For most businesses, the internal IT organization delivers the infrastructure necessary to support business operations. To accomplish this task, IT has a long tradition of operating in silos, with different groups of specialized professionals working mostly independently of one another to provide their different technical competencies, including server and systems administration, storage, or networking.
But in recent years, as many businesses have struggled to adapt to a new economic climate, investments in infrastructure upgrades have been delayed. In the meantime, technology has advanced far beyond those incremental IT improvements that were implemented to simply maintain business operations. These forces are leading businesses to adopt cloud services to lower their IT expenses. In many cases, moving to the cloud means transforming how a business builds and supports its infrastructure. The cloud forces a move away from the traditional siloed approach and toward a converged infrastructure in which server, storage, networking, and other competencies all work together to facilitate business goals.
This transformation of the IT organization and infrastructure becomes more pronounced every day. Cloud technology continues to evolve rapidly, with more and more businesses adopting the cloud in an effort to lower operational costs. As a result, we are seeing IT organizations increasingly turn to outside resources to provide cloud-based infrastructure solutions. This trend is changing how these solutions are delivered and managed.
In addition to helping an IT organization implement a cloud setup, an external partner can act as the actual cloud provider or a conduit between the IT organization and the cloud provider, or it can provide cloud management services. This can allow IT to provide infrastructure as a service within the organization, rather than as a system. The company can conserve significant resources and free up room on the budget for other objectives.
In a world of cloud where IT is provided as a service, rather than as a system, it is wise to choose a solution provider that can bridge the gap between IT, business units, and the end user. But how can you ensure you are making the best decision? There are three critical characteristics IT managers should be evaluating in a solution provider as they move their company's infrastructure to the cloud.
- Skill set: With any potential partner, it is critical to evaluate its cloud strategy and skills against those of your internal team. Are your team's skills keeping pace with cloud advancements, or is it lacking in a certain area? The right provider should have the skills to supplement or substitute your organization's abilities.
- Mindset: As I already mentioned, in today's economy, businesses need to get more out of their IT infrastructure while working with tighter budgets. When it comes to IT, the new rule of thumb is doing more with less, and the cloud is by definition more with less. When shopping for a solution provider, ask yourself: Will this provider help my business achieve the most for our money? Will its cloud strategy extend the life of my infrastructure?
- Business savvy: Look for a partner that has evolved from the days when solution providers simply sold and installed infrastructure. Those days are gone. You are evolving as an IT organization. You need a solution provider that has proven its ability to adapt to ever-changing economic conditions, business goals, and technology. Does the provider ask about the needs of your customers and end users? Will it go the extra mile to help your IT organization use cloud services to meet those needs?
Like IT, cloud services exist to facilitate the achievement of business goals. Be sure to seek out professionals who can understand and help you fulfill those goals.