Cloud computing delivers on outsourcing’s promise of cost savings

I try always to avoid answering an enterprise client’s question with “it depends” because it makes me sound like, well … a consultant. Companies searching for answers to their problems may want a range of possibilities, but they don’t want an imprecise answer.

The reality is, sometimes “it depends” is the best answer. Let’s take, for example, the cloud—the most tested and most proven of the new digital technologies. It used to be I could answer the question “How much will I save by outsourcing my data center?” with a very precise estimate subject to actually going about it the right way (which is my job).

But the cloud is still young enough that I can’t do that. I’ve seen some companies save more than 75 percent by moving aggressively to the cloud. And I’ve seen others save absolutely nothing. There are technical, procedural and human reasons for the variance, about which an entire book could probably be written. But by the time I do that, the technology would have changed. So, instead, I thought I would share some of the key issues that impact today’s cloud initiatives:

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1. Don’t build it, for they will not come. The most successful enterprise cloud initiatives look at their applications first, and then look for reasons why each one should not move to the cloud. Not only does this make sense, it avoids the waste of engineering a solution for functionality that, for good technical or regulatory reasons, might never make it to the cloud. This works well, say, for the applications and infrastructure that support a utility company’s nuclear business or a manufacturer’s classified defense programs. And it is why application-first approaches are far more successful.

2. Consider what you are replacing. If you replace your 20-year-old car with a brand new one, you will immediately notice the difference in efficiency, performance, technology, packaging and safety features.

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