Business Applications as a Service (BAaaS)

Moving business apps into the cloud carries big benefits

The rise and rise of the as-a-Service (XaaS) model continues. The various models based around the XaaS approach are all forecast to continue growing rapidly as organizations go on taking advantage of the increased flexibility, lower CAPEX and on-demand nature of the service. Gartner predicts that Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) will grow at a CAGR of 41.3 per cent through 2016, while Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) will hit 27.7 per cent CAGR in the same period. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market will grow at 19.5 per cent CAGR in that time too, demonstrating how significant the cloud delivery of IT services has become.

XaaS is about making life easier for the customer while giving the provider greater flexibility. Where previously software licenses were bought and long-term contracts entered into, today organizations want and need to be more agile. Utilizing IT services on-demand means that businesses can deploy services as needed, quickly, securely and cost-effectively, and the cloud has enabled this change in mentality. It has helped to create a more business-centric IT culture, where companies and organizations really do get to have IT on their own terms.

Beyond software and infrastructure

As every mobile user knows, this is the era of the app. Cloud delivery of our favourite films, music, games, magazines and books direct to our smartphones or tablets is now entirely second nature, and it has almost become hard to remember the world before it. So just as we source our personal apps on demand from the cloud, doesn’t it now make sense that we do the same thing with business applications?

Business Applications as a Service (BAaaS) is well set to become the next big thing in app delivery this year. As companies continue needing to cut costs wherever possible, shifting certain business applications into the cloud and utilizing them on an on-demand basis helps to remove the CAPEX typically involved in purchasing business services, and also reduces OPEX as you go along. Companies today often find that processes and requirements change on a continuous basis, meaning purchasing business applications outright can become a zero-sum game or even a loss-maker. Organization and end-user needs are always evolving, and new functionality is often required at short notice.

So just as Software as a Service began life delivering business applications like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Human Resource Management (HRM) tools on demand and via the cloud, so the BAaaS model will evolve to deliver other key applications like Business Intelligence (BI), security tools, plant control and business premises management apps – it’s the next logical step in this technology shift.

Why so popular?

In addition to the OPEX and CAPEX benefits, BAaaS tools can be used from any device, whenever and wherever the end-user wants. With so many personal apps delivered through the cloud to mobile devices today, end-users are perfectly familiar using the internet to get the apps they need. So there is no reason why this should not extend to the workplace. There’s also a shorter learning curve to be had because of this end-user familiarity.

Delivering business apps in this way also makes the upgrade process far easier. Organizations work with their BAaaS partner to establish the terms of engagement, the BAaaS partner then takes care of all updates and upgrades to apps. No additional hardware, software or capacity upgrades are required, even when scaling up the user base. It is a model of simplicity.

The changing nature of the CIO

The BAaaS shift also has major implications for the CIO and the IT department. With the role of the CIO changing into that of a business-critical one, the benefits of BAaaS can help make the transition simpler. With budgets remaining tight, the pressure is on the CIO to do more with less – their focus must become more strategic and they have to deliver commercially impactful initiatives – by being innovative, agile and prepared to adopt new technologies.

Every stakeholder today expects more. They expect more apps delivered more quickly and more reliably, wherever they are, while ensuring that the network remains more secure. This means customers, partners, employees, fellow C-level executives – the modern CIO now has a very different role. The IT department has become both the engine room of a company and also a business unit in itself which must innovate, think strategically and drive the organization forward. BAaaS is the latest cloud service which can help make the CIO’s mission easier and more relevant.

Gordon

Improve business efficiency and collaboration with global communications solutions

Gordon Makryllos, CEO – Australasia,  said: “We enable our customers to benefit from global collaboration with employees, partners and clients to improve productivity and efficiency. With our expertise in the resources sector, we understand the unique business challenges faced by Aurecon and are delighted to support them in their transformation journey. This engagement is an example of our collaborative approach with customers and differentiates us as a leading global communications integrator. We are committed to delivering innovative service-based outcomes that add value for Aurecon’s business.”

For more details see:

The Wall Street Journal

Business Wire

 

 

Seven technology predictions for 2014

The year 2014 will be where current trends will accelerate the transformation already underway in how we consume information and do business and live. Organisations will need to evaluate their information strategy to take advantage of the emerging opportunities.

