Making Sense Of The ‘C’ Word

Once you have stepped off your cloud assisted train, and bought your managed cloud croissant, you can log on to your cloud hosted desktop, which attaches to your cloud network, to your cloud v-server running your applications-as-a-service – confused?

If you are a senior IT decision maker, I’ll put a hefty bet that you are currently being bombarded with this sort of ‘cloud’ marketing collateral from every direction right now.

The truth of the matter is that almost all providers have re-badged their traditional businesses with the ‘C’ word, hoping to get your attention. All the time this is happening, the industry risks devaluing what could be a real transformation in the IT and business applications space.

Apps is actually where it’s at. By now you’ve probably recognised the need for apps in your business. These range from highly customised, “only would ever work for your business”, core business applications that are the crown jewels of your industry; through to “everyone’s got one” email and payroll systems.

In truth, you have some skills in house to do a lot of the work to keep these applications afloat, but it’s a limited pool, some of the apps don’t have 24×7, some are working beautifully, and some of them are cracking at the seams.

Application by application, you have a different landscape of things that are complex and interrelate. And the interrelationships are critical, because if these break your business processes break. Then your users complain. Then your helpdesk gets swamped. Then the board start moaning about IT….

The relentless marketing machine in IT says you should buy some “cloud” to solve this. And maybe you should, but in reality, rather than focussing just on the delivery model, first shouldn’t we all focus on the applications needed to run a successful business, innovate above competition and deliver value to customers?

Instead of choosing between the cookie-cutter 5p per user per month model to buy some e-mail from an unknown data centre, or 10p per user per month to outsource your full Payroll system, or 50p per user per month to outsource your warehouse system so it can sit on the “cherry picker cloud” service run from a eco-friendly data centre in Iceland – shouldn’t you look to something that fits your own business needs?

A cloud is made up of hosted IT and applications. A cloud service that is meaningful to business needs is bespoke IT and applications that meet specific short and long-term requirements, integrated with appropriately sourced cloud services from best of breed providers – and most importantly, your internal IT function.

You shouldn’t aim for anything less than a service which compliments your existing working services, and replaces the ones that need attention with the right solution picked from your own services, partner services and alternative delivery models. We have been providing services like these for years, considering more than just cost and “self service provisioning.” It just wasn’t always called “cloud”.

A “typical solution” doesn’t exist within our customer base. All of our customers have trusted us to integrate various IT components, from their own skills, third party skills and our own skills to provide the service they need to run their business.

In IT terms, this is integrated collocation services, remote managed services, hosted services, virtual desktop services, public cloud services, mobile device management services, public and private network services, voice/telephony services, collaboration services, ERP services, CRM services within our helpdesk and service management services and it works. There’s only one cloud in that list.

If you’re looking for more bamboozling cloud blurb – you can easily go out and find it. But don’t be fooled into forgetting about the application.

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Phil Clark has worked in the IT and Telecoms Managed Services industry for over 20 years, working with Accenture and IBM before joining niu Solutions. His role is to identify appropriate services to suit a number of different vendors and partners using his knowledge on market strategies as well as managing key strategic channel relationships.