- February 13, 2020
- Catagory Multi-Cloud
There’s a lot to be said for having a single public cloud platform for all mission critical workloads, especially if it’s through managed service provider because you know who to hold accountable if something goes wrong.
But the rise of multi-cloud reflects that different public cloud platforms have their unique strengths and are better at some things than others. Some are geared for high a volume of transactions with reliability for busy periods, while others are better for low priority workloads, such as backups. Some public cloud platforms require a great deal of technical know how from the customer, while others have easy to use drag and drop interfaces.
You might use one platform for business users to support collaboration, while another is more appealing to technical staff and developers working on custom applications that aren’t yet in production. Your industry and the nature of your business, as well as how your people are organized, also influence what public cloud platform make the most sense for you.
Balance standardization with niche needs
If you’re an SMB, then you’re probably looking for the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to public cloud platforms. Even if you have the budget for multiple instances, you want to make sure they’ll improve productivity without making your IT team work harder or require a great deal of user support.
For general collaboration, you’re going to want something that’s easy to onboard users regardless of location and has a straightforward pricing model. This is especially true for organizations with multiple locations spread across a city, province or even across the country. Real estate, for example, includes brokers, agents and property managers geographically dispersed and handling a wide array of tasks and client information, and they will need to be productive on the go. Charities and other not-for-profit organizations, meanwhile, are particularly resource-constrained, so they want something that requires little technical management.
Either Microsoft Office 365 or Google Docs are likely to tick all the boxes for most general collaboration and productivity needs, including email integration to keep people in touch. However, there may be some business users who have specific needs, such as sales and marketing, so you’re possibly looking at another public cloud instance for a CRM tool. The good news is that many public cloud platforms from different vendors do play nice and offer integrations, so they will work well in tandem.
If you can standardize on a select number of public cloud platforms for business users, you’ll make productivity gains while lowering your total cost of ownership and keep IT staff freed to work on other projects. However, certain user groups within the organization may have specific, niche requirements.
Pick the right public cloud platform for the right workload
Cloud-based collaboration and communications are table stakes for most organization, but certain industries turn to public cloud platforms for workloads that are unique and often seasonal.
Despite being resource constrained, charities and other not-for-profit organizations may have busy seasons for donations that require a robust technology infrastructure to support online donations. Similarly, the education sector has busy periods where prospective students are bombarding them with applications. Municipal governments also have their busy seasons, such as registration for seasonal community programs, while retail must be sure their e-commerce and point of sale systems are ready for the spike in shopping from Black Friday to Boxing Day Week.
These workloads tend to be a little more unique. Unlike collaboration tools where features and ease of use and management are deciding factors, other compute and storage needs of SMBs are all different and heavily influenced by the nature of their respective industry and regulatory environment. Reliability and redundancy are especially critical, and given that these workloads are most customized, require technical expertise to deploy them on the most appropriate public cloud platform.
A multi-cloud strategy enables organizations to leverage the ideal public cloud platform for the right business need. Although some can be set up easily with and run with little IT support, others might benefit from the expertise of a managed service provider who can help you get the most from your public cloud deployments.
- January 27, 2020
- Catagory Multi-Cloud
Effective, robust multi-cloud security can’t be an afterthought. Securing public cloud instances is one of many significant operational considerations when embracing a multi-cloud strategy.
By making multi-cloud security an upfront priority, you prevent a lot of headaches that would inevitably pop up down the road, including interoperability issues. It also gives you a template for best practices and policy when securing public cloud instances in the future.
Draw a map of your multi-cloud security
Effectively securing public cloud instances should be guided not only by today’s needs from the platform but also how it might meet future business requirements as part of a broader multi-cloud environment. You need to align your business drivers for running multiple clouds with a security strategy so you can reduce—if not eliminate—weak links that can lead to data breaches and non-compliance with regulatory requirements and privacy legislation.
Define cloud workload security requirements
Multi-cloud’s reason for being reflects the trend toward lines of business and different areas of IT wanting to use the best cloud for the workload based on feature and performance needs. But multi-cloud security is no different than hybrid cloud environments in that you must keep in mind data confidentiality, integrity and availability.
