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Untangling the complexity of cloud computing

How managed cloud services can deliver better value and expertise for your organisation

Organisations are under more pressure than ever to deliver cost-effective digital services that meet the demands of internal and external customers.

To achieve this, IT departments at organisations across Australia and New Zealand have been frantically rolling out cloud services. In fact, two-thirds of organisations in both countries are now running more than one distinct cloud service, according to IDG’s research.

Although choosing the right cloud for the right workload does have its advantages, CIOs really do need to be sensible about how their applications are managed to prevent “cloud sprawl” and other challenges like security and integration.

But it seems there is a significant amount of cloud sprawl going on throughout organisations. Of the 100 senior IT professionals surveyed by IDG at organisations across Australia and New Zealand, 13 per cent say they now have more than five cloud services in operation.

Despite the benefits, bringing more and more cloud services online can become a headache for CIOs and their IT teams. As the number of cloud engagements grows, so does the time and resources that are needed to manage third-party infrastructure services.

It’s quite common for organisations to believe that cloud services, in general, are “automatic” and don’t require a lot of intervention. Once they are consuming those services

But this could not be further from the truth. In fact, 56 per cent of respondents to IDG’s research felt that having the internal expertise to manage multiple platforms could help them better manage their cloud systems. Fifty-four per cent indicated that they would benefit from having a single point of contact for system administration and troubleshooting.

Angus Dorney, senior director and general manager, at Rackspace ANZ, believes that 90 per cent of organisations that are consuming “infrastructure-as-a-service” are not doing it properly.

“I think that leads to increased cost and a range of other challenges that we are seeing start to proliferate.”

As a result, IT departments are quickly realising that clouds don’t manage themselves, he says.

“IT teams need someone to help them manage cloud infrastructure, and it’s not just the ongoing 24x7 support of monitoring, management and troubleshooting; it’s the front end of their overall strategy and the approach and architecture that needs to be bedded down before they can start consuming cloud services,” Dorney says.

“A good cloud strategy doesn’t just cover the architecture and physical resources an organisation is using – it needs to cover aspects like identity and access management, governance, security, and audit”, he says.

“There’s also the consideration of who resolves what when there is a problem? Who has access to resources in the cloud and who doesn’t, how data is being protected, as well as which information needs to be encrypted and which information doesn’t?”

“These are fundamental considerations that companies need to address,” he says.

Dorney warns that if organisations are consuming cloud services in the same way they have traditionally consumed IT infrastructure in their own data centre, they are simply not going to get the benefits they are after.

“On many occasions it can even be more expensive than running services in your own data centre. So unless you are running [cloud services] properly and you either have the internal expertise or a partner, you are not going to see the benefits from cloud that encouraged you to make the move in the first place,” he says.

IDG research found that managing cloud infrastructure is far from “effortless” with 40 per cent of organisations using cloud services spending at least 20 per cent of their team’s time on ongoing maintenance.

Dorney feels that this number is lower than what IT teams are really experiencing.

“My perception was that this [20 per cent figure] is way too low. If it’s true that they are only spending that amount of time, then that would be great but I think the real number is closer to 80 per cent,” he says.

“What we see is that internal IT teams are still spending a significant majority of their time on low-value tasks when they could be diverting this talent to projects that are really aligned to their organisation’s business growth objectives.

Ultimately, when moving to the cloud, customers have a choice. They can build their own internal capability or they can engage a partner with the expertise to assist.

“Customers are looking for trusted and objective advisors in this space. There are many organisations using multiple cloud services – each cloud provider tells their customer that they can use their cloud for everything,” he says.

“It’s a difficult situation to be in as a customer – looking for objective partners that can help them decide which workloads fit on what cloud. And that’s another area where a good managed service provider can help.”

For the full IDG research report click here

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