Cloud @ 2017

By Sabyasachi Ch Thakur, VP-IT, Parksons Packaging Ltd

Few years back, discussion on Cloud at various forums and events was centred around what are the benefits of cloud, and whether security is compromised on cloud or not. Any strategic application roll out on cloud was a strict no. Today there is a complete change in attitude towards cloud and during major application / Infrastructure related investment, Functional heads and CXOs are asking CIOs, “Why not Cloud?”As with any new technology, after the initial euphoria and hiccups, followed by multitude of successful implementations of various kinds of applications and platforms, today cloud is indeed a technology that has arrived. It is no longer a test platform of development servers or business continuity plan, but serious Business ERPs and mission critical production systems, of companies of different sizes and maturity levels run on cloud.

Hype in IT is not a new thing, but I feel the reason Cloud has caught the imagination of all, is due to the exponential growth in Startup ecosystem and advent of Software-as-a-Service such as the likes of Salesforce. com to start with and many others which followed subsequently. Capex investment for Hardware and IT infrastructure and maintenance issues, vanished with the coming of age of Cloud technology. “Pay as you grow” is the new mantra.

"It is not easy to forego the past investments and change one’s IT infrastructure and application landscape to cloud overnight"

While start-ups and small companies can be 100 percent on cloud today, let’s look at how matured organisations look at Cloud today. It is assumed that these companies have already invested in IT infrastructures such as Data centre, Servers, and On-premise applications. It is not easy to forego the past investments and change one’s IT infrastructure and application landscape to cloud overnight. So how can such companies get the benefits of cloud and yet leverage the existing investment.

The first and foremost step is to evaluate the application portfolio and create an IT Infrastructure roadmap, with an option to use cloud. If the on-premise model works well for the organisation, they can very well continue to do so. But more often it will be found that a hybrid cloud environment fits well for most matured companies.

Let’s look at certain real life scenarios.

Scenario1:

A Company which invested in server room 10 years back ago, is in average condition now and needs to be rebuilt with new equipment. The company management would like to see IT focusing more on Business transformation projects, rather than IT infrastructure maintenance. In such cases hosting the applications on a private cloud shifting to SAAS based applications for email, CRM etc. can be a good strategy.

Scenario 2:

A Company has a good data centre setup and most of its applications are on premise. However, as per audit requirement a DR needs to be built in a different city. There is no adequate skill set or place to setup DR. The company can look at setting up DR in cloud and once gets accustomed to cloud environment, can slowly shift other applications to cloud.

Scenario 3:

The company was using custom ERP, installed in its own moderate server room. However, business has grown exponentially and it needs an ERP such as SAP /Oracle/ Microsoft. The investment needed for good quality data centre and servers is high. ERP on cloud on opex model can very well be an option that the company can look into. There is no spike in cash flow and the cost is evened out in 5 years, with an option to replace the underlying IT assets after 5 years. CFO is happy and so is CIO, as he gets to use the latest server after 5 years, at approximately same annual cost. In case, the number of ERP users is less (may be 15-20 finance users using finance module if ERP), the company can also take ERP on SAAS subscription model, where both the ERP license and underlying hardware will be bundled as a package. Company need not worry of underlying server. However, as number of users grow, it’s always advisable to have a dedicated server under private cloud for ERP.

Scenario 4:

A multinational company is setting up its operations in India. The Key production systems are running on Datacentre outside India. However, a few local systems are needed to be deployed in local servers. So while key business applications and mails were running from global private cloud, local applications can be deployed on a private cloud from Indian provider.

Scenario 5:

A company has invested in a good data centre few years back and all its business applications, mails etc. run on premise. SAP was implemented couple of years back. However, the company needs to overhaul its email and CRM system. It decides to go for subscription based solutions with a hybrid cloud setup linking it’s on premise ERP with CRM on cloud.

We have discussed some real life scenarios above, which will help us visualise, how and in what manner cloud based solutions are getting deployed in various organisations. There is no fixed formula that works for all and each organisation has to find its own way, on how to leverage best from the myriads of Cloud deployment options available today.

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