Evaluate built-in cloud security features
Each public cloud platform comes with its own built-in security controls but securing public cloud instances will vary from provider to provider, even if the service is the same. How Amazon Web Services (AWS) secures a backup service offering will differ from that of Microsoft Azure, for example, so make you must understand the embedded security controls and tools for each cloud platform, and which ones are switch on by default, such as data encryption. Once you’ve established foundational multi-cloud security, you can augment appropriately on a per-platform basis.
Layer on additional security as needed
Multi-cloud security requires consistency. Once you understand what’s already built into the various cloud platforms you’ve spun up for each workload, you can add more layers, including third party tools, so you’re always applying global security policy automatically no matter how your multi-cloud environment grows or changes. Automation is critical to effectively securing public cloud instances in a scalable manner that keeps your overall environment manageable.
Multi-cloud security means 24/7 monitoring
Securing public cloud instances in a hybrid model usually means relying on security tools from a specific provider or one you’ve selected for monitoring your on-premises environment. Multi-cloud security means you must maximize visibility across your entire portfolio of cloud deployments and any other systems with which they may interact.
Multi-cloud security requires significant forethought if you’re achieve and maintain the necessary visibility to mitigate risk and meet today’s ongoing compliance and regulatory pressures. Securing public cloud instances in a multi-cloud environment also means knowing for certain who’s responsibility for what and establishing practices so you can scale and automate security with the pace of business and a cloud-first strategy.
- December 11, 2019
- Catagory Managed IT Services
Even as 2019 starts to wind down, it’s hard not think about the year ahead and how best to focus our energies—including IT operations. It’s safe to say the more things change, the more things stay the same as many of challenges will continue into 2020 as they have in previous years.
However, these challenges continue to evolve and coming up with a strategy for them can better prepare you for emerging technologies and trends that are bound to affect your business operations and your IT infrastructure, if sometimes only indirectly.
It seems a little obvious to say security is important—most consider it table stakes when deploying and managing IT today—but it can never be overstated that it’s something you must keep on top of. Threats to data and applications, either from human error or malicious threats such as malware and hackers, are never going to go away. If you only make one New Year’s resolution, make it to get your arms around security. The next year will go smoother operationally with better visibility into what’s going on across your network, and what’s happening to your data. Both your C-suite and customers will benefit.
Compliance and Privacy
Security should not be confused with compliance and privacy, and vice versa, but all three are heavily intertwined. Security is an essential part of being compliant with privacy legislation, and there’s consequences for not being able to adhere to the various regulatory frameworks and legislation in play. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) aren’t going anywhere, and the state of California has its own privacy legislation in the works. Despite their countries of origins, their impact can penetrate many other jurisdictions worldwide. If you don’t know if and how these and other rules affect you, make 2020 the year you figure out for certain.
Part of compliance is data governance, but even without privacy legislation at play, there’s plenty of reasons to have a strategy in place to manage the exponential growth of information. Whether it’s practical considerations such as storing it cost effectively or making it better available for business applications, the time to get a handle on your data is always now because it’s only going to grow in volume and velocity.
As public clouds platforms proliferate and widen their scope to offer more services and handle more workloads, a multi-cloud model has emerged that reflects the reality that business requirements from various cloud platforms differ. Some are better suited for handling the application and data demands of marketing and salespeople, while others are better geared for processing a high volume of transactions, rapidly and reliably. Although a public cloud provider may do everything a business needs, it can also mean compromising on features or performance. A best-of-breed, multi-cloud approach reduces dependence on any single public cloud platform while preserving the flexibility to move workloads between providers.
Business Intelligence and Data Analytics
Getting a handle on your data is essential if you want to make good use of it. No matter than size of your organization, it’s full of information that can help you optimize operations and business processes while improving your marketing, whether it’s by helping you land new customers or keep the current ones happy—even upselling them to buy more of your products and services. Business intelligence certainly isn’t new, but because every organization is swimming in information, it’s no longer a luxury. If you’re not tapping into it for competitive advantage, others in your industry certainly are.
