By Martino Corbelli, Director of Marketing, Star

Cloud computing services have become incredibly popular for consumers today by virtue of the fact that they are so easy to use and easy to pay for (sometimes free). This means you and I can make easy choices that are reflective of our disposable incomes. In just the same way, UK businesses have come to value the newly available cloud services that help them to transform their business operations, while increasing their ability to forecast and budget for IT more accurately than ever before.

But becoming more agile is not simply about putting specific processes in place. It is much more far reaching than that. In fact, it is a whole new mindset and approach. In an agile world we stop worrying exclusively about how much things are going to cost or how long processes will take and, instead, focus on spending money wisely and working in a timely manner.

This means accepting the reality that requirements are likely to change over time and the processes we use may need to be refined or even re-engineered to help react to those changes. Companies must be more dynamic than ever before in our history and having the capability to adapt and change in line with the challenges of the environment and market opportunity is critical to success.

It’s not all good news
However, having the capability to make decisions and change business practices has a cost. That cost is likely to be very high if the cost of ownership of the underlying infrastructure is always included. Most organisations have a high degree of investment in their own IT and communications systems, which is purchased using company capital, fully owned and usually run on the company’s own premises. All these factors are restrictive to making future decisions and re-assigning resources to where you need them most. This way of working does not lend itself well to running a dynamic company with agile capability and flexible finance options.

The biggest barrier to success is the self-interested IT department. Typically it is the IT department that proactively blocks all mention of cloud computing, smothering any such notion before it has a chance to resonate with the leaders of the business. Typically this is due to a lack of understanding about what cloud can do and the misleading conclusion therefore that it is a threat to the IT department. Instead of stifling an idea because of job security issues, IT departments would do well to embrace the opportunity that cloud computing services can bring by way of better utilisation of resources and delivery of value, at a time when IT budgets are under pressure.

The counter argument IT Managers tend to use is that of data security. But, in reality, data is more secure in a data centre facility that cost millions to build and run than on a company’s own premises. There is one real issue that must be addressed, who can you trust in the cloud when all the usual global vendors do not have a local version of their solution? This is why we now see a range of UK based and UK focused service providers available to meet the needs of UK businesses. This will take the intervention of the leadership team of any company to educate and motivate their IT departments to learn more about what cloud can do for them and adopt the services that make most sense and frees up resources to focus on core activities.

Agility in action
A great example of a company that has addressed the issues of utilising cloud services to provide the ability to scale up or down, in line with growth or contraction, is Richmond Events. By partnering with Star for managed cloud services the switched-on team at Richmond Events was able to realise a new level of business agility to cope with good times and bad. Its story clearly demonstrates how cloud computing matches costs to market forces. After all, just as it is critical for companies to be able to scale up their capability in the good times, it is also a great benefit to be allowed to shed costs in line with negative results when times are tough — a story less often told.

[b][u]Getting the right advice[b][u]
Organisations can look to their cloud service providers for robust and honest consulting and change management support when they are considering their cloud service procurement needs. Get things right from the start and cloud computing has much to offer to businesses of all shapes and sizes.

For more information download the free Cloud Computing Guide from: www.star.co.uk

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