Here are seven trends to consider in the New Year:

Trend # 1 – the era of personal cloud

The cloud has exploded in popularity over the past few years, as companies exhaust backup, storage, network, security, and management systems. Consumer awareness of cloud storage is now increasing and usage is following suit.

Despite concerns that many industries have about cloud storage ability and their willingness to keep information secure, consumers will have little choice but to keep more information on these systems as opposed to their hard drives.

The push for more personal cloud technologies will shift toward services and away from devices. As mobile applications crowd the market, personal cloud services will become the new hub for content.

The risk for organisations is that being a consumer and being an employee is separate, but will the use of personal cloud be? Will someone taking a Friday off to work from home save documents to their personal cloud, which has different security measures to the organisations cloud, and put at risks the secrets of the new client pitch or new product development?

For 2014: Consider how personal and organisational cloud will interact for your business. Could they be at loggerheads before you have time to prepare your policies and inform your employees accordingly?

Trend # 2 – biometric authentication to replace passwords

Long gone are those days where a single password acted as a secure means of authentication. Today, a basic password takes minutes, if not seconds to break through. A string of characters can no longer keep your accounts and devices secure.

When was the last time you created a new password? As you were typing it in did a bar on the right hand side tell you whether it was weak, medium or strong? How many upper case letters or numerals did you include? Did I use the dog’s name or my favourite summer holiday spot for my internet banking password?

We are in the age where each and every person needs a little black book for their infinite passwords. But what happens if we lose the book?

The rapid proliferation of new devices has created additional security requirements for organisations attempting to increase its presence in the online market.

For enterprises that have not revisited their authentication strategies in several years, it may be time to take a fresh look. As identity becomes the driving force behind new security paradigms, biometric authentication will become the new practice as fingerprint and eye retinal scans become a part of our everyday activity.

For 2014: Be prepared! Adopt a security strategy built on advanced authentication techniques that will manage user access. Encourage regular password updates and educate your employees on what a strong password looks like. No dog names allowed.

Trend # 3 – out with the old and in with the new: embedded technology

Embedded systems are part of our daily lives. Can you imagine your life today, without a smart phone for communication?

2014 will see an uptake in embedded technology as the pressure will be on to add more intelligent functions into devices. The technology that initially drove mobile phones is now driving the adoption of smart devices. Touchscreens, smaller gadgets, and high performance sensors are just some of these innovations.

Wearable technology is a trend that will embrace the workforce. It is already starting. There will be more productivity apps in wearables as medical professionals begin using devices that overlay images on goggles. Google Glass is just the beginning, with other inventions to monitor, anticipate and feedback, well on their way.

For 2014: Anticipate the evolution of everyday products as technology becomes cheaper, smaller and more energy efficient. Technology will lead to automated homes, intelligent automobiles, smart buildings, and ubiquitous measure / control systems. How can your business embrace and jump on board?

Trend # 4 – go mobile or go home

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has completely changed the way businesses work. Executives using devices such as smartphones and tablets to access the corporate network is quickly becoming ubiquitous with an uptrend in remote working.

According to a report by Gartner, 70 per cent of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018. The increase in mobile devices will challenge technology and finance departments as they try to manage mobile devices. But what type of personal smart device? Where are the tablet / smart phone headed? We are at the beginning of what the future world of personal smart devices might look like. If left unmanaged, BYOD can lead to data leaks and loss of control, which could potentially result in legal penalties.

With BYOD, the genie is out of the bottle as users expect to be online in more places at high speeds and with robust security levels. With the right solutions in place, BYOD can create new exciting opportunities.

For 2014: Create a clear policy around BYOD strategies that encompasses enabling secure, trusted, and convenient access. Be sure to implement a security model that has minimal impact on an employee’s experience, whilst maintaining the same security standards that your organisation upholds.

Trend # 5 – do more with less: the future is in M2M technology

Machine-to-machine’ (M2M) communication has given businesses the capability to monitor, control, or manage the operation of remote equipment. Today, M2M services have entered a renaissance period, playing a significant role as new products communicate with each other wirelessly without any human intervention.

This deregulation in the market will eventually garner new opportunities making it possible to map and monitor an entire system of remote hubs which could be anything from a building to a vehicle, to a fully armed security system.

The Internet of Things will enable devices to communicate with each other, while working out problems without interference. For instance, an M2M device will be able to automatically control the temperature of an air conditioner, while switching it on or off when required. These core capabilities will reduce error, save time, increase efficiency, and generally optimise the performance of any physical system.

