Every business can derive significant benefit from the cloud. Why, then, do so many businesses fail to do so – even with the help of Software as a Service (SaaS)? Aptronics’ Business Development Manager Ian Russell sat down with David Funnell, Cloud Provider Programme Manager at VMware, along with technical members of the VMware team, to find out why some just can’t let go of their scepticism.
Nobody is taking responsibility for making cloud adoption work
It’s a common misconception that the IT department is supposed to assume sole responsibility for the decision to adopt new technology. However, companies that display a mature approach to the cloud all seem to have one thing in common – they don’t leave cloud decisions entirely up to IT.
Funnell explains: “While it seems logical to have the CIO leading cloud initiatives, it is up to the entire executive to identify and drive the adoption of solutions that can benefit the whole company. The ability to pick and choose services for specific workloads is one of the cloud’s greatest advantages, but the shift that has to take place for adoption to be successful needs to be company-wide.”
IT professionals need to be able to accept their place as enablers of cloud adoption, without having the burden of strategic decision-making placed entirely on their shoulders. They need to take their place in the boardroom to develop cloud strategies that are perfectly aligned with the business’s long-term goals.
Businesses don’t like the idea of handing over control
When an issue arises, the IT department is inevitably the one to take the blame – so it’s no surprise that they are nervous about handing over responsibility for delicate infrastructure to a cloud provider they don’t even know. But according to Russell, cloud computing models can actually lead to far greater control if implemented correctly. The key is in knowing the difference between ‘having control’ and doing the donkey-work.
“It’s critical to choose your SaaS providers carefully – this is the first step of really taking control of the cloud, rather than being threatened by it. Take into consideration what is most important for your business and ensure that the SLA you sign delivers the level of control that you are comfortable with.”
Perhaps the answer lies in dipping your toes into the cloud before diving in head-first – and that’s exactly what many companies are doing. According to CompTIA’s 2016 ‘Trends in Cloud Computing’ report, there are four distinct phases of adoption on the road to full transformation: experimental use (encompassing 21% of 2016’s respondents), non-critical use (38%), full production (33%), and fully transformed (8%). If these figures prove anything, it’s that cloud adoption is a marathon, and not a sprint.
The costs look too good to be true
Yes, SaaS is about cutting costs – but it’s also about so much more than that. The benefits of a properly implemented cloud strategy can be so far reaching and impactful that costs simply don’t matter as much. The real issue here is not that billing is unclear or inconsistent – it’s that most businesses don’t factor in the other costs associated with a thorough adoption, from training to culture-shift. According to Funnell, cloud migration is anything but a quick fix, often taking up to 18 months before real value is delivered. He is also quick to point out that cost-cutting may not necessarily be the advantage that a business is after most.
“Being cheaper doesn’t need to be the main advantage. People often forget that when an organisation buys SaaS, they are not buying software; they’re buying the advantages that it provides. These include greater agility, collaboration and scalability of IT operations – and these advantages are difficult to quantify, with practically unlimited potential for saving a business money in the long run, even if the SaaS service doesn’t seem to be cutting costs right away.”
The bottom line
In business, as in life, fear can be an extremely helpful emotion. But when it comes to technology, time is of the essence, and beating your competitors to the punch can be your biggest advantage. What these seasoned professionals all agree upon is this: the fear of cloud is largely unfounded, and can be allayed through better collaborative strategies, a better understanding at the executive level of what it can offer any business, and how best to direct efforts toward those ends. SaaS is not a solution in itself – it is a newer and better way of delivering business solutions quickly, cheaply, and on-demand.