Digital transformation? Not without a cloud strategy. Factors to consider.

 

By Roland Jung | 03.04.2017

 

Sooner or later, every company will be bitten by the digitalisation bug and when it is, it’s crucial to play an active role in its shaping and follow a clear cloud strategy. These five factors need to be part of that strategy for a successful digital transformation: the time to move, cloud model, organisational structure, cloud solution and the provider.

From Industry 4.0 to the Internet of Things and Big Data: Digitalisation is, without a doubt, having a greater influence on how we live and do business. Entire industries are changing at breath-taking speeds and causing big headaches for businesses. If you want to stay competitive in a saturated market, you have to stay ahead of the curve and actively shape the digital transformation in your business.

Focus on enterprise IT.

The digital transformation is having a particular impact on IT departments: new processes, the interaction between man and machine and the use of mobile devices demands innovative services that can be tweaked to meet changing business requirements at any time. Suddenly, IT admins are expected to be modern and flexible innovators.
 

Many IT departments, but particularly those in SMEs, cannot keep up with the additional demands placed on them by the digitalisation trend as the department is too small and resources too limited. However, it’s essential to succeed, and so it is worth for SMEs to turn to an IT service provider that knows all about the subject of digitalisations and can professionally implement cloud strategies.

At the heart of digitalisation: the cloud.

Digital transformation in enterprises demands flexible and dynamic IT and cloud computing provides the ideal foundation. Cloud solutions offer many benefits compared to traditional IT landscapes such as costs that can be exactly budgeted to the nearest Frank and flexible use. With comprehensive cloud services such as Bechtle’s  360° desktop, SMEs can once again focus on their core business and align their IT to developing business-relevant processes

 

In order to generate real added value for enterprises, it is essential to develop a cloud strategy. Here are the five most important points to consider:

 

1. The right moment to move to the cloud.

In order to figure out when the best time to implement the cloud strategy is, it’s important to consider both internal and external factors. Internal questions: Is your company ready to make the leap? When is the best time? Is there a period that’s more suitable than another? External questions: What is the situation in the industry? What trends can we expect? How will the market develop?
 

Find out how fast the cloud infrastructure can be implemented and when the perfect times for planning, migration and start-up are. Although the cloud affects the entire company, as already mentioned, it’s the IT admins that have to handle it—supporting and enabling the changes, and making sure the necessary resources are available. The following need to be considered: What business targets need to be achieved? Which business processes will be affected? Which opportunities/threats does digitalisation offer the company?

 

2. The perfect cloud model.

Due to deployment, cloud services can be roughly split into three versions:

 

Public cloud: flexible and affordable

The public cloud is a service that is made available over the internet for everyone by a provider. This sees a wide variety of customers, who can select classic IT services such as application programs, computing power or storage space as required, sharing a virtualised infrastructure. The benefits are obvious: Companies don’t need to worry about procuring hardware and software and also don’t need to worry about IT management.
 

Procuring IT services from a public cloud enables businesses to work flexibly as services can be extended or reduced as required, and they can also benefit greatly from scalability. The provider hosts and processes all customers’ services on the same standardised infrastructure leading to improved workloads and users sharing the same resources. The provider can make the infrastructure and applications available at a very affordable price thanks to this scaling effect.
 

When developing a suitable cloud strategy, it’s important to know that the user has no influence on where or how the data are stored or on security aspects and compliance with rules and regulations.

 

Private cloud: personal and secure.

From a technical point of view, there is no difference between public and private clouds. Obviously, the private cloud is not open for public use which means that cloud management happens within the company. Access is generally via the internet or a private network connection and is limited to employees and authorised business partners. The provider manages the customers’ servers in highly-secure data centres thus better protecting sensitive company data and business applications  from unauthorised access.

Generally speaking, private clouds give users and the provider more control and are more reliable. However, the higher security standards and exclusivity mean that the provider has a higher workload, which has an effect on the price.

 

Hybrid cloud: attractive and versatile

An interesting and sought-after alternative that absolutely needs to be considered is the hybrid cloud which is growing more popularity on the market and combines the public and private cloud with traditional IT environments.

The company first decides which software and data should be stored in the public and private clouds Meaning that unproblematic services are later run and processed via a public service provider’s internet while critical applications and data remain with the company.


The hybrid cloud model can be as cost-effective as the public cloud, but as personal and secure and the private cloud for the end customer.

 

3. Cloud management.

If the cloud model has been defined in the strategy, it has to then be decided how it should be managed. The model used defines the number of new areas of responsibility that need to be managed. This could mean that the company’s internal IT need to brush up on their knowledge of cloud management. Having said that, experience shows that there is no need for IT specialists in the company if the cloud provider offers comprehensive services and support.
 

Many companies then use the resources that have been freed up much better, for example, by investing the time and IT staff gained in the further development if the business and not for time-intensive maintenance of the in-house IT infrastructure.
 

Ask yourself these questions: Should IT expertise be linked to the company or should IT be completely handed over to a service provider? Is there development potential for the freed-up resources? Which business-relevant IT tasks should be tackled?

 

4. The optimum cloud solution.

The cloud solution defines the level at which a service is procured. Should only the infrastructure, single pieces of software or the entire IT including all devices be procured as a service? The optimum solution of course depends on a company’s requirements. There are three different versions: Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service and Desktop as a Service. There is however the option to procure single services.

 

5. The professional cloud partner.

An extensive market has developed around cloud-based infrastructure, software and services. However, when developing a cloud strategy, it should be considered that not all cloud providers are suitable for each company as there are differences in offers and levels of service. On the one hand, there are complete cloud solutions from global providers such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google etc. that offer a quick introduction and standardised solutions. On the other hand, there are cloud providers such as Bechtle that offer customised solutions from a Swiss data centre.
 

Which end of the spectrum and which partner is the right one? The strategy provides the answer to these questions, which is why it’s important that you actively pursue a strategy and work with a cloud partner that can implement it.

Roland Jung

The author and cloud expert.

Roland Jung is head of cloud sales with 25 years of experience in the IT industry, specialising in cloud computing, data centres and IT outsourcing cloud solutions. He is a passionate sailor and “BBQ master extraordinaire” and is always up for a good time – whether at home or work.

 

Roland Jung

Cloud Solutions Sales Manager