The data centre sector continues to be at the heart of the global post-pandemic recovery, as for many organisations, the ability to bounce back or accelerate growth lies in their technology and continued digital transformation.
In fact, digital transformation continues to be a mandatory strategic initiative for businesses and organisations across several sectors. This has many different drivers, such as the ability to provide a competitive edge, service quality, cost, compliance etc. Of course, for some it is about survival – but whatever the reason, the opportunities it opens up can be huge.
Achieving digital transformation usually involves very complex, multi-faceted projects, which can often be difficult to plan, let alone execute and manage. This is resulting in an increase in outsourcing where an SLA and some KPIs can reassure, and the problem is passed to someone else – potentially with some (or a lot) of pain along the way.
However, the nature of IT outsourcing is changing and IT directors are having to make difficult decisions to ensure that their company’s digitalisation plans can be delivered.
A solution in the cloud?
Over the past few years there has been a trend towards ‘migrating to the cloud’ and an increased uptake in cloud usage which has been further expedited by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Benefits promised from cost savings, increased flexibility and agility are a few valid reasons for its continued success.
However, we are seeing some organisations that have discovered too late that the ‘cloud’ isn’t necessarily the best solution for them, certainly not on its own, or their ability to get there is much harder than first thought. Worse still, they have found themselves tied into long-term, ‘inclusive’ agreements that cannot be fully utilised as intended or do not support all of their requirements.
Let’s make no mistake, the cloud has been, and continues to be, an absolute game changer and is often at the heart of digitalisation transformation plans that we help implement and support. But too often, the pace in which an organisation moves can be directly connected to its success, and it is fair to say those who don’t move quickly can often get left behind.
And speed is not the only issue. In our experience, organisations may have bespoke applications or utilise legacy platforms that cannot be supported by the cloud, in its current form, or they may require a disparate estate for regional or customer reasons.
In addition, the potential utilisation of the service given market trends and/or changes in technology may require technical or commercial mechanisms for flexibility within a cloud service. Customers may be unaware of this before they decide to engage with a cloud provider, as it can be a challenge for some organisations to establish their requirement in sufficient detail.
Often the first time organisations become aware of any issues is when things quite simply can’t be moved. By then the contract is signed and IT service owners are keeping multiple environments operating to maintain service, probably those same environments which were dependent on closing and reducing cost for savings to be realised.
A deeper look at IT requirements
This process is not helped by the fact that key information these service providers need to enable them to identify benefits or opportunities can be difficult to uncover without a certain level of detail. As a result, the proposal is often based on assumptions rather than fact but can often eventually assume the basis of a deal.
Companies can help to mitigate this risk by commissioning a full audit of their IT requirements – from applications, hardware and supporting infrastructure, including site visits and stakeholder interviews to – capture their requirements. During this process, dependencies and risks associated with the migration of a particular service can be established. This enables companies to define any enabling works which may need to take place or influence the sequence in which the migration is completed.
When deciding which elements of the IT are best suited to which service, there are other things to consider too. For example, some applications may be deemed business critical and therefore resilience is a key factor; for other less important applications, then more cost-effective options may be considered.
By undertaking this deep dive upfront, organisations can focus on anything which may impact a quotation from a supplier and ensure that the goals and objectives are clear and consistent. It is at this stage that decisions should be taken about services that may not be suitable for the cloud and where they are in their operational lifecycle, which may influence how these are managed. This may involve hosting these on-premise or even replacing the service. It is also worth considering migrating these either first or last to further mitigate the risk.
With significant cost at stake, it is details like these that don’t necessarily need a solution but do need to be built into the business case from the beginning.
The devil is in the detail and the level of that detail will dictate the success of any changes and enable organisations to make truly informed decisions.