Aligning Cloud Strategies With Business Results

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
Cloud strategies and business

Enterprises that get things right with a cloud-centric framework that places a heavy emphasis on public clouds can transform and perhaps disrupt their business.

The approach is strategic as well as practical. It's helping to cut costs and boost internal efficiency, while also helping the company develop a more strategic business model by expanding the types of products and services it offers to customers. "We are adopting a more collaborative business approach and becoming a more trusted partner," Paubel says.

For example, Maritz relies on auto-provisioning to manage IT resources in a more seamless and invisible way. Customers can switch on or off the company's products and services, and Maritz automatically adjusts its computing resources appropriately through AWS or Azure.

"We are able to switch away from manual and administrative tasks—and no longer worry about licensing issues—and refocus on soft skills and more strategic issues," Paubel explains. Using the Orchestrations automation module in ServiceNow, the company can more easily track ticketing issues, view performance dashboards and restart services at crucial moments.

"We've automated even the simplest things, like SSL renewals," he reports. "We now plan to expand the use of the cloud framework and move more heavily into software-as-a-service and other areas."

Transitioning to a Cloud-Centric Framework

A public cloud framework allows an enterprise to adapt resources dynamically to meet compute demand, development requirements and other tasks. It also can make it easier to divest businesses or plug in new businesses by simply moving computing resources and data from one cloud provider to another.

"You have the business in AWS and simply toss the keys over to the acquirer," Accenture's Liebow says. What's more, cloud service providers like AWS, Microsoft and Google offer a growing array of tools and applications, including turnkey analytics systems. "Today, there are very few situations where the public cloud doesn't make sense," he points out.

Of course, as an organization transitions to a cloud-centric framework and relies more heavily on public clouds, a strong governance framework is critical. Cloud sprawl and a hodge-podge of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS services can undermine cost advantages and operational efficiencies— and can also lead to chaos. Dealing with permissions—who has access to services, and how and when they are used—can make or break an initiative.

This leads a growing number of organizations down the path of managed cloud service providers. "You have to have certain guardrails and oversight," Liebow advises.

In addition, a cloud-centric operating model can ripple into other issues, including procurement models (OPEX vs. CAPEX), staffing levels and roles, skills and competencies, and much more. At some point, "It's no longer about IT operations, it's about cloud operations," he adds.

Not surprisingly, organizations that get things right can witness transformative and sometimes disruptive gains through a cloud-centric framework that places a heavy emphasis on public clouds. In a best-case scenario, they can build a foundation for a faster, better enterprise that is designed for digital business.

"When organizations closely align their cloud strategy with business outcomes, they're able to achieve truly impressive results," Liebow concludes. "Agility, flexibility and innovation become achievable."

This article was originally published on 2017-06-23
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
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