For 2014: Maintain a strong and clear position in the market by developing plans and procedures that incorporate M2M technologies NOW rather than later. Prepare your organisation for change.

Trend # 6 – the new age of apps

With the continued growth and inescapable presence of BYOD, individuals have the capability of accessing all sorts of applications and information they need using their own devices anytime and anywhere.

Consumers are more technologically savvy and flock to app stores linked to their mobile platforms and devices while companies are investing in apps almost every day.

From 2014 onwards, there will be an app for almost everything, from everyday bills to mobile banking and much more. Something as simple as karaoke, which used to be entertained in restaurants is now a downloadable app. The same applies to music, where consumers can listen to unlimited songs using the appropriate app. This innovation will continue to increase, with the app market expected to reach $38 billion in just two years.

Propriety apps will become common, as more and more employees create and develop apps that support their business.

For 2014: Consider individual user’s needs for mobility, and get involved in the discussion. Organisations need to adapt their digital marketing campaigns to fit the small screens and the evolution of the app world.

Trend # 7 – the social dimension where everything is shared

We have reached a new communication age where social media is well established. Today, technology has enabled us to profile any individual or business by simply tapping into the material available online on social networks. Facebook itself has approximately 1.19 billion active users and roughly 507 million daily active mobile users, while twitter has roughly 554 million active registered users, with approximately 58 million tweets a day.

With the popularity of social networks it becomes easier to share information across the globe with a simple click of a button. This takes on a new level of urgency as organisations shift from an information age to a communication age. Facebook itself revealed what is known as “frictionless sharing”, which automatically posts updates on your page from everything you listen to, read or watch.

The concept of 3D printing is another trend that will explode the marketplace in 2014 and will assist in local and custom fabrication. New competition will enter the market using 3D Printers to challenge business models. Users will take advantage of new paradigms in replicating products, designs, and devices.

For 2014: Be careful with what information you disclose and to whom you disclose this too. Businesses need to pay close attention to ensure that all information or objects shared are subject to copyright or is trade market protected.

2014 will see an uptake in the adoption of smart technologies, innovative devices, and a plethora of cloud applications. With new technologies seemingly always on the horizon, keeping a hold over IT systems is becoming increasingly complicated. It is therefore important that businesses embrace the new trends and prepare for the opportunities ahead.

Original Publication

 

Managing trouble if your Cloud is in a Storm

Cloud computing comes with many key decision and considerations. There are decisions to be made around whom to choose, what to look for and what specific service it is that you ultimately need for your organisation.

When an organisation starts to think about moving to the cloud, the driving force is usually twofold: achieving a competitive edge in business and the cost saving benefits the cloud promises. While these are the incentives, the considerations when choosing a cloud service provider (CSP) need to be a lot more detailed. You are migrating your business from one form of technology to a newer and still developing one, and hence must consider scalability, control and security.

This can be a long, slow and painful process. CSPs are, ultimately, still subject the same cyber problems as your company was back when the humble server was the apple of the CIO’s eye. You may have decided on a CSP boasting near 100 per cent up time. But what about errors in the file system, misconfigurations, abuse attempts, programming errors and bugs? When they hit, service outages happen. Maybe not every time, but they can happen.

The Australian Government Department of Defence, Intelligence and Security have an online resource dedicated to advice for “Cloud Computing Security Considerations”. Aimed to assess the benefits and risk associated to cloud, the site also investigates the potential disasters associated when cloud provider drop outs occur.

The question the site raises is this: what happens if your data is housed in the cloud and your cloud service provider, for some unknown reason, becomes unavailable?

And this is one of the true problems of cloud computing. By placing your organisation’s data, information and trust in a service provider, you ultimately lose the ability to directly and independently fix problems if and when they occur. There is a whole world of security threats floating around that have the potential to wreak havoc with a business’ critical data and applications, and that can damage an organisation’s reputation and bottom line.

And, even more concerning, what happens if your trusted CSP unexpectedly goes out of business. Where does your data go? Who has rights to it? How do you recover it? Is it still secure? The plethora of questions that this potential situation brings up is enough to warrant serious concern, consideration and preparation.

So, below are five tips which you need to consider if and when, and ideally before, you migrate to the cloud to ensure that business can go on as usual if your provider becomes unavailable.

