Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Rain

Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Rain

Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Rain

Almost every IT organization is looking toward a future where more and more of their infrastructure moves into the cloud. Unfortunately, many of these organizations will stumble on their way to the cloud. The problem is often one of understanding the opportunity and how it maps to your business. Even more fundamentally the problem can be a misunderstanding of how IT should work for your organization. I think one of the biggest changes that is coming to complex organizations is that IT is going to become fundamentally about providing services to the organization. As such it will once again be measured on the outcomes it provides–exactly like every other organizational resource.

This may be a bigger shift than you think because for years IT managers have played the complexity card for so many years that in many organizations the “business” has learned its place. They’ve gone through long deployment cycles, built costly custom applications and lived with the enormous costs of dedicated on premise infrastructure. Every time the business complained they were told they just don’t understand, or that the reason was “complicated.” I believe that some of the slow adoption we see in the cloud is related to the fear some IT managers have in giving up the “complicated” card. The problem for these managers is that the cat is out of the bag. People’s lives are being changed every day by services that live in the cloud and securely interact with people. At some point they are going to stop believing that this same level of capability isn’t possible at work.

If external public cloud solutions are evaluated side by side with in house solutions there is a fear that the in house solutions will come up short and thereby lose the confidence of the business.  This is a real possibility given the maturity of some cloud solutions, the inherent advantage they have in achieving scales of economy and the benefits of having in many cases thousands of clients to have developed best practice in a particular domain area.

That isn’t to say on premise can’t win. Some things may simply be judged as too sensitive to perform outside of the business, have legal requirements that prevent movement to the cloud or simply be so custom to the business that there is no cloud model that is applicable. This is becoming fewer and farther in between. Mature cloud environments like those at Amazon, Google and Salesforce provide incredible robust enabling everything from plug and place applications to highly configurable and customizable infrastructure environments.

 

For IT managers the trick is in transitioning to providing advice on when to use these various models when to provision internally and serving as an honest broker between internal and external services.  I’ve seen a lot of adversarial meetings where internal IT resources advocate against cloud solutions in a way that sounds a lot more like they are supporting their internal product rather than serving as a trusted advisor counseling the business on the choices they have for solutions.

IT organizations that fail to take on this trusted advisor role may find themselves losing the trust of the business followed closely by the business of the business. Don’t put yourself in this predicament.  The forecast for the future is cloudy. Positioning your organization as a trusted advisor capable of understanding the tradeoffs that are a part of organizational success in the cloud.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

What type of cloud (Saas, PaaS, IaaS) is best for your organization?

Using SaaS to solve problems.

Using SaaS to Solve Problems.

Everybody is talking about the cloud right now. Unfortunately they often aren’t making many distinctions. Cloud simply equals cloud. However there is a big difference between just moving dumping your on premise boxes to move into a public cloud offering (IaaS) and buying a true SaaS solution.

Moving your boxes “to the cloud” may help help you cut some infrastructure costs, but it doesn’t necessarily solve a business problem. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for finding infrastructure savings in the cloud. However I think people should differentiate between SaaS, PaaS and IaaS and and look at their business application portfolio for cloud opportunities in the following order:

1. Can we do it with a SaaS solution? Software as a service provides capabilities your organizations need “on-demand.” Start here because turnkey often equals the most transformative impact on the organization. Everybody thinks their organization is unique…and it is…however it is probably not so unique that it can’t use a standard solution to solve many of its problems.  A lot of money gets wasted every day because an organization simply couldn’t figure out how to achieve their business goals in a bit closer to a standard fashion. When looking at the possibility of SaaS keep an open mind about your existing business processes and how a SaaS solution might help you focus on your business not your business application.

2. Can we do it with a PaaS solution? Platform as a service typically includes operating system, database, and/or web server.  If nobody has a ready made solution for the capability your organization requires start looking at PaaS options. Getting your OS, database and other core capabilities served up can help simplify your life and lower your maintenance costs. Just be careful that you understand how upgrade processes work, etc because while you may not have to worry as much about maintaining patch levels and other application and OS level headaches, you may have to deal with issues that come with having others worry about them.

3. Can we do it with a IaaS solution? Infrastructure as a service are essentially virtual machines where you install your own OS, database, etc to build out your applications. If you are not ready to give up control, need complete flexibility or are only ready to take baby steps towards the benefits the cloud can provide this is for you. Let somebody else hug your boxes, while still preserving visitation rights. IaaS can help you take the first steps towards reducing costs, without causing any business layer repercussions.

Its about YOUR business

As a SaaS solution provider I’m a bit biased in my discussion above. However, we got into this business because I believe SaaS makes the most business sense for many organizations and for many capabilities. I’ve spent a lot of time working with organizations that are struggling to reduce costs and deliver capability that is useful to their organization. Millions are spent to deliver custom solutions to very common problems. We chose inspections, assessments and data calls for our app because everybody does them, but few do them well. Because of that I’ve spent much of the last two years migrating people out of access databases, excel spreadsheets and custom solutions and into a more standard set of capabilities.

This isn’t just the case with our software there is a movement afoot around SaaS because the value prop is so straightforward. Save money, save headaches, and get more features and functionality. Where it make sense SaaS solutions are an incredible driver of business value. It allows the organization to get out of the IT business and focus on their real business. Things like inspections, assessments and data calls are handled in a pretty standard way from organization to organization. Why would you build a custom application to handle something so straightforward?

We built ExAM4Enterprise.com to help organizations meet those business requirements without having to roll their own web or mobile application or manage onsite infrastructure. You still own your data, you can still bring it into your other capabilities and applications. You lose nothing except headaches and gain the benefit of our persistent focus on advancing the capabilities of the application in order to maintain our market leadership. For most organizations we offer an over 75% reduction in total cost of ownership while delivering increased capabilities.

How is it possible? We built our app on the Salesforce.com platform. They handle over a billion transactions almost everyday. That scale makes our infrastructure costs negligible. Essentially the backend of our app is built to the scale of more than 120,000 customers including most of the world’s largest organizations. At the same time we are able to completely focus on delivering the capabilities our customers need without having to focus on things like infrastructure and platform. In the end it means that we spend all of our time innovating – not implementing the backend. Our customers get a level of response that simply wasn’t possible 10 years or even 5 years ago.

Interesting in learning more? Take a look at the appexchange to see what sort of SaaS applications exist generally and of course if you have inspection, assessment or data call requirements – take a look at our app, or go to ExAM4Enterprise.com.

 

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.