Moving to “the Cloud” is far more of a transition for a business than it initially seems, and it took the IT world a while to get used to the new model of working.
I’m not talking about the virtualisation of your servers from on site to a “private cloud” or data centre, but about the real cloud based IT model.
Servers to Services
When you have servers, whether virtual or on premise, you need to have the infrastructure to support them. You are in control of the environment that hosts your SQL databases, IIS services, websites, data applications etc., and must maintain the routing of traffic, redundancy and backup of all of these.
The real Cloud model is the shift from servers to services: Escaping the bounds of the physical (or virtual) server, and instead leaving its maintenance to your provider. This lets your leverage the true scale promised by the cloud. You simply buy the SQL database, authentication service, web service etc. and set the redundancy, location and speed of service by using the tools made available to you.
You still need to consider infrastructure, but now it’s about information architecture rather than physical tin architecture. This also reduces your Capex spending to zero, and moves it entirely to Opex, meaning that the services you use only cost you money while you use them, and – even better – you get the latest and best features and integration as soon as they are made available.
Adopting the cloud model in business
The move to the Cloud model in business is major but inevitable. The shift from Capex to Opex means that the approach to projects must change from the traditional slow and costly biennial system replacements, to an agile ongoing iterative development plan.
Understanding Development as a Service means that the shift from waterfall projects to agile methodologies is even clearer. By replacing the biennial £250k project and cost with a continuous programme of ongoing development, you get both a monthly predictable spend and the continual delivery of features and functionality to your business users.
Why do people still think it is acceptable to inflict major upheaval on a business every 2 years, just to deliver a system that will – due to the rapidly and constantly evolving nature of modern technology – be well out of date by the time it is actually implemented?
Users are not only familiar with the continual development and change model, they actively expect it. They see it on their mobile phones all the time: People don’t wait 2 years for app replacements, they demand continual app improvement or they simply switch to another app.
Getting the whole business to understand this concept…
We have developed a DaaS (Development as a Service) offering for clients who are looking to continually develop and stay ahead. It is based on delivering 4 focused projects (much like sprints) per year, with continual business analysis and support all year round.
We offer an on-demand business analysis model whereby we become a trusted partner for our clients to turn to when they are looking for advice about improving and integrating their systems and data for the benefit of their users. We are a dedicated source of advice on the newest technology releases, updates and best practice guidelines, and how they fit into your organisation’s individual big picture.
It is usually extremely easy for the Programme Manager, business lead or service manager to see the benefits of this way of working, however this is not the case further up in the organisation. CFOs and CEOs are still looking for justifications around “when can we stop the monthly payments?” and “exactly what are we paying for?”. This was the same issue organisations faced around initial cloud adoption, and is the reason uptake was so slow.
It is harder to build a business case for continual spend when the focus is solely on the short term objective of, for example, “replacing the intranet”, in the same way that it is more challenging to justify the ongoing spend of Office 365 over a static Office purchase. It is important for businesses to realise however that the benefits lie exactly in that ongoing change, improvement, development and instant release of new features. Rather than implementing slow, expensive projects that are single stepping stones towards your goals, the new cloud model delivers continuous, dynamic change that is constantly driving your company towards your ultimate big picture.
Changing from Capex to Opex
Business leaders accept the there is a “business change tax”, and that this comes in the form of a large biennial Capex spend. The problem with this approach is that the change is always going to be too little, and too late, leaving you with frustrated users, project managers, and suppliers in a system that is unable to flex with the speed of change of the platform it is on.
The key is to accept that change is a constant, that we need to improve all the time, and that this comes with an ongoing operational expense. Businesses need to continually improve or else they will lose out to the competition, and those organisations with a ‘capital expenditure only’ outlook need to evolve and learn from the real cloud model.
Business Cloud Integration Ltd offer Cloud, SharePoint and Office 365 consultancy in Cambridge, delivering solutions that increase company productivity, streamline and automate business processes, and simplify and enhance collaborative working.