1. Demand connectivity and availability

The Cloud Computing Security Considerations highlights availability, bandwidth, latency and packet loss as the four key concerns when looking at network capacity from vendor to organisation. If there is inadequate connectivity, then ultimately your organisation will reduce its capacity to function as it should when working on the cloud. Similarly, you need to understand the provider’s availability. Availability can be affected by a host of things: targeted attacks, unsuccessful an ineffective maintenance, hardware problems and so the list goes on. As always, doing due diligence on your cloud service provider is critical. You need to ensure that the provider will meet your organisation’s cost, quality-of-service, regulatory compliance and risk management requirements.

The system housing your organisations information and identity must have capacity and ability to deliver a connected and available service, otherwise the CSP is redundant.

Ask yourself: is there any room to compromise on connectivity and availability when looking at my service provider?

Understand the service level agreement (SLA) so there is no confusion around the level and quality of service you are signing up for.

2. Be realistic – the threats are largely the same

Physical systems in offices can crash and fail – losing your data on site and in your office. Whether you have just migrated to the cloud, or have been a long-time resident, the risks you now face are the same as those you faced with a server purring in the back room. The loss of important data is another concern that businesses ignore at their own peril. A hacker or a disgruntled employee could delete important data. However, hackers and employees are not the only ones who might be responsible for such a circumstance. Important, mission critical data can be lost due to the negligence of a cloud service provider.

So what was your plan then? Assess the guidelines you had in place before migration, and then adapt these to the new technology.

Ask yourself: What are the bottom line security standards our organisation needs? Understand your key areas of weakness so you can develop a plan to protect them.

3. Back up. Again. And again.

Moving data to the cloud means it is no longer housed underneath your organisations roof. It is housed in a data centre somewhere across the globe. To future proof your data and ensure that you are not left in the lurch without important information and applications; your best option is to work with two cloud suppliers and house your data in both. This means that when one provider goes down its extremely unlikely the other will.

Either way, the cost is generally a good investment for peace of mind.

Ask yourself: is it worthwhile spending additional money on a second back up to ensure that business can run as usual if one CSP goes down?

4. Your SLA: The scheduled, the unexpected and the unsaid

Any service level agreement (SLA) will have listed the maximum possible unscheduled downtime that can occur without breaching it. The Cloud Computing Security Considerations notes that “typical SLAs that guarantee 99.9% availability can have up to nine hours of unscheduled outages every year without breaching the SLA”. 9 hours may sounds small in the scheme of things, but timing and deadlines could potentially render an ‘unscheduled outage’ catastrophic.

Likewise, your SLA should have an estimate on scheduled downtime, for key activities like maintenance. Understand what notice your contact says you will be given and what the parameters are here.

Another key consideration when it comes to SLA is compensation. Downtime can have huge effects on your businesses functionality and depending on severity could tarnish reputation.

By understanding your SLA you are more capable to assess the potential impact an outage could have, what you should expect in relation to downtime and if your organisation could manage this in day to day workings.

Ask yourself: how much time out can your business take without your business suffering. Is it an inconvenience or a hindrance?

There are huge discrepancies across SLAs for CSPs. Understand your SLA, and be aware that it is likely skewed in the providers favour. Knowledge is power.

5. Good relationships are founded on trust

You are putting sensitive data and critical applications in the hands of your provider. You need to have trust that if they can manage this data, they can manage to get you back on board in a reasonable time frame and without real stresses to your business.

Your provider needs to be reliable and secure, and ultimately be able to protect your data even when there is down time.

There should be minimal doubt when you sign that dotted line.

Ask yourself: what do you know about this provider, their history and their capacity. Understand your demands and their solutions. Do your research, and if you find any red flags, don’t hesitate to ask.

Original publication on CSO.

Cyber security threats through the Cloud

As with most of technology, security goes through periodic changes, cycles and generations. Hardware, software, applications and methodologies all arrive, become commoditised and standardized to the point of being invisible, and then come back in a new evolved form. New platforms and new devices create new opportunities but are also subject to new evolved threats – something that remains true of security.

Cloud Computing: a brand new landscape for threats

IT security threats evolve and adapt to the new IT environment. As corporate and personal IT usage habits have changed, so too have the types of security threats present in the world. New IT practices like Cloud Computing give end-users great benefits in terms of mobility, flexibility and productivity, but they also give malicious third parties new routes to breaching security and increase risks. So while the Cloud has given users a whole new world of mobile computing, it has also created a whole new landscape for hackers and viruses to attack from.

