Cloud matters – but what you do with it matters more

Honest assessment of needs, hybrid implementation, and innovative deployment key to maximising ROI, says Claranet

Analyst firm Forrester claims in a recent report into business agility that “cloud really doesn’t matter” when it comes to increasing revenues, and that there is no clear dividing line between high- and low-performing organisations in terms of knowledge and use of cloud technologies. This is not surprising, says Claranet’s UK Managing Director Michel Robert: rather than boosting performance directly, the true ROI of cloud services lies in their power to enable new applications and ways of working.

The report reveals that “Infrastructure Elasticity”, Forrester’s measure of agility afforded by cloud computing, accounted for almost no difference in enterprise performance. Robert believes that organisations need to understand what workloads they are moving to the cloud and why, as well as what benefits to expect from doing so:

Jumping headlong into a wholesale migration of IT infrastructure simply because the cloud is the ‘next big thing’ is not likely to get an organisation very far. For example, Claranet’s own research shows that while 87 per cent of organisations cite increasing flexibility and scalability as a key objective for migrating to cloud, a large majority (75 per cent) indicate that their actual requirement for scalability is ‘average to entirely predictable’. This disparity suggests that many organisations are investing in the cloud without properly understanding their requirements and the level of investment needed for their needs. After all, if they are not experiencing frequent or extreme variance in demand, they may be wasting time and money chasing the scalability that cloud computing offers,” he said.

“In cloud computing, there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. It is important for organisations to honestly assess their needs at the outset, make improvements to their IT systems gradually, and mix on-premises infrastructure with migrating elements to the cloud in a hybrid approach that reflects their changing priorities and needs. It is a case of ‘evolution, not revolution’,” Robert continued.

Despite the potential cost-savings inherent in moving to the cloud, Robert believes that its true value lies not in the infrastructure itself but in how organisations use the cloud to improve the development and use of applications: “Increasingly, it is the ability of a cloud provider to both host applications and manage their development that enables innovation within organisations,” he said.

“Claranet’s latest research found that many organisations are capitalising on their cloud adoption to launch ‘cloud-native’ applications that they would not otherwise have been able to run. This is especially the case with communications services, where unified communications deployments are 58 per cent cloud-native, VoIP services 59 per cent, and video conferencing facilities 66 per cent,” Robert continued.

Choosing the right provider is key to unlocking the full potential of the cloud, Robert said: “Organisations must look for a cloud service provider that will take a consultative approach to recommending an appropriate service based on a full understanding of an organisation’s requirements, rather than simply delivering ‘cloud for cloud’s sake’,” he concluded.

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