disadvantages of the cloud for your business

1. Your telecoms costs will increase. When your users are accessing key data outside of your premises your reliance on your communications links increases, this will mean that you require more bandwidth and robust failover capability.

2. Whilst increasing business agility you increase the complexity of your systems. In a mature business there will often be applications that cannot easily transfer to the cloud and therefore your solution will be a hybrid which is actually the most common operating model.

3.  Inflexibility. Be careful when you’re choosing a cloud computing vendor that you’re not locking your business into using their proprietary applications or formats.

4. You run the risk of losing your internal technology DNA. You probably underestimate the access and flexibility your internal IT team or managed service partner gives you to expertise that is knowledgeable about your business vision and needs.

5. The costs will rise. Gartner points out that the cost savings of cloud computing primarily occur when a business first starts using it. SaaS (Software as a Service) applications, Gartner says, will have lower total cost of ownership for the first two years because SaaS applications do not require large capital investment for licenses or support infrastructure. After that, the on-premises option can become the cost-savings winner from an accounting perspective as the capital assets

5 Truths and Myths about the Cloud

1. The cloud is not new, it is just a marketing buzzword for a collection of technologies that have been around for years and are readily available. Hosting, online backup, software as a service, virtualisation et al.

2.  It is a form of outsourcing or managed service. Only to a limited degree is it actually procuring licences and infrastructure using a different model. The support, administration and development of your systems are still your responsibility.

3. If you feel you haven’t got a grip on your digital strategy today, moving some or all of your systems to the cloud won’t change that – it is still your data.

4. It is cheaper. Absolutely not! The costs are just allocated differently and in fact it could be more expensive. Cloud providers often demand all your desktop and infrastructure is licensed at the latest level.

5. You won’t require a technology partner. You will. Just one who can deliver cloud technology as part of an overall strategy.

Cloud is not a panacea but it does have applications in the right circumstances. Be involved, be critical and be demanding. If your technologists cannot explain to you the ROI, risks, benefits, and important issues with any given strategy, then perhaps you need to look critically at the strategy or the technologists… or, maybe, both.

Steve Songaila is the founder and CEO of Twin Systems plc. Steve has had nearly 25 years experience of delivering technology services to a multitude of clients. His passion to create a vibrant IT services enterprise that delivers excellent client service, from a UK base, has won Twin Systems plc many plaudits.

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