The rise and rise of mobile usage and the Cloud have seen third party attackers change their approaches. Cloud services, social media websites and Android operating system devices have all become new targets, while traditional user data and website denial of service hacks remain popular.

Recent malicious examples in Australasia have included the damaging loss of over 20,000 customer passwords by surf wear brand Billabong and Web giant Google having its Australia office’s building control system hacked into. Similarly it was revealed recently that the Reserve Bank of Australia wascompromised by a phishing attack, while the Commonwealth Bank of Australia recently stated, in the light of hacking attacks on Australia Security Intelligence Organization, that cyber security is among its top concerns.

The risks posed by hackers and phishing attacks haven’t gone away, they’ve just evolved.

the ever-changing nature of the cyber security threat

Cyber security attacks and the ways in which they affect people and organizations are always in a state of transformation. As one IT specialist finds a solution to a particular problem or type of attack, so the creative hackers out there come up with something new and improved.

So as the Cloud has played out its role as both a disruptor and an enabler in the technology world, so too new threats have emerged from it. The leading threat to both organizations and individuals is data breaches. Companies fear sensitive corporate data falling into the hands of competitors, private citizens fear their bank details and credit card information being misappropriated and abused. This is of course not a new threat in itself, but the Cloud enables new routes to the hack, virtual machines and poorly-designed multitenant databases both offering different access points.

In addition to data breaches and data loss, there are the ever-present threats of account hijacking and denial of service, both of which can now be attempted differently thanks to the Cloud. API keys – the coding that Cloud applications use to identify each other – are another tool in the hacker’s armory, allowing malicious parties to launch denial of service attacks or accumulate fees and charges on a victim’s account.

cyber security: a critical business issue

So while the threat is still similar in nature to previously, the avenues to getting in have increased. What this means is that it is time for companies to start thinking about security as a defined strategic issue.

Data security threats and attacks are major factors in successfully achieving regulatory compliance, whatever industry a company might be in. Non-compliance through having inadequate protection of corporate and customer data is a terrifying thought for any company director, so cyber security now really needs to sit at the top of any senior executive’s ‘to do’ list.

but end-users suffer too

At an individual level, the Cloud has helped to bring phishing into the mainstream of cyber security threats. Phishing was previously quite an insidious tactic, but today it has become incredibly brazen and up front, particularly in the mobile world. Because people now use their mobile devices by second nature, often inputting their password dozens of times a day, users are simply less vigilant.

It is estimated that mobile users look at their devices for one reason or another up to 150 times per day – this means entering that precious four-digit PIN code repeatedly – and how many end-users are really certain about what site they are distractedly tapping their password into?

changing threats mean changing strategy

To address this ever-changing security threat, a change of thinking is required. For many years companies and governments acknowledged the need for IT security, were both aware of and concerned about the threats involved, but were still very reactive. So this change in thinking means no longer considering IT security as ‘just’ an IT issue. The focus must change to making cyberspace a strategic asset which requires as much security as physical borders and buildings do.

The Australian government has recently taken the proactive step of investing in cyber security, identifying the threat as a strategic one which affects not just ‘the Web’, but the country’s entire economy, infrastructure and the nation’s future prosperity. It has been estimated that during 2012, 5 million Australians were affected by cyber security issues, at a cost to the country of around $1.6 billion. So it is to the government’s credit that even in an election year it has given the problem due consideration and taken the initiative, ploughing money into cyber security. That’s how significant an issue cyber security and the new threats available through the Cloud have become.

risk management is required at all three levels

The evolution of cyber security threats to the new environment means that the threat exists at three different levels

  • the personal
  • the organizational
  • and the nation state or community level.

At each of these levels the consequences can be dramatic and risk management is required at all three levels.

Original Publication

The rise and rise of the “as-a-service” (XaaS)

I recently blogged about Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and how its cloud-based communications and collaboration tools can help companies be more productive. The “as-a-service” (XaaS) approach is really at the heart of so much business transformation at the moment and it is fair to say that it is becoming a strategy in its own right. It is creating a whole new paradigm for customers and service providers.

XaaS: what’s new?

In the past we typically used to ship or download physical products as we needed them, but the introduction of cloud computing as a heavyweight enabler has given rise to the XaaS model. The XaaS approach brings with it an ongoing relationship between customer and supplier, in which there is constant communication, regular status updates and a genuine two-way, real-time exchange of information.

