There is a growing trend to outsource the IT infrastructure requirements of a business to the Cloud or to a datacentre environment. In our experience, this transition is normally prompted by one of the following events:
- Business growth or acquisition. This prompts the business to review their IT infrastructure requirements. Outsourcing, typically with a level of opex is a consideration rather than a capex investment in a new solution. Both cloud and datacentre providers will have some form of managed service offering culminating in an opex service model.
- Outdated infrastructure. An organisation may have historically invested in their IT setup but since then there has been little in the way of incremental upgrades or investment. This has meant the business is facing a significant capital expenditure; making the prospect of an opex scheme more attractive. The datacentre or cloud provider will typically have modern, scalable and redundant infrastructure components.
- Staff resource. With so many applications, business systems, day-to-day end user support; the IT team may be swamped in their own jobs to worry about the IT infrastructure. In these scenarios a business may choose to outsource the infrastructure (IaaS) and platform components (PaaS) to a datacentre or cloud provider, enabling their IT team to focus on application or user support.
- An IT Event. Essentially something has gone pear shaped. A core system failure, a storage outage or a network issue – they can all prompt management to review their IT systems. Despite IT lobbying the business for some time, it often takes an event like this to prompt people into action. Often the cloud or datacentre will cover off or resolve many of the issues that triggered this event.
- Regulatory Pressures. This could be new industry regulations or a scenario where there is greater scrutiny being applied; forcing businesses to take stock and ensure compliance. This could be DR (Disaster Recovery) or BCP (Business Continuity), information security or documentation. Datacentres and cloud platforms are often a fast-track to compliance in many areas, particularly DR, PCI-DSS and others where security and availability are considered paramount. Outsourcing is however not without its pitfalls and in the quest of compliance, you may inadvertently fall foul.
- New Outlook. A new CTO/IT-Director will often take a fresh perspective when it comes to an organisations IT setup. Often with the support of the board, this can lead to a raft of changes within a business.
These are just some examples of catalysts for change.
Things to consider
There are some key items to consider before transitioning to the cloud, datacentre or if you are considering certain elements of your IT environment:
- Connectivity. High speed, secure and reliable network connectivity to your IT environment is vital. So often do we see businesses adopt VDI, off-site DR or remote-working but they have simply overlooked the need for connectivity. The initial forecasted savings can be wiped out immediately when it becomes apparent a fibre or leased-line is required. If your business is shifting its core IT operations to a datacentre or cloud, then good, solid connectivity is a given.
- Regulation. Many industries are subject to regulatory oversight. Depending on the industry and the regulatory body, often they will set down requirements or guidelines that govern how your IT and outsourcing operations. Financial services, banking and healthcare are particular industries where outsourcing can be a challenge. The UK’s FCA, Isle of Man FSC, PCI-DSS and HIPAA all have specific requirements or guidelines around outsourcing (Cloud) and security (shared infrastructure). This is perhaps one of the reasons Private Cloud is a core offering of many datacentres as it circumnavigates many of the grey areas. In many cases public or shared IaaS is an option, but you have to demonstrate you have considered (and documented) the risks, be able to prove your outsourcer is compliant and be comfortable you comply. For this reason, many businesses err on the side of caution.
- Paper office. If your business is a paper handling organisation, for example printing and scanning documents – you need to evaluate whether moving your back office into the datacentre will cause other issues within your organisation. Document management, imaging, faxes and retrieval can often be an after-thought once a business has moved to the cloud. Unfortunately, this afterthought is often a vital part of the business, leading to a loss in operational effectiveness and similar technical issues.
- SLA. The SLA is often not worth the paper it is written on. If 99.999% is promised, ask how those metrics are calculated and how the provider plans to meet them. Ask for historic measurements. Ensure the service credits and liabilities align themselves to the losses your business would face. If your business demands 99.999% (five nines) then be prepared to pay the price for that level of uptime, it is simply not fair (or even possible) to provider five-nines on a shoe string.
These are just some of the issues to consider when your organisation is considering a move to a hosted, cloud or outsourced environment. The team at MTG have over a decade of experience transitioning businesses to (and from!) hosted or cloud environments. MTG’s range of network, IT and security solutions are used by organisations with their IT infrastructure on-premise or hosted in an outsourced environment. The MTG board have held previous positions at datacentre, cloud and telecoms providers – so we have a thorough understanding of the business models, pitfalls and constraints of the hosted model.
If your business is considering a change in strategy or an infrastructure upgrade, speak to the experts.