It almost goes with saying that as-a-service IT models of various kinds are now widely available and becoming increasingly accepted, leading to numerous acronyms being coined, from SaaS and IaaS to PaaS and XaaS. To provide the preferred software to a number of departments such as marketing, finance, logistics, and others, many organisations now choose to buy IT services from specialist service providers.
Public and private cloud adoptions are definitely on the rise. They have become more popular and affordable even for small and medium businesses, simply because using infrastructure and software platforms that are shared across millions of users is considerably cheaper than building costly special-purpose systems in-house. Sixty-four percent of SMBs are already using cloud-based software, according to a global study from BCSG Research. This figure highlights that awareness of cloud services is growing fast, not only amongst large enterprises, but also small and medium size businesses as cloud services mature.
According to Telsyte, more than half of all organisations in Australia with greater than 20 employees are now using public cloud IaaS for at least some part of their IT infrastructure. The analyst firm forecasts the total market value for public cloud infrastructure services in Australia to reach $775 million by 2019.
The common drivers for cloud adoption are flexibility, agility, scalability and sometimes (but not always) cost. Organisations are able to build and deploy new environments and scale their existing using cloud technologies in timeframes that would have been impossible previously. Telsyte indicates that there are about 100 smaller cloud providers targeting the SMB space, which emphasises the demand for cloud solutions in this dynamic market.
Achieving success with the cloud requires more than defining the platform, hiring a vendor and completing the transition. Here are four recommendations for those organisations, from large enterprises to SMBs, looking to migrate to the cloud. They highlight how to avoid some of the pitfalls that early adopters have experienced.
To accomplish real and lasting benefits, organisations should ensure that the following components are integrated into their cloud strategy:
1. Avoid a “select-all “approach, identify your needs
Cloud and as-a-Service models can provide a range of benefits. Agreeing which drivers are of most relevance – and quantifying them via a business case – is of critical importance. A “select-all” approach will not ensure that the service is the right fit for a business.
2. Define your needs by outcomes
The most important attribute of the services a company is buying is the outcomes that they deliver, not the mechanisms the vendor uses to achieve them.
Organisations should look to define the services in terms of outcomes rather than processes so that the service providers can apply their own capabilities and innovation to deliver the services as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Small and medium business, in particular, should search for cloud service providers that understand and can support their immediate objectives and can expand services progressively.
3. Manage the vendor’s service performance
Measuring delivery against the expected outcomes defined in the contract is crucial to success, especially when it comes to SMBs. They usually work within tight financial parameters and so need to manage and measure how the cloud solution – and IT services in general, are performing. Doing so will maximise the value that an organisation gains from the relationship.
However, vendor service management is not an automatic capability – particularly to those with a primarily technical background. It is a specialised expertise that must be developed purposefully – typically by adding external skills to existing know-how.
Sharing a financial interest in achieving business drivers with the provider will ensure that the company’s interest and those of its provider are aligned. A service provider who has an incentive to help an organisation succeed will look for new innovations that may not have spotted by others.
4. Review business performance against business drivers
Keeping track of the business drivers identified following the initial cloud migration will allow organisations to evaluate objectively and quantitatively, and determine whether the objectives of the migration have been achieved. If a business is not achieving what it hoped, they must work out why and adjust the path.
Ultimately, understanding the business drivers for IT, defining IT services in terms of outcomes, managing IT service performance and monitoring performance against business drivers are all valuable IT governance disciplines irrespective of the cloud. Yet they are of particular value to achieving success in cloud migration. Organisations who take this approach are making major gains from the transition to as-a-service models for the delivery of IT services.
About the author
Andrew Ogbourne is National Principal Consultant with SMS Management and Technology, which provides advice for businesses looking to migrate to the cloud.
 The Small business revolution: trends in SMB cloud adoption – https://www.bcsg.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/The-small-business-revolution-trends-in-SMB-cloud-adoption.pdf
 Telsyte, ‘AUSTRALIAN CLOUD SPENDING TO APPROACH $800M BY 2019 AS MORE MOVE CRITICAL SERVER, STORAGE AND NETWORK WORKLOADS OFF-PREMISES’, http://www.telsyte.com.au/announcements/2015/7/21/australian-enterprise-cloud-spending-to-approach-800m-by-2019-as-organisations-move-more-business-critical-server-storage-and-network-workloads-off-premises