Original Publication

This makes XaaS an attractive approach for customers, they really seem to be buying into it – the managed service nature of the relationship means they have to commit less money up front while enjoying less risk and still keeping up-to-date with the very latest technologies and product developments. Plus companies can also scale up or down, depending on their needs at a given moment in time – another important influencer on costs and another of those flexibility enhancers.

how mobile is helping power the XaaS revolution

So in the same way that the cloud itself has been a disruptive development for conventional IT’s ways of getting things done, so the as-a-service model is also changing the game. It is fair to say that the cloud is effectively the next step in the evolution of the internet, and the cloud is the conduit through which everything will in future be delivered as a service.

The XaaS model is changing everything in that it is both taking over applications and also taking over service delivery channels and basically cutting out the traditional middle man. With mobility becoming the new norm and the standard way of doing things, people can access the services and applications they want no matter where they are. Mobility, mobile device proliferation and the shift to faster mobile broadband connectivity are all helping to accelerate the process.

XaaS going mainstream

Software as a Service (SaaS) was arguably the first area in which the cloud delivery XaaS model found its way into the commercial mainstream, and the sector has gained significant momentum since then. Gartner predicts that the worldwide SaaS market will exceed $22 billion in 2015, almost double its value in 2011.

The benefits that SaaS brings to companies are true of all the other XaaS alternatives, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Storage as a Service, Security as a Service, UCaaS and others. The big data revolution is seeing more organizations look into the possibilities offered by storage as a service – companies are creating more internal and external communications data, more video and so on, which means that storing data securely becomes an increasingly significant legal and compliance issue.

So by outsourcing these service provisions to a qualified expert partner, organizations immediately get lower “Total Cost of Ownership” (TCO) than with traditional, on-premises solutions. Deployment of services and applications is faster and easier which means that companies can reduce OPEX and get new offerings and services to market faster. The initial CAPEX is lower, IT support expenditure is reduced through the XaaS model and scalability is built-in to the proposition. Design obsolescence is also a thing of the past under an XaaS model. So it becomes another major disruptor for suppliers.

Overall people are switching on to the XaaS model because it takes the TCO and converts it from being a concern into something which is more controllable, and which has agreed service levels. Traditionally, IT initiatives were known for suffering from project overruns, where companies didn’t know what they would get at the end of a process which took longer than intended and which of course cost more. Those types of incidents were what cost CIOs their jobs. The XaaS approach removes this risk and while there can be a worry about having less control over the whole, companies have come round to seeing the benefits as outweighing this.

but the network remains key

So while the benefits and reduced risks of the XaaS model are clear, the network backbone is what powers the proposition forward. Cloud services all rely on a robust network to give the reliability that services need and that end-users expect, so as companies make the shift to the XaaS paradigm, they must always think about their networks too. If reliable, high speed connectivity is not available then the user experience declines and the proposition weakens.

innovation acceleration

Perhaps the real proof point of the XaaS model is that it genuinely accelerates innovation. No customer likes deploying something and then finding that a new version of the software, hardware or whatever has come along a few months later and they are already behind the curve. Under the XaaS approach, innovation can occur in real-time, customer feedback can be gathered and acted on immediately, organizations – and their own customer offerings – are able to stay at the cutting edge with minimal effort.

This is where XaaS distinguishes itself from the traditional thinkers who still believe that it’s better to build things themselves – the traditionalists will end up spending a lot more money to be locked into something that could pretty soon be out of date. Open integration environments that encourage application development are flourishing. And through this kind of innovation the smart providers of today are set to kill off the old paradigm by opensourcing this ongoing innovation and new ideas.

This new paradigm, now has a number of competing labels emerging. We will see with increasing frequency XaaS from our industry, no matter which label the industry adopts, the ‘Everything as a Service’ or ‘Anything as a Service’ label. One thing is guaranteed, we will continue to see the rise and rise of the “Everything-as-a-Service” /  “Anything-as-a-Service” (XaaS) model.

Cloud is growing up and challenging IT and business assumptions

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:

  1. losing IT regulation
  2. supplier shut in
  3. data control
  4. 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.

  1. in the early stages of cloud adoption with less mature customers, public cloud is used in an ad hoc fashion with widespread virtualisation
  2. as businesses begin to realise the potential benefits, key processes are shifted to the cloud as the IT environment becomes more complex
  3. 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.

Happy ending?

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.

Original Publication