On a recent flight, as I sat staring out the window, I realised that each cloud was different. And not only that, but even the same cloud changed appearance from my changing viewpoint. Of course this got me thinking about the similarities between white fluffy clouds and the computing idea of cloud.
With so many different definitions, perspectives and views on the cloud, it’s often difficult for customers and users to articulate what their requirements actually are.
A case in point is a conversation I had the other day with a potential customer — a technology manager — that needed to change his company’s data centre footprint. His requirement was for a disaster recovery solution that met certain criteria and he wanted to explore a cloud solution. However, conversations with other vendors revolved mostly around storage. To put that into perspective, there are a number of ways to fulfil these requirements and ultimately what this prospect needed was a knowledgeable company to talk him through those options.
Think about it this way: it’s like moving house. You call a moving company who merely asks you how many rooms you have and then supplies a quote without ever viewing your home. What’s to say you haven’t got two rooms completely filled with furniture? Or one that is empty? What about your basement filled with difficult-to-move workbenches and tools? Essentially what you need is a moving company that visits your home, looks at each room and then scopes out the requirements.
When it comes to cloud there are numerous ways to fulfil and shape the computing power that is needed for an organisation to achieve what it needs to help drive it into the future.
An example of this would be DVSA — the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency — who is responsible for MOTs in the UK. The agency moved part of their requirements to public cloud (AWS). MOTs can’t be completed overnight, only during business hours, so why should the DVSA have that computing power at night? Simply put, it shouldn’t because it’s not needed. So while the DVSA still does have a core central computing infrastructure that is not hosted by AWS, it simply flexes up into the public cloud as it needs to. In this instance the on-demand model works well to allow the agency to increase its requirements as it needs to. The one potential downside is that it is difficult to quantify the costs of that flex without knowing how much is needed.
The opposite can be seen as well — the requirement to hit stringent recovery times or objectives, or to meet specific legislation for your organisation or your customer. There are considerable conversations around this and usually open up around data security and sovereignty. A potential customer from Austria once asked if Pulsant was a UK company, where our data is held and where our employees are located. When we answered “UK” to each question, the conversation continued. Potential customers often need to check those boxes before we can even begin to talk about our solutions.
That points to some of the fundamental reasons why cloud is so varied. In the above example, the premise of cloud was in direct opposition to what the prospect wanted to get from cloud. The key lies in the ability to offer those different options and providing a starting point to begin the journey into the cloud.
I hear more and more about people wanting to go into the cloud, but don’t know where to start. So we take them through the outcomes and suggest possible stepping stones to start. And this can be as simple as customers need to rationalise the number and age of their domain controllers, which starts the step into the cloud, or shifting the email solution.
Increasingly the cloud is not just about a pool of resource, but also about how people can use it to achieve their desired outcomes — and that is increasingly about delivering business outcomes not about running IT. IT was brought into business to make it more efficient and successful and the cloud is now bringing this about again. Cloud allows businesses, regardless of size, to take advantage of scale that can be achieved at smaller delivery points, giving them a slice of enterprise infrastructure. This brings with it the ability to make use of new and efficient technologies and enabling growth, expansion and contraction to come when it is required.
The key to this is recognising what the outcomes are and allowing that goal to be achieved in a way that not only works for the organisation, but also supports the business’s future plans.