How the Cloud Complements IT as a Service (ITaaS)
Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in IT as a Service (ITaaS) across organizations of every size. Conceptually, ITaaS is an operational model where IT organizations act like a business; focusing on delivery of services to the end-users, who are treated as consumers. While ITaaS is not a cloud-based model, it is directly enabled by other as-a-service models such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service.
A successful business transformation from traditional IT to ITaaS requires business leaders to have a strategic focus and expectation that IT should be dynamic, responsive, scalable and cost-effective. ITaaS is a scalable solution because it is billed monthly based on the services needed for the number of users in an organization (operation expense vs capital expense). Moving to this model requires much less overhead, allowing the organization to become more efficient, deploying services to the end user within minutes versus hours or days. IT organizations have essentially shifted from being service providers to enablers of services for consumption.
For most businesses, implementing the ITaaS model means moving services to the cloud to achieve maximum benefit of their new IT delivery model. While not a requirement, migrating IT infrastructure to the cloud transforms IT departments into vendor managers with new skills sets.
The First Step
The first step is to engage a cloud broker. In most cases, this will be a third party such as an outsourced IT firm or managed service provider. The primary role of a cloud broker is to act as an intermediary between the client (purchaser) and cloud service provider. However, this role extends well beyond to include IT governance, regulatory compliance, security and recoverability. A longer term relationship between a business and a third party provider may include managing multiple cloud vendors on behalf of the organization.
Why the Cloud Makes Sense for ITaaS
How does moving infrastructure to the cloud streamline ITaas? Although physical footprint has reduced over the years thanks to virtualization, consumption of resources has not. “Server sprawl” has become a significant, costly problem among most organizations. Server sprawl involves a large number of under-utilized servers that require too many resources and space than can be justified by their workload. Moving these workloads to the cloud reduces the number of servers, network complexity and dependent related costs (such as backup and recovery, storage, etc.), transforming businesses into more responsive and agile organizations and resulting in a richer end-user experience. This is key, as end-users have come to expect on-demand services and associate public cloud offerings like Dropbox, and Outlook with internal corporate IT. To this point, it is no longer acceptable to end users that internal IT departments take days to create a mail account, when end users themselves can do it online with Microsoft in under 5 minutes.
A typical CRM system deploys 2 to 4 servers, if not more. To support this configuration, an IT department may have a database administrator as well as someone responsible for backup, recovery and over performance. While one employee could be responsible for everything aforementioned, this scenario is unlikely as the responsibilities require different skill sets. As we mentioned already, the cloud allows organizations to reduce their server and dependent costs (i.e. backup and recovery) and reduces direct support costs. Because the service is in the cloud, a new user can be rapidly provisioned meeting today’s expectation of IT on demand. This results in the end user (consumer) getting a higher-quality product (services) and the organization getting better understanding of the per users cost (unlike traditional IT with its dependences, etc.). Expand this out, you now become a highly scalable environment with a fixed delivery cost per employee that is predictable versus the cost of hardware plus software plus support services. Moreover, your IT department roles and size shift, from IT management to vendor management; which can be easily outsourced. Ideally, an organization would have a catalog of services that can be provisioned on-demand when needed. The shift in responsibility moves from a technical IT staff, to an administrator of cloud services with less training and more focus on customer services versus maintaining servers.
- End-users have become consumers of information; changing and demanding how IT services are delivered
- Cloud services has enabled organizations to shift the IT model to a delivery based model vs provider model
- IT organizations have shifted to a more customer service approach when delivering services
- Costs of ITaaS are predictable and transparent, allowing an organization to better control of IT expenses
- ITaaS delivers only what is needed and better aligns business needs to the delivery of technology
- An organization’s IT department skills shift to a vendor management model under ITaaS
- The transformation from a traditional IT services model to ITaaS is becoming a natural transition. Just requires IT management to embrace and realign.
Over the years, many SMBs have successfully shifted responsibility to an outsourced IT provider and have been very successful, therefore utilizing the ITaaS model without even knowing it. The key to success is finding a partner that understands your business goals and can properly align these goals with an effective cloud solution, streamlining your business’ IT department and providing services on an as-needed basis.