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Whitepaper How to keep your IT agile through cloud services


Is your IT able to keep up with the constant pace and demands in enabling organisational agility? Businesses in the post-recession economy know they will have to react more quickly to change than ever before. Agility will be a key factor in building IT as we see rapidly changing organisational structures. The cloud is a key enabler of this agility. This report examines how organisations can reinvent themselves through cloud services to be better prepared for the new economic realities.
Cloud computing represents a shift in IT thinking similar to the just-in-time philosophy that revolutionised manufacturing. The cloud allows you to stop tying up capital expenses in IT systems that are under-used. You can get the IT service you need, when you need it, and only for as long as you need it. You can pay for cloud computing services out of operational expenses, and pay for what you use when you use it. This is truly agile from a technology investment perspective. The promise of cloud computing is to deliver on-demand IT capacity reliably. Services delivered from the cloud can be accessed from remote offices, from the road using mobile devices, or just about anywhere theres a good internet connection. Accessibility and flexibility The scalability of cloud infrastructure translates into the ability for service providers to shift resources and route around problems easily. Put this accessibility and flexibility of cloudbased services together, and you have a highly resilient model for business continuity planning and disaster recovery. Organisations are also discovering that the scalability and accessibility of cloud-based services creates opportunities for collaboration, not just between colleagues but also opening up applications, information, and processes to partners, suppliers, and customers. Because its fast, easy and cost-effective to provide, with cloud computing resources you can also explore new ideas more readily. Cloud computing is ideal for software testing and development needs, as you can call on as much capacity as you need while in development. Then, when the project ends, you can release its resources or migrate to a production environment and easily scale up. The major benefit that is typically associated with cloud computing is cost. Studies show the cloud can offer significant cost benefits when compared with on-premise alternatives. A Frost & Sullivan study shows that for many organisations, IT costs can be halved when cloud computing alternatives are selected. But the cloud offers additional benefits, not least in terms of its ability to make businesses more agile. Andrew Milroy, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, says, In a cloud computing environment, organisations can increase and decrease the number of users of computing resources instantly. They can provision new resources and stop using them when required. This provisioning is typically automated, further increasing business agility. In this type of environment, says Milroy, focus is shifted away from IT and towards business services. IT becomes less of a cumbersome weight around parts of the business and more of a business enabler, he says. Organisations can, for instance, decide they want a service for leave management or sales management and simply provision it instantly rather than having to deal with implementation and the complexities around it. Milroy says cloud computing can enable managers to arm their employees with tools to undertake their jobs in a much more straightforward manner than before. The resources

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used can be increased and decreased instantly in line with business requirements. In a cloud-centred environment, IT will become commoditised, he says. Gartner analyst Mark McDonald says business technologies are transitioning from heavy owner-operated solutions to lighter-weight services and social media technologies like virtualisation, cloud computing and Web 2.0 social computing. He says these strategic technologies are of increasing importance to the CIO. Exploiting them provides the cost, capacity and capability gains needed to define, source, create and deploy information- and process-intensive solutions that will reshape IT and its future role. These technologies can be implemented quickly and without significant upfront expense. Instead of investing millions to get millions in benefits, with these technologies, up-front investments are measured in thousands of dollars to get those same benefits, says Gartner. McDonald says, These technologies, implemented properly, create the opportunity for IT to change its role and the operational performance of the enterprise. Asymmetric technologies like virtualisation, cloud and Web 2.0 enable companies to get out from under a front-loaded heavy investment model that limits ITs agility and flexibility. Gartner says worldwide cloud services revenue is expected to reach $68.3bn this year, a 16.6% increase from 2009 revenue of $58.6bn. By 2014, says the analyst, cloud services revenue is projected to reach $148.8bn. Gartner analyst Ben Pring says, The scale of application deployments is growing. Multithousand-seat deals are increasingly common and IT managers are thinking strategically about cloud service deployments. More-progressive enterprises are thinking through what their IT operations will look like in a world of increasing cloud service leverage. After many years of germination, most notably in the software-as-a-service arena, the core ideas at the heart of cloud computing such as pay for use, multi-tenancy and external services appear to be resonating more strongly. Pring says growth in the cloud services market is partly down to macroeconomic factors. He says the financial turbulence of the last 18 months has meant every organisation scrutinising every expenditure. An IT solution that can deliver functionality less expensively and with more agility is hard to ignore against this backdrop, he says. Empowering workers with agile communications The concept of empowering a workforce with agile IT extends to communications. Gartner predicts that social networking services in the cloud will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for communications for 20% of business users by 2014. Gartner analyst Monica Basso says, In the past, organisations supported collaboration through e-mail and highly structured applications. Today, social paradigms are converging with e-mail, instant messaging (IM) and presence, creating new collaboration styles. Gartner says newer employees will enter the workforce with a predisposition to communicate via a social network, but they will use e-mail in parallel. The rigid distinction between e-mail and social networks will erode. E-mail will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering, while social networks will develop richer e-mail capabilities, says Basso. Gartner predicts that the percentage of e-mail accounts on cloud services will grow to 10% by year-end 2012, up 7% from 2009. It says mobile business agility will also be extended through the use of smart phones. By 2012, says Gartner, contact lists, calendars and messaging clients in all smart phones will be social-enabled applications. Analyst Forrester Research says there is also progress towards supporting agile mobile business processes. Although the adoption of mobile business processes is well behind the take-up of mobile business e-mail and calendars, says Forrester, firms are expected to increase their adoption as suppliers launch more easier-to-deploy packaged solutions. Forrester recently published its Mobile Applications will Empower Enterprise Business Processes report, which says mobile applications for business use are receiving a great deal of attention from package application software vendors and considerable interest from business process professionals at firms.

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