Businesses, schools and healthcare facilities are fighting an ongoing battle to do more with less. For IT departments, this means helping employees be more productive, enabling more efficient delivery of customer products and services and developing cost-cutting technology strategies. Cloud services are a key approach for purchasing and deploying IT services to support these business objectives. Commodity services like email, storage, content management, and web hosting aren’t innovative or business-specific, yet every deployment reinvents the wheel and wastes scarce IT resources on management and administration. Depending on existing in-house infrastructure, staffing resources, budget requirements and legal and regulatory concerns, IT departments can migrate commodity services to the cloud and score big productivity gains and cost savings.
IT Strategy or Business Model?
Cloud services have gained traction in IT departments because in many ways, the cloud is more business model than IT strategy. Cloud services bring many benefits that allow IT groups to be more strategic about the way they bring value to the enterprise.
- Provide access to advanced services, hardware, software and applications. Software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and other cloud services give businesses an easy way to access advanced technologies and applications.
- Reduce burden on IT resources. Cloud services come without the hassles or the cost of ownership, management or maintenance. IT departments don’t have to deal with tasks related to application and data backups, testing or deployment.
- Reduce deployment time. Cloud services are available on demand and resources are always available. So it no longer takes weeks or months to provision new services due to the time-consuming steps required to set up a server. In the cloud environment, setting up a server is done using a web-based tool in as little as 30 minutes.
- Enable mobility initiatives. By providing anytime, anywhere access to critical data and applications, cloud services simplify the process of deploying employee mobility initiatives.
- Scale dynamically. Cloud computing relies heavily on the ability to securely and dynamically provision and de-provision virtual servers, storage and other resources as usage rises and falls, with a corresponding pay-as-you-go billing model for technology and services.
- Shift expenses from capital to operational. Cloud services allow organizations to leverage pay-as-you-go and subscription-based cost models, with predictable costs billed on a monthly or annual basis that scale as additional services are required or new users are added. The cloud model also reduces costs associated with physical space, power and cooling.
The Future of IT
Historically, IT staff have a tactical, reactive function: chasing down support issues, responding to trouble tickets, upgrading operating systems with security patches, designing deployments based on requests from internal customers and maintaining and managing IT systems, applications, policies and procedures. The flexible, agile nature of the cloud allows IT departments to be more strategic by proactively selecting and offering infrastructures, platforms, services, applications and partners. Cloud-based services enable IT to evolve from an employee and systems support organization to a business-critical team that contributes revenue streams, drives business outcomes, transforms business processes and delivers innovative customer experiences.