The Business Case for Cloud

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1 Introduction The Business Case for Cloud Hype and hoopla. Claim and counter claim. Cloud has arrived in the mainstream, and almost everyone seems to agree that it s a good thing. But setting aside the excitement and drum beating for a moment, what does cloud actually mean for your business? What are the benefits that your organisation would realise by moving to cloud? To answer these questions it is useful to consider the story of cloud, the adoption of which has been driven and is gathering pace by the need to meet a challenge. This challenge is about a shift in business behaviour, a related change in the demands placed on IT, and ultimately, making sure that organisations can meet new and changing demands from the most important part of this story: end-users and customers themselves. Copyright st Easy Limited 1

2 Chapter 1 Setting the scene three perspectives In order to appreciate the value that cloud can bring to the modern business, it is beneficial to first take a step back and consider the viewpoints of the different people that work within them. What strategic and operational problems do these people face? Perhaps the challenges outlined below are familiar to you and your company. 1. The view from the top: Costs: Businesses, their owners and financial controllers are seeking to reduce costs to improve profitability and run more efficient operations. This has taken on greater importance recently, during tough trading conditions. Accountability: In order to control these costs and allocate budgets, financial controllers need a clear picture of how budgets are being consumed within an organisation. They need IT and business units to be accountable for what they spend and where they spend it. Which projects are providing a good return on investment? Which areas of the business are simply draining resources? Business agility: Speed of change in business has never been greater: changes in technologies, changes in the demands of customers, and the trend of continual improvement and innovation. In order to meet these demands and to remain competitive and relevant, organisations of all sizes need to be able to react to new developments, market directions and opportunities quickly. In order to gain competitive advantage, they are seeking business agility. This fleet of foot is especially difficult for larger businesses with cumbersome IT infrastructures and internal processes. Organisations of all sizes need to be able to react to new developments, market directions and opportunities quickly. In order to gain competitive advantage, they are seeking business agility. Chapter 1: Setting the scene 2. The view from the IT department: Because of the cost cutting demands of the financial controllers above them, IT departments need to resolve the paradox of being asked to do more with less, while meeting the following challenges: Copyright st Easy Limited 2

3 Costs: Many companies are suffering from the increasing amounts of time and money being drained by the management of a constantly growing and creaking physical IT infrastructure. Along with an unsustainable rip and replace cycle of maintaining, upgrading and replacing hardware, the management of security and compliance across the infrastructure is made more difficult as it grows an issue made worse by staffing cutbacks and recruitment freezes. Inefficiencies: IT departments find themselves paying for and maintaining hardware that isn t fully utilised, with pockets of isolated resource (e.g. disk space or memory) distributed across their infrastructure that cannot practically be used. Unpredictability: IT departments and online application providers have found it difficult to cope with seasonal and unpredictable changes in resource demand. End-users either suffer the frustration of impaired performance and disruption during peak times (due to under-specification) or IT teams have to adopt the wasteful approach of over-provisioning hardware to cope with occasional peaks in demand expensive resource that spends most of its time dormant, and yet still needs to be maintained. Delays: The time between establishing a technical requirement and having it available can often be slow with a traditional hardware approach computing resources have to be requested, ordered, built, delivered, installed and tested. These delays can result in sluggish performance or service disruption for the end-users of applications, and also slow the progress of IT workers and developers. This problem is a particular issue when dealing with the unpredictable IT workloads discussed above. How can IT departments reduce both capital and operational expenditure while meeting their infrastructure management obligations, let alone invest resources in developing strategy and innovation? Chapter Introduction 1: Setting the scene Resilience and performance: Those responsible for delivering these important online applications need to provide a highly reliable experience, which traditionally involves purchasing and maintaining redundant hardware and replicated infrastructure yet more capital and operational expense. How can IT departments reduce both capital and operational expenditure while meeting their infrastructure management obligations, let alone invest resources in developing strategy and innovation? In order to help deliver business agility, they are seeking IT agility. Copyright st Easy Limited 3

4 3. The view from the end-user: Freedom and mobility: Users increasingly need to be able to access their applications and update centralised information from a number of devices, whether this is on-site via their desktop, or on the move via their laptop, smartphone or tablet computer. Users want this flexibility so that they can perform at their best, in all situations, regardless of location. The best user experience: Importantly, this freedom and flexibility of access needs to be complimented by fast and reliable service levels, free from downtime and performance issues. This is vital in the case of business-critical applications, where disruption to service has a severe impact on the user s ability to do their job effectively, with clear knock-on effects for the businesses which they work within. Productivity: Echoing the rip-and-replace challenge that IT departments face with hardware, end-users want to escape from the time consuming and disruptive process of system and software updates, allowing them to be more productive, and focus instead on on getting things done. Fast and reliable business-critical applications are vital, where disruption to service has a severe impact on the user s ability to do their job effectively, with clear knock-on effects for the business. Chapter Introduction 1: Setting the scene Copyright st Easy Limited 4

