Q&A: Why go via telecoms to the cloud?

With so many options on the table for cloud computing, do telecoms firms provide the best overall package?

I don't believe there will be a problem of market saturation any time soon, but there is an inherent issue with the terminology that causes confusion.

There are various forms of cloud computing, from SaaS (Software as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) to CaaS (Communication as a Service) and many other iterations of XaaS,' and the market for each of them, in their own rights, are huge.

Just look at how voicemail was delivered, it used to be a physical tape in a machine until we pulled it into the network, essentially providing it as what is now termed a cloud' service.

The Ovum survey showed a 60 per cent increase in the take up of cloud services among multinational corporations for some aspects of IT. However, organisations are not fully realising the advantages at any scale yet but are rather experimenting. If security is the first factor prohibiting mass adoption, migration is the second.

Organisations need a strategic path to facilitate a low-risk adoption of cloud services starting with a full audit of their applications, addressing their availability needs, and a chance for experimentation and testing of non-critical applications to gain confidence before migrating their mission-critical applications and infrastructure.

One of the most significant benefits of the hybrid approach is that it allows businesses to make the gradual transition to cloud computing in a way that suits them.

The other consideration with enterprise IT estates is the complexity of the system integrations. In order to deliver a high quality and dynamic customer service IT systems have become closely integrated, making the extraction of part of that environment to a cloud service very hard, especially if that service is separated by an uncontrolled internet link.

The ability to integrate a cloud service within a high performing and secure network, and to combine this with traditional hosting services, opens up a much larger market to cloud computing services.

How easy is it to sort out the wheat from the chaff when picking a provider?

It is important for organisations to focus on the business benefit they want to achieve from cloud computing and ensure that the solutions are aligned with the needs of the organisation. It is very easy to get lost in the possibilities of the technology with the multitude of cloud services available, and to loose focus of the key aim.

Organisations also need to be taking control of their cloud services, especially SaaS applications. KPMG's audit Committee Institute recently asserted that internal audit teams need to be asking questions about who has overall control of any cloud adoption strategy and the individual actions of business units.

Purchasing applications as a service could open the way for IT departments to be bypassed as individual business units decide on what they want. If an adoption process is not co-ordinated carefully, massive duplication and confusion could ensue. There must be a clear single strategy that is controlled centrally with regular audit checks to make sure it stays that way.

In addition, with a hybrid model, organisations need a well-structured programme to move to the cloud while keeping the lights on. Many vendors today are offering a cloud platform but no consultancy to support the businesses along the journey.

Customers need to identify what they're getting into before committing to the process and as such vendors need to be working with enterprises to refine the cloud adoption roadmap.

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