The Internet of Things / Operational Technology
Some of that data is coming from new and interesting place as the Internet of Things and operational technology (OT) devices are increasingly comprising enterprise networks. Traditionally segmented from IT infrastructure, OT endpoints in manufacturing and municipal facilities that deliver water and power are being added to existing IP networks. These pose challenges from a management and security perspective, but also present opportunities to innovate based on the data that’s ingested, as well as optimizing business processes.
Gone are the days of throwing more people at a problem. Even if money is no object, it’s no longer feasible to do every task manually—people just can’t keep up. In the rush to try, human error can lead to misconfigurations that impact security posture, compliance and the customer experience. It means your IT teams aren’t focusing on strategic initiatives and you’re not focused on your core business. Whether it’s automating through emerging technologies enabled by artificial intelligence or handing off repetitive tasks to a business process services provider, you need to make smart decisions about who does what and why.
A new year always brings new opportunities and new challenges. No matter the size of your business or industry, all these technology trends are bound to affect you in some way. Understanding how is the first step, and that’s where a managed IT services provider can help. They’ve already helped other customers navigate the terrain and develop best practices that you can implement to move your business forward and improve the bottom line.
- November 28, 2019
- Catagory Multi-Cloud
Build an effective multi-cloud environment by choosing the right public cloud for the right workload
Choosing the right public cloud is tough enough even when you’re only looking to migrate a single application. Figuring out the right mix for a multi-cloud environment brings with it a much more complex set of considerations.
It doesn’t help matters that there’s a lot more choices. The major providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud, are all offering an increasingly diverse set of services. And as the transition to on-demand IT in a multi-cloud environment accelerates, choosing the right public cloud, or multiple ones, can be overwhelming for an IT decision maker.
Find balance in multi-cloud
There’s an appealing simplicity about selecting a single cloud platform that will meet all your needs, but a multi-cloud environment means you’re not fully dependent on a single vendor. In the same way there’s value in having a best-of-breed approach to applications to meet specific business needs, so too is there in taking a best-in-class approach to multi-cloud providers.
Choosing the right public cloud should be guided by business requirements and lead to best provider for the task at hand. Some applications and data sets may require especially high transfer speeds, while others prioritize maximize uptime in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Your multi-cloud environment should ultimately reflect how you need to do business, rather than changing your processes to match how the cloud provider operates.
Improve security and resilience to mitigate risk
Choosing the right public cloud can help you bolster security and your organization’s overall resilience if you can effectively match your requirements as you build out your multi-cloud environment.
When it comes to security, cloud providers can potentially bring a lot to the table. In addition to securing their own infrastructure, they can apply the same capabilities to your mission-critical data. However, a multi-cloud environment still means there’s a shared responsibility for security, so make sure who’s responsible for what.
In addition to shoring up your security, a multi-cloud environment can add resilience through redundant backup and recovery to ensure business continuity when disaster strikes, whether it’s something small and simple such as hardware failure or large-scale natural disaster. By choosing a cloud platform that improves both your security and resilience, you can better manage risk, and a multi-cloud environment means that if one provider runs into problems, you can turn to another to quickly take over.
Choosing the right public cloud adds agility
The ability for one provider to take over from another supports another key benefit of a multi-cloud environment—agility. The whole point of multi-cloud environments is you can mix and match, and any providers you ultimate select should work together seamlessly so you can flexibly invest in each platform based on application and data needs driven by business growth.
Building your own multi-cloud environment can seem overwhelming, but an experienced managed IT services provider can help with choosing the right public cloud for each workload and help you weave different ones together to achieve flexibility and scalability.
- November 7, 2019
- Catagory Managed IT Services
IT strategies for SMBs are essential for organizations looking to scale and up grow their bottom line, but many face the same challenges as large enterprises without the resources.
There are ways to do what the bigger players are doing so you can grow your organization and your profits, but IT strategies for SMBs must have a vision, an understanding of the cloud solutions available to them, and consider how a managed services provider can get them were they need to be within their budget.