5 Chapter 2 The plot thickens. What part does cloud play? Although the finishing point of our story (spoiler alert...) is that cloud has the ability to change the way that organisations and end-users work, it is through changes implemented by the IT department that the benefits of cloud are achieved, and the problems outlined so far can be addressed. At the heart of these changes and the very basis of cloud computing is virtualisation. Virtualisation delivers cost savings and improved efficiency: Virtualisation takes physical hardware, and combines its resources into centralised "pools" which can be shared across an organisation. The underlying hardware therefore returns maximum efficiency: every bit of RAM, processor and storage that has been purchased can be squeezed out and put to good use, exactly where and when it is needed. No longer are chunks of disk space and processing power lost within the infrastructure or Virtualisation technology leaders VMware estimate that savings of 50-60% in server hardware can be achieved by virtualising existing Chapter 2: The plot thickens tied to specific jobs. And when you're getting maximum return from your hardware, you don't infrastructure. need to buy as much of it. Through hardware consolidation, virtualisation technology leaders VMware estimate that hardware cost savings of 50-60% can be achieved by virtualising an infrastructure think about this in the context of your on-site data centre, outsourced colocation or rented dedicated server hosting. In terms of management, a smaller infrastructure is easier to cope with. IT teams can spend less time maintaining and managing hardware, and less of their pressurised budgets on replacing faulty servers; indeed, in some scenarios, the concept of physical server maintenance can be entirely forgotten. Just as importantly, virtualisation software also offers a centralised worldview of an infrastructure, helping efficient management through real-time reporting and automated resolution of faults. This higher ROI is exactly what IT departments need to achieve in order to satisfy the cost cutting pressures imposed on them from above. Virtualisation management software also helps to improve security and compliance by allowing policies to be applied across the infrastructure automatically. That s one less touch-point to reduce the chance of disruption due to human error, and one less time-consuming task for a busy IT team to deal with. Copyright st Easy Limited 5

6 In summary, the fundamental technology behind cloud virtualisation helps IT to do more with less, through infrastructure consolidation and automation, all of which improve operational efficiency. As a result, IT teams can be more compact, and freed-up time can be redeployed in strategic planning and innovation that adds real business value, rather than the resource-sapping work of keeping the lights on. Hang on, aren t we meant to be talking about cloud? We already are. Everything above the cost savings, the greater efficiency, the higher ROI, the simplified management and the improved security and compliance are all benefits of migrating from a traditional hardware infrastructure to a private cloud environment. Once this initial step has been taken (and if you don t have a significant on-site infrastructure to virtualise, you can take advantage of everything above and simply jump in at this point because the best part of this story is yet to come) the further benefits of cloud are unlocked, which are centred around improving quality of service, operational resilience, IT flexibility and self-service for the end-user, all of which work together to deliver the business agility sought by the business owner. A virtualised, cloud infrastructure offers greater resilience than a traditional hosting environment, thanks to the fact that no individual server is relied upon. In the Chapter 2: The plot thickens world of cloud, the Cloud and improved quality of service: IT departments and development teams are able to meet their responsibility of reliably delivering critical applications without the complex configuration and costly duplication of hardware. A virtualised, cloud infrastructure offers greater resilience than a traditional hosting whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. environment, thanks to the fact that no individual server is relied upon. If a server in the cloud goes down, no problem: another automatically steps in and takes the load. This failover protection means that service for the end-user remains uninterrupted. In the world of cloud, the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. Now, the really powerful, truly transformative twist: This whole idea can be taken a step further by outsourcing computing workloads to a trusted off-site public cloud provider: a virtualised hosting environment that allows you to benefit from all the advantages of cloud, but without having to invest in, or manage the underlying infrastructure (that becomes somebody else s job and expense). Copyright st Easy Limited 6

