Hosting: develop enterprise efficiency and agility
The strategic obligation of a CTO or CIO is to ensure that IT meets the needs of the business, matching the ever-changing corporate objectives.
IT has to be usable, so that everyone from salespeople to data analysts can work effectively, without technology becoming a hindrance. With this in mind, CTOs look for very specific advantages from their IT investments: increased productivity, reduced costs of doing business, and competitive advantage; all delivered with the minimum of increased overhead in the IT department.
The emphasis for IT managers in midsize and enterprise organisations is therefore changing to meet an ever-more diverse range of business needs equipping desktop machines towards delivering a stable and economical platform. Members of IT departments must no longer see themselves solely as technicians, but as providers of business services.
Thinking of IT as a service provision has led to the development of exciting new models to deliver business functions to employees. Thanks to near-universal Internet connectivity, one alternative to the traditional purchase of hardware and licensing of software is the hosted solution. By buying in IT from third-party suppliers, large organisations can outsource IT management functions in the same way as they might, for example, outsource a call centre enjoying the reduced costs that such economies of scale present.
Instead of buying software licenses and hardware, and then employing IT staff to manage the infrastructure, the entire management function is bundled up into one manageable third-party arrangement. "The downsides are few and far between, as a result of the increases inInternet bandwidth. The capacity for business broadband is just enormous. Bandwidth is not a question; it's there now", says Mike Williams, Head of Application Strategy at hosting providers 7Global.
Analysts IDC predict a 32% annual growth in Online delivery of business applications (known as "Software as a Service") between now and 2011, and Microsoft is at the forefront. Infosys Consulting report that $2.4bn of Microsoft software will be delivered via hosted solutions in the next three years.
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