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Making cloud feature in business value

Cloud computing delivers business value when the full extent of features available are understood and defined to fit KPIs

Making cloud feature in business value

Mark Chillingworth

When choosing a house, the purchase is about so much more than a building. True, at a basic level, a house is a building with four walls, a roof and interconnections to infrastructure such as power, clean water and waste. But choosing a house is a far more involved and complex purchasing decision than just selecting the building. Buyers consider the travel options, possibly the nearby schools, local shops, access to parks and recreation and of course the features of the house such as the number of rooms, energy efficiency and the size of the garden.

As organisations increase their enterprise cloud computing adoption, the same process as buying a house occurs. The features of cloud computing need to be considered to ensure that the cloud delivers business value. As with a house, the features of the cloud are diverse; applications are the rooms where the business activity takes place, the cloud is also the infrastructure that provides energy to your organisation. Therefore defining the features that make up the cloud estate within the organisation is as essential as purchasing a home that benefits everyone who will live there. The feature set of the cloud estate must benefit all layers of the organisation, providing productivity, efficiency, security, growth and reliability. Together these will ensure the cloud delivers business value.

An event often triggers a home move – an increase in family size, the need to work from home – and the same is true of the move to cloud computing. The digitisation of the economy will require organisations to increase their usage of cloud computing if they are to effectively manage data levels, build apps and services that are cloud-native and therefore able to meet the needs of customers, and enable the diverse and remote workforce that will shape the modern enterprise. Before a home buyer hits Purple Bricks or Zoopla, at the very least, they jot down what the house must feature. To get business value from cloud computing, it is vital that organisations define their requirements and expectations. These will typically be the business needs and how enterprise cloud computing delivers business outcomes and meets key performance indicators (KPI).

The definition stage will help the organisation with the technical processes that follow, such as migrating applications and workloads to the cloud. With a well-defined understanding of the features that the business requires, it will be possible to determine the configurations and features needed. This process is best achieved as a business-wide objective, with technologists, business lines, senior leadership team and the technology partner working together to harmonise the requirements and, therefore, the feature set the enterprise will use.

 

Business Benefits

The features of the cloud estate must be constantly connected to business value. Management consultancy McKinsey notes in a paper that businesses that get the most value from software investments are those that “tackle entrenched cultural and structural barriers”. The features and scalability of cloud computing enable organisations to become data-centric, agile and efficient, which beneficially changes the culture.

Early in the move towards enterprise cloud computing, organisations simply lifted and shifted their application stack and business operating models to the cloud. The scalability of the cloud provided frontline workers with greater scope; as a result, cloud computing only temporarily reduced IT operating costs. The business value of the cloud is to re-engineer data and business processes to take advantage of the cloud’s scale and adopt features, applications, and tools that completely modernise the organisation and the way it operates.

The greenfield businesses that were born cloud-native have taken this approach, which has allowed them to seize a significant slice of their chosen vertical market.

McKinsey adds in a separate paper that organisations must use the features of the cloud to tackle integration, tech debt and patchwork service problems that inhibit the modern large enterprise, particularly those in financial services and the public sector. McKinsey warns that organisations can rapidly add new technology capabilities to their businesses with cloud computing, but without a clear focus on the business value, this can add to increases in business complexity and, therefore, the maintenance and operating costs.

Cloud adoption is also an opportunity to reduce existing costs and complexity. In a partnership with eSynergy Solutions, Public sector organisation Ofqual was able to reduce its dependence on legacy technology with a new enterprise cloud approach. eSynergy Solutions identified that the legacy infrastructure of Ofqual no longer fitted the needs of the digital services and data services the government organisation offered; as a result, Ofqual carried a significant level of technical debt. From August 2020, eSynergy Solutions began replacing the legacy estate using the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for the Azure environment. On-premise servers were migrated to Microsoft Azure; in addition, existing Azure deployments were replatformed, cutting inefficient Azure usage and reducing cloud computing costs at the department. Ofqual has also benefited from increased automation, operational efficiency, and working methods.

The structural modernisation of an organisation, which makes full use of the cloud and the features it offers, will deliver value if there is a constant focus on the needs of the organisation. Just as the features of a home may need to be changed according to new needs, this constant focus on usage will ensure the features match the demands.

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