The SMB Cloud Transformation

Mid-market business decision makers are being inundated cloud computing messages from just about every direction. Their technology suppliers want them to transform their IT infrastructure into an on-premise cloud computing environment. Cloud service providers are trying to persuade them to move the majority of their work into the service provider's data center by playing the song that cloud computing offers greater flexibility and reduced IT costs. Cloud application suppliers are suggesting that it would be better if trusted, tried and true personal productivity suites should be abandoned and the work be assigned to their cloud-based product.

IT Professionals put on the brakes

IT professionals are doing their best to inform and persuade the business decision makers to take their time and not rush into something that will put the IT operations of the business at risk, but are not always being heard over the cacophony of sounds coming from the market.

It is, after all, their responsibility to keep the business' IT infrastructure and workloads operating efficiently and reliability. Outsourcing all of the infrastructure to another could make this an impossible task.

Business decision makers hear the siren song of reduced costs

While the IT professional's disappointment at not being heard by business decision makers is understandable, the business decision makers are being forced to consider alternative approaches because owning and operating their own data center (sometimes only a data closet), having their own IT staff and paying for all of the needed systems, software, storage, cooling, power, and networking  equipment and services is costly and requires the business to fund services that may not be part of its core value to customers.

They are hoping that the siren song being sung by cloud service providers will eventually bring the business to a place in which IT is a much lower percent of the company's overhead and the company will be able to move much more quickly to address a rapidly changing market.

Suggestions

Business decision makers would be well advised to take a few moments to think about where the organization is and where they are going before making quick decisions. Here are some things that it would be wise for them to consider before taking action:

  • Know what your organization is actually doing with its IT investment today. This means taking stock of the application portfolio, the tools needed to support those applications and what type of expertise is needed to keep them all running.
  • Know the business requirements of each of those applications. Some applications are still too critical to entrust to others. Some less critical applications just might be good prospects for outsourcing to a service provider's data center.
  • Consider reliability, availability and security before making a move. Service providers have outages too. If the organization is totally reliant on a service provider and that provider has an outage, the company could be out of business unless back up plans are in place.
  • Talk to others who have successfully outsourced some workloads before making dramatic moves.
  • Talk to the business' technology providers to learn how they address this opportunity/challenge.
  • Make moves only when it is clear that the next step isn't going to be off the end of a cliff.

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This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. 


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