The UK Chancellor’s budget speech at the end of March gave us the usual good and bad news: More jobs are going to be created, but growth in Europe is likely to be slower than we would like; red tape for business is being reduced, but the growth forecast for 2013 has been revised down. And let’s not mention the granny tax.
It’s a classic case of a stop-start economy. An economy in which businesses are learning to adapt to sudden changes in demand.
That requires businesses to have more of the A-word: Agility.
From an ICT perspective this leads many of us into the welcoming arms of cloud computing vendors. With low infrastructure costs, flexible payment, and easier get-out clauses, what’s not to like?
The easy wins are most evident for autonomous branch offices or small businesses. Application areas cover email, customer relationship management, collaboration tools and all manner of back office services. Pay-as-you-go pricing or low monthly subscriptions have ensured that costs are easy to manage and predict. Add to that the constant re-versioning of the software by the supplier, and it soon starts to tick the right boxes.
But what about medium to large enterprises? Can they also afford to float off into the cloud without a care in the world?
It’s tempting to quietly bolt on new services, but whole new applications must be carefully planned in the manner of any other IT implementation. How well will it scale; how well will it integrate with other services? To what extent is in-house development required? The usual range of IT development functions need to come into play, despite the plug-and-play reputation that such services have gained.
Once again the well-known offerings are worth considering, but stitching them into a bigger implementation is a key concern. Meanwhile the hundreds of smaller offerings may seem to offer more niche solutions, but will they ultimately be a Cul-de-Sac? Are they offered by companies that are too small to respond to the scale you need?
On paper the benefits of cloud computing far outweigh the risks: they allow a more agile form of working and can be implemented relatively quickly compared to more traditional solutions. But it is perhaps a good time to develop a measured approach to this area. The promise of cloud computing is there but the ability to execute may need a high level of ‘due diligence’ to ensure a fully scaleable solution.
It’s not a matter of wait and see, more a case of ‘be prepared’. A comprehensive approach to cloud computing is a radical new step for any organisation. Taking a systematic approach to getting the mix that best fits your organisation is the best way forward if you want to evolve a long-term cloud strategy.