How cloud drives agility, operational efficiency

By : |December 13, 2012 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: Enterprises are often held back by an inflexible and complex IT infrastructure that cannot keep up with the demand of new applications and services from an increasingly dispersed and mobile workforce. These constraints could result in slower rollout of critical applications and services, limited resources, poor operation visibility and control, and unpredictable system integration.

Through ‘traditional’ mechanisms, a request to deliver an application could take weeks or months. Often the IT infrastructure requires physical provisioning or re-provisioning for each change. Service delivery is further complicated by separate infrastructures, decision-making functions, and processes that exist within IT departments. These delays in delivering a requested service can lead to dissatisfaction, with the result that the line-of-business group may seek alternative sources of IT capabilities.

In such a scenario, Will IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) result in driving agility and better IT service? That is the big question to be answered…and the answer is YES. Must be yes. Otherwise most internal IT organizations face the risk of losing ‘market share’ to the Public Cloud and, in some cases, risk losing relevance outside core IT services like networking and security. The IT organization must position themselves as brokers of value and depending upon the contextual scenarios and strategy they should recommend public or private cloud architectures to the business.

IT Agility and the Economics of Cloud Computing
Increasing IT agility is undoubtedly a goal of many CIOs. According to McKinsey & Company’s Business Agility Framework, 2011, the benefits of agility include faster revenue growth, greater and more lasting cost reduction, and more effective management of risks and reputation threats.

So where does the cloud tie into this? Cloud computing promises a more agile and efficient IT environment. It replaces traditional, costly and inefficient computing silos with elastic, self-managed, dynamic IT infrastructure. It enables IT to intelligently anticipate and respond to business needs. As organizations transform their IT environments, they want to achieve the benefits of cloud computing with a scalable, secure and manageable solution that addresses their unique business challenges.

According to a business agility survey of corporate decision makers by AbsolutData in February 2011,72 per cent of respondents who have already deployed cloud enterprise-wide believe that it has played a key role in their IT agility, by allowing their IT departments to become more flexible in meeting changing business demands. Additionally, according to 63 per cent of business leaders, cloud can make the entire organization more ‘business agile’ and ‘responsive’. As the cloud expands beyond software as a service (SaaS) to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings, business leaders may now take advantage of new capabilities to help increase business agility.

Cloud Paves the Way for Enhancing Total Customer Experience (TCE)
The relationship between IT users and IT services will determine the ultimate success of every IT operation. Cost is not the only factor that gets addressed by cloud; it also offers high quality service, resulting in enhanced total customer experience (TCE). It reduces the complexity involved in infrastructure by a very minimal requirement of configurations through rationalization and consolidation. This scalable and efficient mechanism in cloud provides users the quicker rollout of business strategies along with quick deployments.

Excellence in IT operations is not easy to define. Cloud introduces new elements in IT service operations including a different mind-set for IT to look for opportunities to develop capabilities in existing frameworks. Going forward the IT organization should focus on generating increased ROI, lower TCO and operate with seamless IT operations utilizing best practice methodology for a proven delivery model.

To Make the Move – Choose the Right Cloud Model
The evolution of the cloud has also spurred IT organizations to consider the variety of cloud models – public, private and hybrid – with different cost savings. The ideal cloud model enables combining the benefits of both public and private clouds and offers portability between them according to the business requirements. Hybrid clouds provide the best of both worlds: improved IT agility together with enterprise-class software for performance, security and control. They allow delivering the right workload in the right environment, at the right cost.

For most enterprises, hybrid cloud is the most economical model as well. According to a VMware and EMC research in 2010, hybrid cloud deployment could reduce typical total IT spend by approximately 20-30 percent. This leads to lower IT expenditure that comes from virtualization and consolidation, optimized workload sourcing, optimized provisioning, and higher productivity in application development and maintenance.

The hybrid cloud is also the most strategic model. It enables enterprises to deploy applications with the cost structure and service levels they need-and even to adjust them when business requirements change.

Conclusion
Business leaders demand high quality service from the IT organization. Business success increasingly relies on efficient and effective processes accompanied by IT operational agility. Inefficiencies in IT can cripple the competitive position of any organization and it will be important for IT organizations to change the way they think and operate. Cloud computing empowers businesses to increase their competitive advantage by enabling enterprise IT to dynamically anticipate and respond to changing business needs.

The authors are snior director and director respectively of Global IT at EMC Corporation.

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