Companies should be looking at services rather than the technical nitty-gritty. With cloud now a de facto technology choice for most businesses, especially start-ups, shouldn’t business leaders be focusing on the services that cloud enables rather than just cloud?
The answer is “yes”: I believe we have reached the point where cloud itself isn’t that important as it’s now been proved to deliver business benefit and value.
For example, look at the way we now treat storage: we don’t get wrapped up in the technology itself but rather the service it provides.
So, for me, business leaders should now start focusing on two main areas; how they can leverage IT as a service and how to ensure mobility is at the heart of their IT. Both these areas are considered by many to be the two top focus areas for businesses – and both are underpinned by cloud – but where are the actual areas that will deliver the real value?
IT as a service uses cloud-based technologies to truly create an agile infrastructure that’s able to meet an organisation’s IT demands while, at the same time allowing the business to focus on its core areas. IT as a service can be made up of several different suppliers and it’s here that an organisation needs to focus to ensure they get a coherent and over-arching solution, rather than having an IT team trying to understand every new technology, to deliver what is likely to be a inferior service to one delivered by a specialist.
With mobile now the fastest growing area of IT for businesses and consumers, all organisations need to start adopting a “Mobile First” strategy. This requires that any technology/service used by a business have a mobile capability; if it doesn’t then it shouldn’t be selected. Cloud and mobile have been closely linked for many years as cloud has been the technology that ultimately enabled mobile-based services to meet the potential that mobile always had.
The move to focusing on IT services, rather than the underpinning technology, is a vital and very important step and one that many organisations will struggle with but it’s where many progressive businesses have already moved to and it’s also where most analysts are predicting more than 80 per cent of organisations will be by the end of this decade.
This change requires far greater focus around contracts and service level agreements than ever before, as these will determine the success or failure of the chosen service(s). The focus needs to include businesses demanding service descriptions that match the service being delivered but, more importantly, that it matches what they require and expect.
Other areas of contractual importance are:
- Guarantees and proof of data residency
- How do they operate their services, especially if you reside in a jurisdiction that legally requires local access only
- Understand your local data protection laws and residency requirements and assess your providers’ ability to meet these requirements and ensure they are covered fully within the contract
- Details of service delivery capabilities
- Ensure the contract includes high availability and disaster recovery capabilities of the service provider as well as the service itself
- How easy is it to move your data to another provider/service, the service description and the contract underpinning it should include the ability to off board your data in a format of your choice
- Interdependencies between services run by multiple providers need to be included within both the contract and service level agreement
- Ensure that the provider has the ability to fully delete your data, including backups. Known as Data Erasure it’s a software-based method of overwriting data that completely destroys all electronic data residing on a hard disk drive or other digital media
- Ensure an escrow-like copy of your data is available in the event of a supplier failure
Now cloud as a technology has matured to a level of acceptance, it’s giving businesses the ability to focus on their core capabilities and not worry about the technology itself or, in many cases, even need a internal IT team. But this has to be implemented with a focus on the service itself through the service description, the underlining contract and service level agreement.
If these are executed correctly, and implemented with the level of attention they should have, then organisations will be able to move into the next generation of IT in confidence and knowing they are better placed to adapt to future demands than ever before.
By Julian Box, Posted 21st November 2013.