Cloud: Cutting through the hype for SMEs

The progress of cloud computing in recent years has resulted in a major advantage and opportunity for businesses of all sizes, especially SME's, to design, build, test, deploy and manage applications, platforms and infrastructure in completely new ways. The impact of the introduction of cloud on traditional IT can be confusing and convoluted.

SME's should be looking to compliment traditional on-premise IT with cloud enablement via lifecycle management; where the appropriate balance of managed on-premise, dedicated and multi-tenant hosted cloud services is achieved to support their business. For each organisation, the mix of computing models will continue to evolve as the business application requirements change and new services become available in the market.

To achieve the right outcome and benefit from the promise of cloud, organisations need to understand what types of workloads and data types are best suited to cloud, which are more suited to traditional IT environments, and which can span both of these platforms. Each workload has its own performance, availability, reliability and security requirements; and every organisation will need to define a holistic cloud strategy with its own mix of traditional and cloud compute to make IT efficient and business agile, now and in the future.

Whilst public and private cloud models are well understood, and generally well positioned there is an increasing amount of hype - especially from new entrants as they seek to differentiate themselves from the big players in what is rapidly becoming a commodity sale space.

Many IaaS, PaaS or SaaS providers require organisations to move towards them in a rigid fashion, culminating ultimately in less value recognition than the “fanatical” hype suggests - 'you can have commodity PaaS and have every colour you want as long as it's black'.

If organisations move to this type of provision, it will initially appear cost effective. However without the agility and flexibility the true costs can be very different in reality. Commodity providers have no capability to understand an organisations' business objectives and requirements and cannot provide the agility an organisation requires and maintain a scalable competitive price.

What is missing?

A provider that can offer a solution designed specifically to meet business needs, taking a holistic view of all compute resources and understanding where it is appropriate to use commodity cloud components or design and implement a specialist platform. It’s not ‘the cloud’ it’s a cloud and the use of “cloud compute” - being able to build controlled responsiveness that gives all the enablement needed without any compromise.

With this in mind make sure that the on-premise environment is cloud enabled and thus designed and built as an Application Ready Infrastructure with in-life systems management adopting a continuous integration approach.

Organisations can choose the appropriate cloud components for the chosen workload(s) / data type(s). One example is moving an internal development environment to a specialist PaaS solution.

For SMEs who don’t have a well-resourced IT department, SaaS is not the only option open to organisations wanting to benefit from cloud. Correctly, consumed cloud components offer:

• Agility, elasticity and speed of response
• Price advantages and cost efficiencies
• More choice, more options
• Assess to the latest technologies without the cost of implementation and ownership
• Improved SLAs
• Enterprise agility suited to an SME’s budget.

Things to consider

It can be easy to be seduced by commodity PaaS pricing and forget to focus on a solution that’s right for the business. Organisation will also need to recognise that not all workloads or data types will be suitable for a cloud environment and some will probably need to stay on-premise.

Commodity PaaS vendors will not assist with on-premise requirements or internal management making it difficult to manage the entire estate. It’s important to have lifecycle management across the entire estate to keep it sustainable.

Commodity PaaS seldom works for agile SMEs who are developing their own bespoke application, owned-software or solutions, and organisations that have seasonal or fluctuating resource. They need to have a more bespoke solution tailored to their specific requirements.

Hidden costs can be a real issue and it is vital to ensure that organisations only pay for what is needed and don't consume more than they can afford. Consider usage, OPEX and CAPEX.

Common myths

• Everything should be in the cloud
• Cloud automatically means high availability
• Cloud will be simpler
• Cloud is always cheaper
• Cloud is always insecure
• It's a trap!

Claranet SOHO works with SMEs to help them think more strategically within the business, determining the right IT investments to drive revenue and profitability. We recognise that using the appropriate cloud components for business is critical to driving increased value. We can also help create the agility and scalability needed to deliver IT innovations quickly and efficiently. We help to protect data, reduce risk, ensure service quality at the right price and avoid vendor lock-in – the trap!

Claranet SOHO specialise in understanding that one size does not fit all and every organisation has its own unique requirements and delivering solutions against them.

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