A place for everything with the right cloud environment
By Alex Wilmot, Cloud Services Director, Daisy Group
Much is written about the bottom line cost benefits of cloud adoption, certainly in terms of capex avoidance, or when an organisation is due a tech refresh of ageing, unsupported infrastructure. These are natural decision points to embrace the introduction of hosted or public cloud services, to augment or gradually replace existing systems.
Perhaps less has been written about designing the right cloud environment, putting data, applications and projects in the right place to meet end user requirements and minimise business risk. In particular, how targeting enhanced application performance can deliver cost efficiency whilst underpinning the delivery of organisational goals.
In this article, I am going to delve into how Daisy is helping some of our clients do exactly that, tailoring the right blend of cloud services to suit their context. We are increasingly designing integrated hybrid clouds for our customers. Why?
Undoubtedly the biggest change driver I am addressing today in relation to designing and implementing hybrid cloud, relates to growth. Unprecedented business activity in terms of acquisitions, partnerships, new products to market, more data, more employees and their increasing mobility, are creating huge pressures on existing IT environments and the people that run them.
2015 saw the value of mergers and acquisitions hit a record global high of £2.79 trillion and the upward trend is projected to continue as confidence improves across boardrooms worldwide. Just recently, UK betting firm William Hill has been approached by rival gambling companies 888 and Rank Group about a merger.
This means that many organisations that were once providing databases and applications to users in one – few locations, are now trying to serve up that same data to end users to hundreds of sites across the globe.
Collaborations and joint ventures
Many organisations are hedging their bets as they decide on their strategic direction, even truer in the uncertain context of a post-Brexit Britain. In 2016, Sainsbury’s announced the end of its joint venture with discount food retailer Netto, to focus its efforts on its acquisition of Argos. Competitive advantage and business survival will depend on partnerships being spun up and dissolved quickly; whilst ensuring minimal disruption and high availability for end users.
Of course, many firms are going it alone, buoyed by the growth opportunities of new markets, access to labour and the ability to sell almost anything, anywhere, via the internet. Santander’s 2015 business growth survey revealed the number of business owners looking to other countries for growth has doubled since 2013. Whilst international expansion means delivering services to other geographies, it also results in the creation of jobs in the UK economy. UK Employment rose by 44,000 in the three months to March 2016 to 31.58 million. This represents the highest level since records began in 1971 and was above economists’ expectations. This is another contributing factor to the trend of employees working remotely, as existing office space fills up. No wonder that HR firm, Robert Half, found that remote working has increased by more than a third in the last few years.
All over the place
Despite the many different drivers behind organisational growth, there is a common thread. The number of places from which end users need to work and access data and applications is increasing rapidly. To support this activity, it seems that it falls to IT to establish how to deliver the right level of performance in line with user and business requirements and budget constraints.
Far away places
The traditional model for achieving this outcome would have been running terminal services, serving application functionality to a desktop. However, there is a key challenge with this approach with latency that the internet introduces for data and applications that are thousands of miles away. Whilst these response times may be workable in some cases, this level of delay can make some applications unusable, especially as firms look to deliver more applications to mobile and tablet devices.
Right place, right time
These drivers are causing organisations to think further about where public cloud can help them and how to deliver key workloads. For example, I know some are asking themselves whether to take advantage of database as a service in the public cloud to support local applications.
At Daisy, we recommend looking at the situation slightly differently; rather than segmenting by workload we suggest segmenting by service. So, depending on need, a firm may decide to deliver a whole application, project or programme, along with its database and infrastructure, in the public cloud, or locally. If a business-critical application needs to be placed near the users, public cloud services like Azure, with its hyper-scaling capability, allow you to do just that. Previously, replicating a service around the globe would have been prohibitively expensive or very slow if delivered as a thin client. Public cloud offerings like Microsoft Azure allow for replication across many sites, and you only have to pay for the infrastructure that you use; you don’t need to acquire it, maintain it or replace it. There no longer needs to be the kind of trade-off between cost and performance, especially when you won’t have to bear the maintenance, licensing and upgrade costs of owned assets.
Feeling out of place?
Leading IT Analyst, Gartner, claim that the number of firms adopting a formal hybrid cloud strategy will increase from 17% in 2015 to 50% in 2017. Many technical questions relating to public cloud have been answered in the last few years in terms of security, disaster recovery and compatibility. Yet many questions still remain that relate to total cost of ownership – recognising both tangible and intangible benefits – as well as addressing necessary process change. Evaluating current and future business risks as well as ever-changing user profiles and needs, provide further complications.
It’s no wonder businesses don’t know where to start!
Find out more by visiting daisygroup.com
About the Author: Alex is Cloud Solutions Director at Daisy. Having previously worked for Phoenix IT Services and ICM, he has more than 15 years’ experience within the technology industry, with a focus on systems integration, outsourcing and consulting. His topics of interest include cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital transformation.