IT strategies for SMBs start with an audit
Not all businesses are the same, so IT strategies for SMBs will vary by industry and inherent regulatory frameworks, business models and overall digital maturity. Regardless, there will be low hanging fruit that can advance the organization quickly and affordably, while other initiatives will be multi-year projects that must to be broken down into achievable milestones.
Common goals within many IT strategies for SMBs are tapping into needed talent, which could involve recruitment and retention of employees or selective outsourcing to access skills on demand, improving agility by automating tasks or handing them over to a business process services organization. Given the ramifications of data breaches, bolstering security should also be a priority and embedded within all growth activities. It also might be achieved with automation—even artificial intelligence—or turning to a managed services provider for help. Most organizations are looking at how they can improve overall productivity.
IT strategies for SMBs should identify priorities based on a comprehensive audit of your environment, whether it’s your own on-premise infrastructure or cloud deployments, including use of the public providers. You can’t have a vision of the future without knowing for sure where you are today. This assessment is also something that can be done in collaboration with a managed services provider and can clarify your current security and compliance posture.
There are solutions in the cloud
Your IT audit can help you easily identify what you can do by yourself and what elements of your strategy are better executed with the help of an experienced technology partner.
There are number of solutions available with IT strategies for SMBs in mind. You might begin by implementing organization-wide, online collaboration with Microsoft Office 365 and Teams, or alternatively, go the Google route with Gmail for business and Docs. You’ll want to think about the value of consolidating solution providers as simplicity for SMBs can keep costs under control and ease user adoption. Even if you go best-of-breed, most cloud-based SMB solutions are pay-as-go so you can budget expenditures as you grow.
No matter what solutions you adopt, remember they’re only as good as the workflows and processes you foster and the underlying infrastructure that supports them. In case of the latter, it’s one of the first things you should consider handing off.
Leverage the investments of a managed services provider
As much as any SMB requires technology to operate and is just as driven by data as its larger counterparts, they’re not in the IT business. And just as cloud-based SMB solutions are pay as you go, managed IT services providers offer similar pricing flexibility and can scale up and down in alignment with the ebbs and flows of your business.
Once you’ve done an audit to understand where you are and where you’re going, you can figure which problems are best solved by a managed services provider, even if it’s only one business process, but one of the biggest benefits is you no longer need worry about maintaining aging infrastructure with the limited IT staff and resources you have. A managed services provider has made the investments and is committed to maintaining their infrastructure to support your applications and store your data with a high level of security.
This investment isn’t limited to hardware and software. Often, an SMB can’t justify bringing on talent full-time, such as a DBA, but a managed services provider can provide people on demand as needed so you don’t have to worry about recruitment and retention but still enjoy necessary expertise when you need it.
IT strategies for SMBs are all about a better bottom line
Embracing cloud solutions and entrusting data and business processes to a managed services provider are key elements of IT strategies for SMBs, even if it’s only for a small segment of daily operations. The right combination can improve productivity and the speed of your service delivery at a lower cost, and most of all, lead to a better bottom line.
Sanjeev Spolia is CEO of Supra ITS.
- October 24, 2019
Freight transportation is fast paced with tight margins, and while technology can give companies competitive advantage, the road to a better bottom line must include business process services.
Like many industries, freight transportation is dependent on a lot of things happening behind the scenes so parcels large and small get from A to B. But essential as they are, they aren’t necessarily core business operations. In addition, keeping some processes in-house can be more expensive because it means maintaining IT and communications infrastructure that ties up people and resources and keeps them from pushing forward on more strategic initiatives.
More importantly, it can stop a freight transportation business in its tracks if this infrastructure were to fail.
Business process services keeps your wheels turning
A large organization might be able to recover from a major IT outage once or twice in a decade, but most businesses in the freight transportation would come to a permanent halt if their primary systems failed. Customers depend on them to keep freight moving because their operations can’t afford to stand still either and they will quickly seek alternative operators. In addition, managing every non-core process internally means you’re paying for people and technology even when they’re idle because you must have them in place when busy seasons hit.
