Business executives and chief information officers face more challenges than ever these days. They are dealing with a litany of issues as the pace of business accelerates and an ever-growing array of new competitors circle around them.
IT hears the questions every day: Why can’t we contact our prospects and partners in a personalized manner? Why can’t we create mobile applications for our employees and deploy them now? Why can’t we engage our customers in a more frictionless way? Why do all my initiatives and plans take soooo long??
These types of questions and challenges are multiplying by the day. How can you respond?
Look to cloud services first.
Whether your initiatives are related to infrastructure modernization and private clouds, middleware stack replacements to connect cloud, mobile, IoT and legacy systems into a suite, or purchasing your next best of breed SaaS application to achieve competitive advantage, you should start by investigating all the cloud-based alternatives first rather than default to traditional on-premise options.
In most cases, you will find these new cloud options to be far more capable of helping you reach your goals than any legacy approach.
The Cloud Equation
I get it. That is a BOLD statement, but let me walk you through my reasoning.
A pure cloud-native service (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) makes it possible for you to procure, install, implement, test, learn and iterate in a fraction of the time than on-premise alternatives. Software installation is virtually instantaneous and hardware requirements are usually minimal with very little to no up front costs (usually via a free trial).
This means that you have the ability to log on to the web/cloud platform, and within minutes you can start exploring and testing whether a cloud service will fit your organization’s needs.
Think about that for a second. Compared to the weeks/months/years (!) that it can take to just get on-premise systems set up, that is amazing. And within a month or so you can quickly determine whether a given cloud service will meet your needs.
So it is abundantly clear that cloud services make it possible for organizations to move far faster, be more nimble, and more effectively support their business groups than on-premise options.
To be clear, I am not saying that all on-premise systems, applications and technologies will only be cloud-based. I believe we will live in a hybrid IT environment for the foreseeable future (at least 5-7 years). Therefore, you will continue to need to address scenarios where on-premise is the choice. But by exploring cloud options first, you will know early, definitively and cheaply whether you need to commit to more costly and slow-moving on-premise options.
Whether you would like to build out a new customer relationship management workflow, dip your toe into big data, cut your IT spend by 30 percent, or however you want to improve your business — a cloud-first strategy is essential.
A Better Way With Cloud Services
Once you select a cloud service . . . then what?
First, you will immediately start benefiting from the intrinsic advantages of true native-cloud technology: anytime, anywhere access; instant access to a service through any web browser; near immediate ability to roll out a new service; and no software to install; no software upgrades to manage; and no servers to buy or data centers to maintain.
How much do you really enjoy those big legacy software release upgrades that take months just to ensure you continue to get support from you vendor? Just say “No!”
Cloud-native services allow you to take all the labor and costs associated with that last legacy system upgrade and redirect those resources towards the projects your business really cares about.
These advantages are becoming increasingly significant compared to traditional software. Many legacy on-premise implementations literally take years to set-up and cost millions of dollars before you can start getting a return on your investment. That’s a huge opportunity cost.
With cloud services, however, you can be up and running in just days or even hours. So, everything’s immediate.
And if for some reason your cloud implementation doesn’t work out, it won’t cripple your business because you’ve haven’t spent two years and $2 million getting the software online. With cloud services, you can avoid large sunk costs while making better IT decisions.
On top of all of those benefits, cloud-based software platforms also scale automatically, easily growing with your needs without any delays to fire up new servers or build out data center capacity.
Clearly, the value of investing in cloud alternatives can be dramatic.
Breaking Free From Traditional IT
The essence of this concept was detailed in a prescient Saugatuck Technology 2013 report on global cloud adoption. This research had a profound influence on my thinking at the time and has stayed with me from the first day of reading the report. Even in 2013 Saugatuck recognized that as cloud-strategy goes, Elvis had left the building.
Saugatuck concluded from the survey that there was “not simply a shift towards cloud, as much as a shift in how enterprise business is executed, managed, and structured, with the cloud as the catalyst.” Saugatuck coined this trend as the “Boundary-Free Enterprise.”
And this is the essence of why “cloud-first” should be the foundation to your IT strategy. While there will still be certain IT projects that might require on-premise systems, in most all cases it will be far more beneficial to your organization to try a cloud option first before going down the on-premise path.
So the IT imperative is clear. Go to the cloud at every opportunity. The cloud provides a far more efficient and streamlined operating model than the legacy systems of old, freeing your organization to better pursue its business strategy and achieve its goals.
Certainly, I believe that time has validated Saugatuck’s concept. Four years later I still believe the take away from this research can’t be emphasized enough, even with all that has changed since then. As you look for ways to address the myriad of IT challenges facing your organization, the core insights of the Saugatuck report should serve as the foundation to your strategic technology decisions.
Look to cloud alternatives first. Give them a try, and only then if they don’t fit your needs begin to consider the on-premise alternatives. Following this strategy will free your organization to compete in today’s digital marketplace.
About the Author
Chris McNabb is Dell Boomi’s chief executive officer