The coming rise of cloud services models—Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)—in recent years has been well documented. As an example, Statista, an online market research and statistics company, recently predicted that spending on public cloud IaaS would grow from $38 billion in 2016 to $173B in 2026. Gartner, meanwhile, projects 37 percent SaaS growth from 2016 to 2020.
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Now, as cloud services continue to mature, organizations can leverage as-a-Service models for any individual piece of the technology stack (collaboration, contact center, data center, network) in any line of business as part of an IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) framework. This includes offerings like: unified communications & collaboration as-a-Service, business process automation as-a-Service, hybrid security as-a-Service, backup/restore and DR/restoration as-a-Service. In this piece, we explore some of the primary factors driving this move toward as-a-Service, as well as certain advantages and challenges.
Primary Factors Driving Adoption of ITaaS
Many businesses looking to increase business agility and continuity are turning toward as-a-Service. Some of the primary reasons for making the move include everything from improved business agility and continuity, to technology obsolescence and financial flexibility. Other reasons include:
- Enhanced security through identity management, mobile device management, data sovereignty compliance, malware identification, zero day threat analysis, and disaster recovery options, among other capabilities.
- Infrastructure flexibility through increased bandwidth consumption, better quality of service, SLA performance, HA/DR, network topology and private/public/hybrid design options.
- Better consumption planning by taking advantage of advisory services and increasing user adoption via change management and managed services across premise, hybrid and cloud deployment models.
Advantages of ITaaS
In any part of the IT stack, the cloud offers some distinct advantages when deployed strategically. Most cloud models offer a “pay as you go” model that allows you to access capacity on-demand. The benefits here are two-fold: first, you are not forced to pay for capacity you don’t use; second, you can scale quickly when extra capacity is needed (think extra seats for a contact center or more compute resources during busy season) without making hardware purchases. Other advantages of the as-a-service model include:
- The latest and greatest features: Many SaaS products, such as Office 365, push out feature updates automatically, meaning your users always have access to the most recent versions. In addition to helping users be more productive, IT personnel are freed from completing these updates themselves and can focus on growth initiatives.
- Lower TCO for technology solutions: On-premises hardware typically requires a large upfront cash outlay and constant maintenance. Procuring on-premises technology may result in IT budget restraints and also requires IT staff to spend time on upkeep, rather than innovation.
- Greater reliability: Today, in theory, uptime for technology infrastructure should be table stakes—but the truth is that outages are still far too common. Cloud infrastructure vendors offer greater reliability than most organizations can achieve internally, as the vendors provide redundancy and physical beyond security beyond what all but the largest enterprises can match.
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So with all of these benefits, why isn’t everyone rushing to the cloud? Put simply, migrating only offers these advantages when it is done strategically and with great care. Organizations that are hasty or do not have the necessary internal expertise risk running into problems like:
- Doing too much at once: Trying to move all of IT to the cloud in one shot is often a misstep. Rather, organizations can move just a few workloads or functions at a time to limit disruption. Phased deployments and hybrid architectures offer a stepping stone to full-scale migrations; therefore, understanding what to migrate—and in what timeframe and order—is critical to success.
- Not sizing correctly: Right-sizing services is crucial to ensuring that organizations reap the cost savings that the cloud advertises. By taking a holistic view of their environments—or leveraging a partner with cloud expertise—organizations can save by reducing software licensing costs, making capacity decisions based on historical data and implementing governance policies.
- Choosing the wrong vendor: With so many players offering cloud solutions across the technology stack, vendor selection can be extremely difficult. Every vendor touts their solution as superior, but cutting through the noise to understand which vendor is right for your specific needs is tricky. In the decision-making process, it can be helpful to have get an outside perspective from an expert with perspective and no predisposition towards any single provider.
What’s clear about ITaaS is that it offers tremendous benefits—if leveraged correctly. So if you are considering a cloud migration, or have already started one, make sure you have the in-house personnel—or a trusted partner—to ensure success.