However, many of the everyday business processes a freight transportation company undertakes can be handed over to a trusted partner. Order entry, billing, rating, call taking, cube entry, customer service, dispatch and pod entry, as well as interline, driver and dock payable, are all activities that are candidates for a third-party business process services provider.
A roadmap of benefits for freight transportation
Turning to a business process services provider for repeatable tasks can have immediate benefits while also positioning a freight transportation company to go the distance over the longer term.
By not doing all these processes and workflows internally you’re better controlling and reducing your operating costs because you’re no longer paying to maintain resources to keep up with the business times of year even when business is slow. A business process services provider can operate 24 hours a day, seven days week, 365 days of year. They’re also taking care of the onboarding and training costs, as well as managing any employee turnover.
As a freight transportation services company, you’re also in the position where you only pay for what is processed in alignment with your operational costs and your revenue generation, which means you can scale up and down with the ebb and flow of your business. Better still, you can more easily expand the footprint of your business because it’s easy to extend your business process services team.
Focus on the road ahead with FleetGain Business Process Services
When you’re in a tight race for competitive advantage, every inch you can add to your lead is valuable and every penny adds up. The goal of FleetGain Business Process Services is to keep pace with your business success with a team of data entry operators, analysts, supervisors, managers and IT support teams.
And just as your industry is competitive, so is ours. That’s why we’ve made sure to pull together the collective strengths of global talent, tested processes and the latest technology to deliver continuous business impact and an improved bottom line for freight transportation companies. Whether it’s to address a temporary overflow situation or a long-term partnership, aligning with FleetGain’s Business Process Services lets you offload back office, repetitive data entry and transfer functions so you can focus on the business of picking up, moving and delivering freight to grow your bottom line.
Terry Holland is Director, Logistics and Supply Chain Services for Supra ITS.
- October 3, 2019
- Catagory Business Process Services
Choosing a business process services provider is like any vendor selection scenario—there’s an element of risk management.
If you’re to get the benefits of handing over tasks to a third party, then you must put careful thought into what you need from a partner. By infusing your criteria into a detailed selection process, you can reap the rewards of handing over repetitive tasks while reducing the risk.
Having a stringent selection process in place will lead you to an experienced business processes services provider with a track record of anticipating any potential pitfalls who sees your success as their success.
What to consider when choosing a business process services provider
Even If you’re only looking to hand over a single, simple process, choosing a business process services provider requires a lot of forward thinking.
You should start by being certain that it makes sense to offload these processes—there should be a solid business case for doing so that defines the scope of the arrangement, which is essential for risk management. Choosing a business process services provider means not only considering your immediate needs but having an operating model that can scale up and down with the ebb and flow of your business.
Be prepared to do a lot of work upfront to define the business relationship and evaluate potential candidates. Choosing a business process services provider should be a comprehensive and formal exercise. Consulting all stakeholders touched by the processes you want to hand off should be part of your risk management process, as their understanding will paint a clear picture as to how these processes are threaded through your organization.
Your approach to choosing a business process services provider should lay out your key objectives, anticipate any risks, and outline exactly what you wish to hand over to a business process services provider, all of which needs to be articulated in a request for proposal (RFP) that’s shared with a short list of qualified vendors.
Risk management reduces bumps
You can’t avoid risk when partnering with another business. Engaging in a well-thought out risk management exercise when choosing a business process services provider will minimize headaches down the road.
The risks involved when outsourcing processes and workflows vary depending your industry and how your organization is structured. For bigger companies with multiple business units, handing over a single process such as data entry to a third party won’t likely expose it to a great deal of risk. For smaller organizations, however, the process under consideration may be more integral to overall operations and product and service delivery.
No matter what, the most common risks are data breaches, either through employee error or hacking, non-local employees, quality control, maintaining strategic alignment, political instability when processes are moved offshore, and changes in technology.
Because many business process services providers have operations offshore, many risks will also involve geography, political climate, and cultural climate. Your risk management strategy should focus on four key areas:
- Security: Choosing a business process service provider also means new connections between your information systems and theirs via Internet communications. This introduces security and privacy risks.
