Have you been asked for a plan for the future of your IT recently? If not, it won’t be long before you are. Building a plan is easier said than done when you don’t necessarily know where to start, and then you have ‘disruptive innovations’
Have you been asked for a plan for the future of your IT recently? If not, it won’t be long before you are. Building a plan is easier said than done when you don’t necessarily know where to start, and then you have ‘disruptive innovations’ such as the cloud to consider.
With a dual role of delivering the right technology and the right business enablers, a lot rests on your shoulders. As the saying goes, however, there’s no time like the present: and rest assured, your competitors are either planning to or have already started on their journey into the cloud. So you may need a helping hand. A great place to start is considering four key questions you should ask to start your journey at the right point.
Take a good look at your applications because they are the key interface between the services a CIO provides and the rest of the business. They have a direct relation between how you and your department are perceived and how the rest of the business works.
Do you find you are spending time running applications that are standard ‘business as usual’ tools, that offer no genuine differentiation for your organisation, yet take up valuable time and resource that could potentially be deployed elsewhere? You may find that you are running, maintaining, upgrading and managing personal productivity tools like email, along with virus protection, archiving, spam filtering, conferencing and instant messaging.
Running and maintaining those apps isn’t your core business but is a necessity within the organisation, which means that you require them but don’t necessarily need to spend as much of your time and resource on them as you do currently. If that’s the case, you may want to consider using the cloud for ‘standard’ applications which can be provided on tap.
Are you continually being asked for new and innovative ways of working and new applications that could make a difference to your organisation - but you can’t keep up with demand? Does this sound familiar? Everyone wants innovation and continual improvement but this can cause issues with maintaining levels of service in implementing, running and managing.
There are many software packages including CRM, ERP, e-commerce, fieldforce automation, contact centres etc, available to help - and this list will be specific to your business, its set-up and operations. These types of solutions can be implemented rapidly and remove the need to manage the software stack and platform. You may also find yourself continually having to prepare and manage the constant round of upgrade cycles for your existing deployments. If this is the case, you may want to consider moving into the cloud withSoftware as a Service (SaaS) to better support changes in customer behaviour, organisational structures, financing, people, and demands for real-time views on performance. A SaaS approach means you can deliver improved service and faster innovation without worrying about internal resources, upgrade cycles, etc. You might also find that only having to perform configuration rather than coding releases you from the never ending round of upgrade cycles, and as well as always having the most up to date features and latest version, leaves you with energy to concentrate on business improvement affecting activities.
Do you have changing needs that require your apps to quickly (and cheaply) scale up or down, based on demand? Do you find that you are having to think of innovative ways to meet these demands whilst having an eye on cost as well as manage the changing requirements on an ongoing basis?
Many organisations have significant peaks and troughs of demand whether seasonal, time of day, or business event related (like M&A activity). This could be a big headache for your organisation, but one which is vital if you are to manage the expectations of your business and customers. A business may depend on such peaks to ensure its success but doesn’t want to maintain and pay for big IT infrastructure and staff that won’t be needed for long periods.
How to do this is a burning question and one, if got right, could mean a big difference to your bottom line. If this sounds like your organisation, it can make sense to use a cloud-based architecture (public or private) to access additional capability and capacity quickly and cost-effectively, on-demand, giving you the ability to provide the service your organisation needs without changing the inherent infrastructure or causing your company unnecessary cost.
You then need to make sure you look at your organisation’s infrastructure. So many organisations have a complex inherited ‘hairball’ of core IT infrastructure, legacy systems, management tools, test and development environments - all which represent costs that, today more than ever, need to be reviewed. Rip and replace isn’t going to work, but neither can you ignore the issue. There needs to be a better way of managing, migrating, maintaining and growing without impacting your organisation.
When reviewing or looking to build out the next phase of your infrastructure, do you know and understand the benefits the cloud can actually bring? It’s easy to see how a world of private or virtual private cloud could make life far easier: rolling up and managing multiple environments on a single common architecture with a single management interface.
Now consider the muddle that may be in place in your organisation today and ask the next question: “how do I get from here to there?”
When reviewing your next infrastructure purchase or upgrade, you need to make an informed decision that allows you, if appropriate, to build towards the cloud to consistently enhance your speed, agility and responsiveness while increasing cost effectiveness and reducing cost of ownership.
You might have already started the journey with virtualisation of your servers – but there is much more you could do such as virtualising your storage and automating your management processes.
Now you have answered these questions, it’s probably a good idea to go back to your existing IT roadmap and work out which elements require the most amount of change and focus, enabling you to start your journey at the right point.