Why the cloud is essential for modern business

Business communications and networks are changing. The new IT service delivery model is based around collaboration and looks to deliver business performance improvements as a result. This HP white paper considers how companies should address these changes and how the cloud can help.

Collaboration in the cloud

Collaborative technology can reshape relationships within organisations, across supply chains and with customers. Cloud computing, mobility and collaboration will improve IT service delivery across all aspects of business operations. As part of this movement, cloud computing services consumed from external service providers (ESPs) by companies worldwide are steadily increasing.

Companies are looking to the cloud to support IT service delivery models like software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). However, some argue that, with the cloud, many firms are in fact moving to an everything-as-a-service (EaaS) model.

As part of these trends, there is a shift towards a utility approach for services, resulting in changes in spending from traditional IT assets in the data centre, and towards assets accessed in the cloud instead. But with this shift comes new demands placed on those expected to plan and deploy these IT service delivery requirements.

Cloud service providers

That is why some organisations may need help in finding the right cloud service or application for corporate users, partners and customers - and is good news for IT service providers that combine their professional services with cloud deployment expertise.

As Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer notes: "What sits between you and the cloud will become a critical success factor in cloud computing, as cloud services multiply and expand faster than the ability of cloud consumers to manage or govern them in use."

Technology as a service via the cloud

The cloud is also driving migration from the 'IT as a cost centre' model to a more business-centric 'IT as a service' model - the utility computing model previously mentioned.

This new model of IT creates improved approaches at each critical layer of a modern IT architecture: infrastructure, applications and end-user access.

In other words, IT shifts from simply producing IT services to optimising production and consumption of those services in ways consistent with business requirements. This changes the role of IT from a cost centre to a centre of strategic value.

A cloud infrastructure embracing this principle will likely lead to increased productivity. Technology and services will be delivered to corporate users and customers that enable them to do their jobs better or complete transactions faster, as opposed to the technologies being deployed to support IT itself.

With this model, IT should be able to produce services using self-service, with policies and contracts naturally aligning resources to business needs. The physical boundaries that have governed enterprise IT will erode, establishing pools of resources combining those of the enterprise data centre with those provided by cloud providers. This will be done without compromising security or quality of service.

For the consumer of IT services, the result should be the limitless availability of on-demand resources, with cost structures and performance levels matched to business priorities.

A corporate cloud struggle for many

Yet according to an annual survey from BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, only 10 per cent of digital leaders feel their organisation has enough resources to address the key management issues and IT trends - including cloud deployments - that their company has prioritised.

More than half of the digital leaders/CIOs polled (57 per cent) said they needed enhanced IT skills among their existing workforce, 48 per cent required additional IT staff that were "suitably qualified," while 37 per cent simply wanted a bigger budget.

The respondents were also asked what they considered to be their organisation's top three IT priorities for the next 12 months, with 57 per cent rating mobile computing as the number one concern, followed closely by information security (53 per cent) and cloud computing (49 per cent).

"More organisations are realising that such technological developments can potentially benefit their business, help increase productivity and ensure business continuity," the Institute noted.

In addition, the report asked decision makers to look further ahead and consider the priorities for their organisations for the next three to five years - these were information security (55 per cent), cloud computing (48 per cent) and big data (47 per cent).

Adam Thilthorpe, director of professionalism for the Institute, opined: "These results reinforce the impact IT has on business today. The digital leader or CIO needs the right people with the right skills to enable an organisation to improve productivity, increase efficiency and maximise competitive advantage in the marketplace."

What is also clear is that the cloud is key to strategic planning in the business world - and organisations that don't get a handle on it now will become business laggards rather than business leaders in the future.

The cloud: Protecting data, enabling mobility

In summary, some of the key IT services that can be delivered via the cloud include:

  • Cloud data storage with data-retention IT consulting services that deliver a flexible solution for managing and retrieving data over the Internet on a pay-as-you-go basis
  • Cloud-based on-demand identity and access management services that make it easier and more cost-effective for enterprise clients to securely extend and manage user access to cloud-based resources, while maintaining control over policies and governance
  • Security-as-a-service to give companies the ability to quickly and easily add robust safeguards and avoid purchasing expensive equipment. Such services enable customers to quickly and easily secure new locations with the latest technology. They are also capable of using a centralised management console that supports real-time provisioning and administration
  • Enterprise mobility-as-a-service which allows on-the-go workers to quickly and securely access their corporate networks, while making it easier for IT managers to oversee a global mobile workforce. Such an offering may use advanced software and an intuitive user interface to enable employee laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones to detect and connect to the best network service available

To learn more about how the cloud could benefit your business, check out the wealth of resources available in our HP Cloud section.