- Communication: You will get the most value cost-wise when you work with a provider with offshore operations, so be prepared for language barriers that might affect your transition of processes, feedback and customer service.
- Underestimating costs: Remember there are other costs involved beyond those related to the workflows you’re handing. Be ready to pay for upgrades costs, renegotiated contracts, as well as the time and money you need to select a provider. Layoffs, internal changes with your organization, and upgrades to software and hardware that support the processes on your side are all things that can affect the overall cost, among others.
- Becoming too dependent: Your business process services provider can quickly become integral to your workflows, which means your delivery of products and services can be affected by their internal challenges, such as staff shortages.
Just because you’re handing over business processes to a partner doesn’t mean there’s no work for you to do related to these operations. You must commit time and resources to manage the relationship.
As a managed IT services provider, proactive risk management is table stakes for Supra ITS, and we bring the same rigorous approach to our business process services practice. As a vendor of record with the Government of Ontario and thoroughly vetted for the government’s security requirements, Supra ITS has developed a comprehensive set of information security policies and procedures which meet or exceed the government’s IT standards. These standards have been audited to comply with ISO: 27001 standards.
Our business process services practice comprises a North American team with deep business knowledge, analysts, supervisors, data entry operators, managers and IT support teams, all of whom are Supra ITS employees. By have a single point of contact to steer governance, we’re able to keep lines of communication clear avoid any surprises such as unexpected costs or sudden staff shortages.
Pick a provider who can grow with you
A good business process services provider will stay away from your core business processes and help you decide which workflows make the most sense to for them to take on in alignment with your business cases. They will see you as a partner, not just a customer.
Supra ITS has expanded its business process services offerings through its FleetGain brand because we saw a desire from existing customers to offload back office processes to a partner with a team that understands its role in improving productivity and the bottom line. We see business process services as just the beginning of broader, long-term relationship with organizations looking to improve their agility as part of their digital transformation.
Terry Holland is Director, Logistics and Supply Chain Services for Supra ITS.
- September 20, 2019
Business process services is more than just about saving money. It can play a key role in establishing the IT agility that’s necessary for successful digital transformation.
By handing over repetitive tasks and workflows to a third party, including data-centric processes, business process services enable organizations and their IT teams to focus on more strategic initiatives, knowing they can scale as needed. They can easily and cost-effectively adjust based on the ebb and flow of their business without overprovisioning people and resources that could end up being idle.
Many processes are candidates
Businesses in any industry, no matter their size, can take advantage of business process services, including finance and insurance, transportation, health care, and even public sector organizations. This kind of service not only reduces costs, but also provides peace of mind that essential processes are getting done as the business focuses on its core products and service offerings as well as strategic initiatives on its digital transformation agenda.
A wide variety of workflows and business activities can be taken care of by business process services, including payroll, accounting, telemarketing, data recording, customer support and social media marketing. Some processes might be simple, while others more technical. Processes might take place in the front office, such as customer facing support, while back office processes that are often outsourced include billing or purchasing.
Business process services is a growth enabler
There are many benefits to business process services, not the least of which is reducing costs, but if you’re doing it strategically, you’re also fostering the IT agility necessary for digital transformation. Most of all you’re growing your business.
A common path to growth for many businesses is expanding their footprint at a regional, national or even global level. A business process services provider can reduce the investment and risk associated with serving multiple regions and time zones in multiple languages. A third-party is also able to scale up on demand more quickly in their business process services areas of expertise to support a company’s introduction of new products and services—they could easily add more customer support representatives, for example.
Just as your company has its core business offerings and expertise, so does a business process services provider, which means they can get quicker, more efficient and better results, as they have built up a track record of hiring specialists for specific workflows and processes. They can tap into the necessary talent and train new hires more quickly and effectively. They may also have expertise in regulatory framework and compliance obligations specific to certain industries.
As much as business process services offers more than just cost savings, it remains a chief benefit, as it lowers your internal labour costs, including the time and resources necessary for onboarding and training new employees, as well as office space. This is especially important for business processes that fluctuate in volume because of the seasonal ups and downs common in many industries.
