With so much technological change, cost pressure and a requirement to keep up with the necessary skills and expertise, it’s no wonder that CIOs are looking at their infrastructure and asking themselves what next?
In a recent Gartner paper CIOs were asked how far along the path to a cloud based architecture they would expect to be in 2015. More than 76% of the respondents said they believed they would at least have a private cloud and 35% expected to be operating in a hybrid cloud environment.
Here we explore some of the drivers and triggers behind this seismic shift in infrastructure plans.
“The reality in the marketplace is that customers are looking to drive out cost and complexity from their infrastructure,” says JP Lonergan, head of propositions, “we see our customers are coming to cloud or a cloud-based architecture for a number of reasons.”
What’s driving the shift?
First on this list is the need to deliver an application refresh or upgrade, for example MS Exchange, Microsoft’s latest e-mail, calendaring, and unified messaging platform. Given that the application needs to be changed, the underlying infrastructure will need to be reviewed and this is an ideal time to consider a different approach and architecture that can deliver a more efficient and effective platform.
The secondary driver is the potential lack of capital and a business requirement to move towards an operating expenditure model. This is particularly acute where the current infrastructure is ageing and there's insufficient capital to replace it. Alternatively if the requirements are to expand the infrastructure and there are limitations in current space, power, cooling or some other aspect, a capital project may have traditionally been required. By moving to a private cloud or infrastructure as a service model, these costs could be avoided.
Mobile and flexible working
A third driver is the increasing trend toward mobile and flexible working within businesses and less of a requirement for employees to work out of a single location, the requirement to increase the amount of internet bandwidth and potential reduction in LAN traffic leads to questions around the best location for a future data centre. Is this better placed within the network or on our premises? Moving to the cloud could give you efficiencies in your end to end networking estate.
Another consideration is Disaster recovery (DR). Having an established disaster recovery plan for applications and infrastructure is a constant worry for CIOs. Balancing the cost of DR verses the likelihood and impact is a critical decision for any business. By investigating Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution providers [who in-turn use the Cloud], businesses are able to increase their DR provision at a much more affordable cost point and as such provide better protection to the employees and the board.
Planning is crucial
It will be no surprise that CIOs are under constant pressure to deliver more with less and save money on the cost of running their operation. Whatever the drivers, businesses need to consider not rushing into adopting the cloud, it makes sense to think of it as a rigorous transformation exercise or a staged migration which can result in reduced costs; improved services whilst freeing up resource to focus on value functions within the business.
Find the right provider
At this time of transformation, it’s also key to turn to your provider for support in terms of up-skilling and knowledge share. For example Timico did not have the experience in storage area networks virtualization so BT worked with Timico to transfer the knowledge and skillset and get up and running within two weeks as opposed to six months.
In summary, there are many drivers to consider when moving to an infrastructure as a service or cloud based platform. The right roadmap for an individual business depends on their drivers and current architecture and businesses often need help in defining this path. Regardless of how and when the change is made over the next three years, it’s clear that the delivery of infrastructure to businesses is about to change forever.
Cloud Jargon Buster
Agility: can refer to faster, simpler steps for provisioning IT and also wider business processes.
CAPEX: capital expenditure – the traditional way to purchase IT equipment.
Cloud infrastructure: servers, storage area networks, networking components and virtualisation software that combine to provide a fault tolerant, flexible and scalable system. Cloud infrastructures are housed in data centres.
Cloud service provider: a company that provides cloud services over the Internet.
Cloud washing: where vendors, especially software firms, rebrand their offerings as ‘cloud’ but without true cloud functionality.
Data centre: buildings that house cloud infrastructure such as servers, storage systems and networking. Also known as cloud centres.
Elasticity: cloud computing can scale up and down depending on demand.
Hybrid cloud: a combination of private and public clouds.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): a service that provides access to virtual servers. In the case of a public cloud, this service is hosted by a third party and accessed over the Internet. Services are normally billed on the consumption of resources such as processor and memory.
Multi-tenancy: a single instance of an application used for many customers, with each customer only able to access their own data.
OPEX: operational expenditure costs incurred for services within a financial year. As cloud computing is charged on a subscription basis, it marks a shift from CAPEX to OPEX, making IT budgeting easier.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): provides a framework for developers to run their own code and so can be used for in-house applications.
Private cloud: cloud services where the physical servers and storage devices that make up the cloud are available to specific users only.
Public cloud: cloud services provided across the Internet by third party providers, such as Google.