Not all clouds are created equal…

Decision makers are looking at the total value proposition on offer when they’re considering a move to the cloud…

CIOs are under increasing pressure to do more with less, with budgets going down, not up. It's not just about keeping the lights on' anymore. It's also about driving greater business value often without the assumed or even necessary increase in budget and other resources. As such, decision makers throughout the decision-making chain of command - have to ensure they're getting maximum value out of any vendor engagement or partnership.

Such a conundrum applies as equally to the cloud as it does to any traditional IT set-up. However, the value that can be derived from cloud computing offers so much more to the business world than what has been seen before

Quantifying value

How value is measured at an enterprise level, regardless of geographic location or business sector, has changed in recent years.

In the early days of cloud, akin to how traditional IT purchases were made, the focus was on up-front overheads and an expensive refresh and upgrade cycle ensured. It all centred on capital expenditure (CapEx). Today, that focus has changed and a much more holistic view is and needs to be - taken by decision makers.

Yes, price is important - budgetary constraints still exist - but it is far from the only metric. In fact, the concept of value to those charged with driving business success through technology needs to analyse and assess a range of factors, including but not limited to longevity of the vendor and partnership, data sovereignty, ROI/TCO, security, SLAs and more.

In an April 2015 survey of 2,000 enterprises, conducted by analyst firm 451 Research, IBM came out top as the cloud company businesses were most likely to partner with. Some 18 per cent of respondents plumped for IBM, trailed by 16 per cent who voted for Microsoft, followed some way behind the six per cent who said Amazon would be their cloud partner of choice.

The results are not that surprising when you consider the facts. IBM has invested heavily in the cloud, with $7 billon spent on 15 acquisitions in this space since 2007. What's more, the company pledged to invest $1.2 billion in January 2014 solely to extend its global cloud footprint. Its mission is clear: to innovate and take advantage of what the cloud has to offer so that, in turn, business can do the same for their customers.

"IBM is continuing to invest in high growth areas," Erich Clementi, senior vice president of IBM Global Technology Services, said at the time of the announcement.  

"Last year, IBM made a big investment adding the $2 billion acquisition of SoftLayer to its existing high value cloud portfolio. Today's announcement is another major step in driving a global expansion of IBM's cloud footprint and helping clients drive transformation."  

Building on a solid foundation

The company's ability to deliver on the promise of cloud is buoyed by a 100-year-plus rich history of anticipating and proactively responding to changing market dynamics - from ATMs, barcodes and the floppy disk, to cloud, security, social, mobile and more.

A strong network of partners and hundreds of thousands of employees around the world come together as one to offer a wide range of services, solutions and expertise on-premise and in the cloud that can accommodate a variety of industry specific and organisationally unique demands.

That said, it's all well and good selecting a partner based upon on-paper criteria, however real-world experience and validation is what really matters. And there is no shortage of happy IBM customers willing to provide insight into the secrets of their cloud success.

It's not just surveys that measure the value of cloud computing on the strength of the partnership. There are numerous customer case studies where the results not just speak for themselves but shout the value on offer from the rooftops. Indeed, since between November and December 2014, IBM announced $4 billion worth of cloud agreements with customers around the world. 

"IBM recognises that businesses and governments need the cloud to help them innovate, grow and operate more efficiently in concert with their existing IT investments," said Jim Comfort, General Manager, IBM Cloud Services.  

"Everything IBM does is designed to help companies transition to the cloud in a responsible way at a pace that best fits their business model and industry.   Just as we helped major organizations transform in each preceding era of IT, IBM now serves as the cloud platform for the enterprise."

Coca Cola is a prime example. As an international corporation, the company needs to ensure value is optimised at all levels, in all geographies.

Specifically, Coca Cola Amatil (CCA) recently confirmed plans to utilise IBM's Australian SoftLayer datacentres to ensure its environment remained agile enough to respond to customer demand, whilst still delivering required savings.

"As we continue our transition to cloud we are backed by IBM, a partner we work with and trust. Our business requires the highest levels of Customer Service 24/7. We must have our products on shelves at any hour of the day or night that our consumers wish to purchase them. We have large transaction volumes which vary significantly depending on factors like location, day, season and what's on," says Barry Simpson, group CIO at Coca-Cola Amatil.

"The move to SoftLayer provides us with a game changing level of flexibility, resiliency and reliability essential to service our customer needs. This consumption based model also removes the need for large expenditure on IT infrastructure."

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