Keeping your IT department agile with Cloud Services

Jenny Carpenter

Despite occasional snippets of good news and glimpses of recovery, it’s still fair to say that businesses are working through tough times.

Sadly, if you run an IT department, you’re probably used to IT being a reducible cost when budgets get tight, and with not much light visible at the end of the economic tunnel; this is unlikely to change any time soon.

With this in mind, it makes sense to take steps to make agility a priority for your IT infrastructure.

Although some “old school” IT managers remain stubbornly resistant to the attractions of cloud services, these individuals are becoming increasingly isolated. A recent survey from North Bridge Venture Partners, in association with GigaOM Research, revealed that 75% of respondents are now using some form of cloud service within their IT infrastructure.

One reason for the continuing march towards the cloud is the obvious and high profile push from major vendors. The past year has seen two great examples of this:

  1. Microsoft discontinuing Small Business Server, the backbone of a vast number of SMB networks, in a move to push the sector towards the cloud.
  2. Adobe making all future releases of their industry-leading Creative Suite products available exclusively “as a service” via Adobe Creative Cloud.

The good news for your IT department is that in reality you are far better served by the new generation of cloud services than you were by the old way of doing things.

Consider the rollout of a new system: Previously, you would have to base license counts and storage capacities on vague predictions. While this may have worked during boom times, it’s not a great model when times are hard and every penny counts. Now, you can roll out the same functionality with a cloud service but pay only for what you need right now. If demand for the system increases, cloud services bring inherent scalability. This is clearly preferable to the risk of disaster if you didn’t get the server specifications quite right.

If you’ve not been keeping track of the cloud-based alternatives to some of the things you do internally, it’s well worth having another look at the marketplace. Cloud service providers have been very responsive to customer needs and have done much to eliminate the doubts of all but the most traditional IT people!

At the same time, the focus of products has undergone some change. The very fact that businesses are now buying a service has not gone unnoticed; something illustrated by the fact that in-depth reporting for the business is almost a “given” on the features list of industry-leading cloud products.

Meanwhile, the datacenter infrastructures supporting these cloud systems have developed to use advanced multi-tenancy technology, which keeps prices low as well as ensuring clients’ data are compartmentalized and secure.

There’s no longer any IT service that can’t be handled from the cloud, from core user-facing systems that handle all the file, print and authentication that used to require “on premise” systems, to all of the back-end stuff that the IT department needs but the business always resents paying for: antivirus, patch management and monitoring being just three. It makes sense for the business to pay only for what it needs right now, rather than predict needs too far ahead, and cloud services exist that allow this to be the reality.

So, in conclusion, however long you’ve been in the industry, try not to fight progress. Cloud services are now very much “up to standard”, and provide you with the tools you need to provide a first class, agile IT service that management is sure to appreciate.