Responsible Cloud?

More than a tech buzzword, the Cloud is changing the way we do business. Find out how you can harness its capabilities to push your organisation to its fullest potential.

By Gary Kinsley, Vice President, CloudFX


The beauty of the IT industry is its ability to regularly create wonderful new terms and acronyms that define how our lives will all be changed by the latest must-have innovations. One such recent concept is the already much-used term ‘Cloud computing.’ For what it’s worth, while this term is fashionably used to describe pretty much anything IT related at the moment, the concept is very definitely here to stay and will reshape the way we work and play. Moreover, Cloud is a very responsible way to... compute!


Cloud technically means three things: Infrastructure, Platform and Software—all being offered as a Service. These are respectively written as ‘IaaS,’ ‘PaaS’ and ‘SaaS.’ In essence, the Cloud concept provides for these three ‘layers’ of computing services to be delivered to users in a hosted and managed environment, saving the user (Governments and Enterprises large and small) from actually having to buy the computer hardware and software licences. Sometimes, they are referred to as ‘private Cloud,’ sometimes ‘public Cloud’ and, when combined, ‘hybrid Cloud.’


Cloud touches us all today—Dropbox, Facebook, LinkedIn, iCloud, most games and many, many business applications we all use today are applications or services that are hosted in the Cloud. The benefit to consumers is that the service can be paid for as it is used, saving on the upfront cost of capital expenditure. However, the real beauty of a Cloud model and the reason for the applicability to responsibility is that computing infrastructure can be much more efficiently used by allowing multiple users, or ‘tenants,’ to share a common virtual computing infrastructure. In addition, Cloud tenanting and orchestration of services means that, if applied properly, the productivity benefits in a business environment can be significantly enhanced.
This presents a unique opportunity for the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of companies to structure the IT department around the concept of providing a Cloud brokerage service to all other departments within the organisation. Progressive CIO’s are developing this concept already. Rather than having the different departments or Business Units (BUs) pay cloud providers such as Google or Amazon Web Services for hosted applications, SaaS and data storage out of their own operating expenses (OpEx)—and perhaps not getting the cost benefits of scale—CIOs can now provide a self-serve Cloud brokerage service that provides the BUs with the desired services while providing optimal service levels, all within an sensible cost framework.
The winners therefore are the companies whose CIOs proactively embrace Cloud services by driving their IT departments to offer a brokered Cloud service, governed by migration policies for the BUs within a secure, structured service delivery framework—public, private or hybrid. Moreover, the beneficiaries in the IT supply chain are the Channel Partners capable of consulting on and assisting in the delivery of such Cloud migration and business innovation services. This means Channel Partners must increasingly evolve into providing vertical business specialisations. Generalist Channel Partners are likely to struggle at the expense of Domain Expert Channel Partners, selling into specific departments focused on their unique business function, and the Cloud service providers themselves who win on scale. This furthermore facilitates the workgroup and collaboration concept of users and Cloud business models, whereby the well-placed Channel Partner is a trusted advisor and is therefore well entrenched in their customers.
Smart CIOs and BU heads making informed decisions on the technology available to them to best operate their businesses will increasingly use the expertise of specialist Cloud consultants to assist with transition and Cloud migration services, and the expertise of domain specialists in their given field will be needed. Identifying Cloud-skilled consultants is thus a must, as is engaging domain experts around given industries that can no longer rely on hardware and software licences to maintain their business validity. They can sell their industry specialisations either in partnership with the Cloud consultants and Cloud service providers, or / and as application service providers in their own rights (purveyors of SaaS).
In an industry dominated by clever, young mavericks, IT is suddenly looking remarkably responsible.