Although cloud computing has become a household name in the past few years, the technology - not to mention the ways in which it is used - has not stopped progressing and transforming in the slightest, but rather rages on. With competition heating up among vendors and developers, buyers are the real winners in the market today, as newer iterations of solutions have been more affordable and dynamic than those of the past.
What's more, the key to winning out in the cloud services market has appeared to be personalization, with some of the largest providers of technologies focusing on enhancing the flexibility of their product models. This has ushered in a new era of specialization among vendors, and effectively ensures that business leaders have enough options to select only the cloud services that most closely align with core missions and objectives in the IT department and elsewhere.
While price wars heat up and cloud services vendors vie for the top spot in the market, companies are also embracing trends that demand elastic computing and infrastructure such as the Internet of Things and big data. In short, businesses in virtually every industry must find ways to adapt to modern digital trends or fall by the wayside in their respective markets, and the cloud presents an option to lay down a highly preferable foundation that other modern strategies can be built atop.
If you would like a quick explanation of how the cloud has led to vast transformations in corporate computing and IT at large, check out this quick animated video from analyst Stephen Fry on the topic:
So, while the Internet is littered with plenty of studies, analysis and opinion pieces on the cloud, we felt it necessary to fan the flames a bit here and make sure you know where the market stands and what it means for your business. This technology is indeed living up to expectations regarding penetration rates, adoption and effective use, and one can only assume that it will be a utility - rather than novel trend in IT - within the next decade or so.
When the cloud first began to rise to prominence, it was painfully clear that few decision-makers in the private and public sectors truly understood what the technology involved, or what it could be used to accomplish. Fears regarding security were largely a symptom of this ignorance, as it is now relatively well-known that these services can be just as secure as any other approach to IT, including legacy computing models.
Taking that a step further, leaders were struggling to really get a handle on measuring returns on investments into cloud computing, which made it difficult to make a case for adoption in the C suite. Forbes contributor Joe McKendrick recently posted a blog that explained the importance of managing expectations for cloud computing investments, affirming that there is still more work to be done in this regard.
According to the author, the clearest path toward more reasonable and achievable expectations is contained within the communication that takes place between the cloud vendor and purchaser from the outset of the professional relationship. For example, the formulation of a service level agreement will tend to define these interactions over the lifecycle of the technological deployment, and must be handled with care and honesty.
McKendrick argued that SLAs are critical to the proper management of these services, and that there are indeed reports and guidelines available from several entities regarding relevant best practices, including those offered by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology. However, business leaders will need to be especially aggressive and thorough in their examination of managed service providers, as an SLA will not always be upheld.
With a trusted provider of the technology, companies will be more likely to see their SLAs upheld and benefit accordingly. The author went on to note that cloud services are highly diverse today, and are in no way all created equal, but rather robust when looking at different service providers, developers and vendors involved in the industry. This makes it abundantly clear that decision-makers need to go through provisioning processes with a fine-toothed comb at all times.
Impacting the business
CloudTech recently asserted that IT departments need to become a bit more speedy in their deployment and delivery of advanced services, including cloud services and big data. This has been somewhat of a common argument in the past few years, as the rapid nature of modern technology trends has kept IT departments on their toes and in a relatively poor position to create and sustain stability.
"The cloud can speed up deployments."
When technology departments do not have the resources necessary to get new technological deployments off the ground in a timely fashion, the chances of rogue IT and other issues will inherently become a bit higher. According to the news provider, this is part of a bigger trend in business competition that is shaped by the agility and speed of each entity in a given marketplace, with those that most effectively achieve these characteristics winning out.
Now, the cloud can certainly be used to speed up IT deployments and other relevant processes while simultaneously enhancing the flexibility of operational procedures, budget allocations and the like, but only when the services are being handled properly. Should leaders phone in the decision-making process for certain products and solutions, they will almost assuredly suffer when diving into the returns on investments the deployments yielded.
At the end of the day, the bigger discussion here is the relationship between IT and other departments throughout the business, as so many issues have manifested in this particular area. Leaders, notably small-business owners, must ensure that their departments are on the same page at all times, and that IT has everything it needs to meet the service management and delivery expectations of every other department in the organization.
This particular transformation can truly help to rise ROI for cloud services deployments.