With the increasing implementation of cloud infrastructure-as-a-service, companies are taking advantage of new benefits, such as increased flexibility, availability and security.
In Australia, businesses have different levels of maturity in terms of cloud consumption. Some customers look for simple, immediate cost savings, whereas more mature customers value the flexibility and operational expenditure (OPEX) characteristics of cloud services which can result in more than just pure cost savings.
Fear of the cloud: data control, regulations and lack of standards
The real business benefits offered by cloud continue to be overlooked by less mature customers. Fear of the unknown continues to be the critical factor in resisting or recognising the necessity of adoption. At the top of the list of these fears are:
- losing IT regulation
- supplier shut in
- data control
- cost of migration
Organisations’ lack of knowledge of the power of tools available and an absence of agreed standardsfor control, remain the two key points that must be addressed to ensure mainstream enterprise existence. These standards will also answer questions about interoperability. Currently, the lack of comprehensive interface standards mean that interoperability between cloud platforms built by different providers presents one of the greatest barrier to entry into the cloud computing realm.
Despite fears, cloud grows fast
More and more, enterprises are focusing on the benefits of attractive OPEX models that deliver new business flexibility. They are overcoming the traditional barriers of security and compliance, as illustrated by steadily increasing adoption rates. A recent Frost & Sullivan ICT Outlook Briefing reported that the Asia Pacific cloud market is set to increase by more than 35 per cent in the 2011-16 period, with Australia leading the region with a current 43 per cent adoption rate.
The more mature customers go beyond just productive workloads in the cloud. They incorporate metrics which report on business results, not just cost of technical metrics such as computing power of bandwidth.
A standard cloud uptake model
There is a standard cloud uptake model we see happening in Australia.
- in the early stages of cloud adoption with less mature customers, public cloud is used in an ad hoc fashion with widespread virtualisation
- as businesses begin to realise the potential benefits, key processes are shifted to the cloud as the IT environment becomes more complex
- as businesses harness the potential for innovation and greater agility, whole industries have the ability and opportunity to be transformed
Why is it here to stay?
In the coming years, cloud will become a strategic business issue. Already we see IT becoming imbedded in the business process. The phenomenon of BYOD has become entrenched, and IT departments are being forced to grapple with BYOA. IT buying behaviours will become more complex as decision making spreads beyond the IT department. In fact, IT departments can improve their internal value communication based on business-centric metrics instead of technical metrics to measure the total cost of ownership or cloud computing consumption.
Forrester Consulting has conducted research into the metrics used to evaluate the ROI of cloud services. The research found only the most mature cloud users tie specific projects to business results, and that overwhelmingly there was an immature relationship between IT and the business.
CIO: a changing role
The role of CIOs and IT workers has already shifted from monitoring technology performance to ensuring employees and the wider business network have full access to required services.
Purchasing decisions are no longer strictly based on price and investment, but instead multifaceted consideration of current business demands, developing organisational needs and future flexibility. Big data and the evolving ability to assess business results and deliver specialist reporting is only just being harnessed by the more mature cloud customers, but offers a plethora of insight into business trends and opportunities if harnessed correctly.
The recognised increase in overall business agility delivered by cloud computing is ensuring mainstream adoption. The smorgasbord that cloud is so well known for, particularly when referring to Infrastructure-as-a-Service, gives IT departments, and particularly CIO’s, the opportunity to carefully tailor and manage services across the organisations preferred domain.
This transition to coordinating IT environments gives CIO’s and other IT staff the ability to improvise and implement business services on demand, controlling and taking advantage of the cloud phenomenon. With Australia leading the transition in Asia Pacific to cloud services, CIOs are now in the perfect position to investigate and optimise business services, ensuring that the constantly changing workplace is reflected in the flexible and adaptable IT infrastructure.