When an IT-as-a-Service Makes Sense for Your Mixed IT Strategy
By Nick Ilitch, VP Product Management, Secure-24
One of the most difficult challenges faced by many CIOs and others in IT leadership is finding ways to keep pace with the competition while still utilizing their aging and often unsupported infrastructure. Right along with that issue is an equally significant problem of how to enable business users to access the company’s key data resources from any device, anywhere, and anytime 24x7x365. And, one of the biggest challenges we are seeing among our customers is the struggle to support the exploding number of applications and devices that are regarded as “business critical”.
Finding Balance in a Mixed Cloud Strategy
There is no doubt business relies on IT to support every aspect of a complex organization, and this reliance is growing by leaps and bounds in 2016 and beyond. As a result, we are seeing more and more businesses transitioning to IT-as-a-Service and implementing a mixed IT cloud strategy.
Now the question is, which model right for you?
With faster, better and more reliable technologies developed each year, a mixed IT strategy is not only necessary, but critical to achieving a company’s year-over-year profitability goals. From a practical point of view, it would be costly to justify replacing outdated hardware assets frequently; but not adopting some of the latest technologies, for example advancements in security, monitoring and performance could mean increased downtime, slower performance, and decreased productivity.
CIOs must strike a balance between investing in the new and optimizing the old and must determine what to outsource operationally and what to retain and develop strategically.
CIOs have a variety of ways to design and run their IT departments. It is important that IT strategies address the needs of internal users while meeting the goals of the business within the confines of IT budgets. In a mixed IT strategy, the organization will support and host some of their computing resources internally while a third party hosting partner will handle the rest. Both sides are enabled to simply excel at what they do best, and clients are empowered to focus on competitive growth.
The transformation process from a traditional IT model to the IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) operational model can be a gradual process, as the organization as a whole needs to embrace this new concept from a cultural standpoint – how do we measure partners in acting as a true extension of the team? Most companies find a mixed IT strategy works best as they evolve to become an ITaaS organization, and evolve to match the vision set forth by company leaders. For example, a major manufacturing client realized a distinguishable competitive advantage by quickly being able to on-board newly acquired production operations to their existing supply chain by focusing their team fully on strategic acquisition and already had shifted to an ITaaS model to enable them to focus on speed of integration. This ITaaS transformation doesn’t need to take long, as most clients realize true business value in less than six months – with incredible returns in cost savings, increased service and performance.
One of the most common elements in a mixed strategy is the incorporation of public and private cloud computing. In a study conducted by Cisco of over 600 IT professionals, 70% said they will tactically deploy some type of cloud services by 2015 as part of a mixed IT strategy. We’ve now seen this and will continue to see it climb beyond 90% in the next three years.
Fortune 500 companies cite the key reason for moving toward a cloud model is their need for increased agility and, more specifically, the demand from the business for IT to rapidly deliver much needed new services.
Realizing the ITaaS vision requires a transformation mentality, and the IT organization needs a strategy that helps facilitate the evolutionary process. This includes taking advantage of virtualization technologies in parallel with a cloud framework to provide on-demand computing resources.
ITaaS, delivers numerous capabilities that will ultimately translate to business benefits. Bringing multiple services behind one Service Level Agreement (SLA) allows clients to focus on what they do best, and still expect a high level of performance, communication and transparency from their cloud partner.
What to Consider for a Mixed IT Strategy
For an IT strategy to be consider ‘mixed’ it has to have at least some of the components that are hosted internally by the company and one or more of the components that are hosted externally by a third party. In our experience, we’ve found there are several common questions CIOs should answer when considering moving to a mixed environment.
• Which cloud is best for our business: public, hybrid or private cloud?
• On-premise or off-premise hosting and why?
• How do we measure performance from a hosting partner?
• When should we replace legacy systems?
• Is in-memory computing and solid-state drives a viable option? If so, how soon?
• What do we adopt, how much do we invest, and how do we integrate to existing infrastructure?
• How do we support mobile/edge technologies?
• Can we provide enough security? What happens when we need more?
• What is the best Disaster Recovery option?
Ultimately, ITaaS is about business and the results it can create. Increasing the speed of IT, improving agility, and accelerating time to market is the new reality for IT – and it all boils down to this – a service-oriented vision, the right partner ecosystem and making it happen.