While cloud computing may have begun primarily as a cost-saving exercise, the real benefits actually come from saved management time – which can then be used to focus on more strategic activities.
The need to retain a lean balance sheet has clearly increased pressure for IT departments to provide computing infrastructure at the lowest-possible cost, driving many IT directors to consider the adoption of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) as a very efficient way of achieving this. The savings can be significant and can be realised across many areas. Mitigation of sky-rocketing data-centre development and operational costs or using shared infrastructure rather than creating new platforms on an application-by-application basis are two key examples. The cloud also delivers more agility and flexibility because organisations only buy what they need when they need it, rather than purchasing IT solutions they will have to grow into over time.
The timely provisioning of extra resources, as and when required, is another benefit. Thus, IT assets are not left unused within ageing data centres, and capital is released for use elsewhere in the business.
The main hurdles that an IT manager and/or a CIO would have to overcome are migration of in-house IT infrastructure and IT services to a third-party provider, and whether this should be an IaaS provider or a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider.
While relatively simple in relation to SaaS solutions, this can require significant planning when an organisation is considering migrating legacy infrastructure to the cloud. Current IT estates may be retired over a period of time and both environments may have to co-exist. Like any IT project, these hurdles are overcome by correctly planning such a migration, or implementing a staged migration project over a number of months or even years.
There are also the perceived hurdles of an IT manager and/or CIO relinquishing control and management over their current IT infrastructure. In the SunGard cloud solution, the client retains full visibility of their entire cloud infrastructure, and only relinquishes the day-to-day infrastructure management, allowing them to refocus on key strategy and development functions.
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