7 An organisation might take a strategic decision to deploy applications in a public cloud perhaps they re short term or test projects, in which case, why invest in hardware when you can deploy in the cloud for as long (or as short) a time as you need? Another scenario might see an organisation with a line-of-business application that is relied upon by a remote, mobile or collaborative workforce. By redeploying these applications from an on-site location to a public cloud, the organisation can take advantage of the reliable connectivity, power and security offered by the purpose built, commercially resilient infrastructure of a cloud provider and end users get the best possible reliability and experience. Other organisations might simply use the public cloud as a flexible, on-demand overspill service for times when their internal infrastructure has reached temporary capacity. Industry leaders see this sharing of workload an infinitely scalable hybrid cloud model as central to the future of cloud computing. Self-service and reduced lead times in the public and hybrid cloud: Cloud allows development and business teams to enjoy on-demand provision of additional computing resources as and when they are required, removing the delays that previously set back projects. Many commentators have likened this concept to a vending machine: find what you want, pay your money, and it s instantly yours. It s even possible to set up a temporary clone of a production environment for testing purposes without having to invest in duplicated hardware and all the associated configuration, or pull resources away from live action uses. Cloud allows development and business teams to enjoy on-demand provision of additional computing resources as and when they are required... find what you want, pay your money and it s instantly yours. Chapter Introduction 2: The plot thickens By simplifying and streamlining the acquisition of new resources, developers are able to work at maximum efficiency. What does this mean for the business? It means that those with employees that rely on internally developed applications to do their jobs can work to their full potential, while those organisations that deliver applications directly to market gain a competitive advantage by satisfying demand and exploiting new opportunities quickly. As part of this self-service model, IT departments are able to closely monitor the consumption of computing resources across the Copyright st Easy Limited 7

8 company. Demanded by financial controllers, this accountability allows for transparency within the organisation, and reveals the true value of IT to the business. Aligning your IT spend with your changing IT resource use: We ve seen that one of the advantages of cloud based IT is that when a little (or a lot) of extra computing power is required, it is possible to quickly scale up resource allocation. And because this works in reverse too, the operational efficiencies of cloud increase further an organisation needs only pay for what it uses at any one time. So when a surge in demand for resources falls back to more routine levels, as does the amount of computing power that is paid for. This makes dealing with unpredictable or seasonal demands far more cost effective, solving the conflict between under-spec and over-spec. No longer is it necessary to build for the high-tide mark in order to guarantee the availability of IT resources and a reliable experience for end-users and customers. No longer is it necessary to build for the high-tide mark in order to guarantee the availability of IT resources and a reliable experience for end-users and customers. Chapter Introduction 2: The plot thickens Cloud, applications and data anywhere, any way: In the same way that virtualisation helps to remove the exclusive link between an application and the hardware it is delivered by, cloud deployment is helping developers to free end-users from ties to specific devices. Consider a doctor: they can access and update centralised patient data on their office desktop, on the ward via their tablet, or off-site at a patient s residence via their laptop. In each scenario, they are empowered with the data they need to carry out their job to the best of their ability, with obvious benefits for the patient (or service consumer in a generic example). Copyright st Easy Limited 8

9 Chapter 3 A happy ending for everyone We have seen how cloud helps business owners and their IT departments to meet the common goal of saving costs by improving the efficiency of their technology, easing management overheads and by working strategically to share their computing workloads with public cloud providers. Just as importantly though, organisations and business leaders are starting to recognise that cloud is ultimately about more than IT cost cutting. It is about giving IT and business agility to even the largest of organisations, and enabling them to realise faster revenue growth by reacting quickly to changes in market conditions and allowing them to pursue a greater number of new opportunities. Through cloud, IT transforms from a cost centre that uses up vast amounts of resource and staff time, to become something much more valuable: a strategy driver and business facilitator. Rather than acting as a speed limiter, the underlying technology resources of a business become as freely available as the vital electricity and gas utilities that we take for granted. After all, when Organisations and business leaders are starting to recognise that cloud is ultimately about more than IT cost cutting. It is about giving IT and business agility to even the largest of organisations. Chapter 3: A happy ending for everyone was the last time that you worried about the water supply to your business? The availability of IT resources should be just the same as much as you need on tap, and billed according to exactly how much you use. Freed from the restraints imposed by a clunky and sprawling infrastructure, cloud is helping organisations and those that work within them to regain focus on the services they deliver to end-users whether these are internal customers within the business, or consumers in the market place. And thanks to features such as instant provisioning and self service, applications can be delivered to expectant markets more quickly. Users of these applications can enjoy faster and more reliable experiences, and at the same time, their data is more secure. Further, these users are free to access their applications and synchronised, centralised data on the move, via the most appropriate device at any one time. Copyright st Easy Limited 9

10 Epilogue Your business and cloud Now you know why, but what about how and when? Perhaps you re considering deploying your next application in the public cloud, or want to migrate your existing applications from your on-site infrastructure, colocation resources or rented dedicated servers. Start the journey to your cloud Whatever your level of cloud knowledge or adoption, contact us and find out how we can help you to realise the full benefits of your cloud. Epilogue: Your business and cloud Call us on (free from a UK landline) Or call us on (local rate for mobile calls) Send an to Visit our website: Copyright st Easy Limited 10

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