Enable IT agility
Business process services relationships are often approached in a siloed manner in that processes and workflows are handed off on a case by case basis as means to save money.
While this approach does offer bottom line benefits, organizations should look at business process services to improve their IT agility and think bigger. As a managed IT services provider, Supra ITS isn’t content to just save customers money by taking over a workflow or two. We see our engagements as an opportunity to infuse key business activities with the technology levers that create IT agility.
As a Supra ITS company, FleetGain has expanded its offerings to deliver business process services with an initial focus on transportation companies. We provide offsite, extremely reliable and flexible data processing services, including order entry, billing, rating, POD entry and cube entry, coupled with experience using common transportation management systems, including popular transportation management systems such as TruckMate, Degama and Rose Rocket.
Transportation is just the beginning for business process services at FleetGain. We’re ready to work with a wide array of industries that want to hand of repetitive tasks so the can better focus on strategic initiatives. By looking at business process services as part of your larger digital transformation agenda, you can add significant value and direct business impact beyond the bottom line. Terry Holland is Director, Logistics and Supply Chain Services for Supra ITS.
- August 22, 2019
- Catagory Managed Cloud Services
Hybrid cloud environments are constantly evolving and today one cloud is no longer enough—diverse workloads mean you must be ready to embrace a multi-cloud model.
Whether it’s one, two or more of the public cloud such as Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle or Google, or turning to a managed IT services provider to help you leverage economies of scale, it’s likely you’re already facing the realities of multi-cloud, including the benefits and the challenges.
What is multi-cloud?
A hybrid cloud brings together an on-premise data center (a private cloud built on cloud technologies) with a public cloud, while multi-cloud brings together multiple cloud services from different providers, both public and private. In the same way organizations might have chosen a best-of-breed approach to their on-premise applications deployment, the multi-cloud paradigm allows for the selection of the best cloud provider for a given workload.
The multi-cloud model is driven in part by open source and the desire for organizations to leverage cloud technologies to best serve customers, suppliers, partners and even employees. Further accelerating the momentum of the multi-cloud is the ability to run services from providers such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) in a private data center thanks to Azure Stack and AWS Outposts. Add the ability to run VMware on AWS, and organizations can mix and match cloud services as much as they want to meet the specific requirements of any given workload.
The right cloud for the right workload
Like the best-of-breed approach to on-premise software applications, multi-cloud offers many benefits, including the ability to pick the right tool for the right job on a case by case basis, rather than just one provider that may excel on one capability while lacking robustness in others.
Similarly, it allows you to avoid being locked into a single cloud provider and take advantage of innovation from a variety of vendors, while also enjoying the flexibility and scalability you need as your business grows and your needs evolve. A multi-cloud strategy also gives you some measure of control, including cost governance, as public cloud strategy can sometimes cost more than a private cloud approach, depending on the workload.
More clouds, more challenges
Running a multi-cloud environment is not without its challenges, however. Not all clouds are equal and not all providers do things the same way. AWS and Microsoft Azure might offer the same service, but have different processes, so what the customer is responsible for on their side may differ depending on the provider.
Using a mix of cloud providers can add even more complexity to compliance and security too. Not only do you have to worry about your own data center being compliant with industry standards and regulatory frameworks such as privacy legislation, but you need to be certain your providers are up to snuff too by understanding all compliance requirements and creating the necessary policies.
While cloud providers may tout their security features, you still need to have the right in-house resources to manage application and workload security in a multi-cloud environment, which makes identifying and containing security threats even more complex. This includes securing connectivity across the multi-cloud environment—after all, data is the lifeblood of your business, and a multi-cloud environment means mean you need to securely and cost-effectively move data between one cloud provider and another, as well as to and from your own data center.
Get help with multi-cloud management
If you’ve already embraced the hybrid cloud, you’re in a good position to take advantage of multi-cloud. But as with all IT infrastructure demands, there’s a lot to be said for tapping the expertise of an experienced managed service provider to help you with some of the heaving lifting. They already have solid track record of managing, securing and optimizing multi-cloud environments, which enables you to focus on strategic initiatives without add more to your plate.
- July 25, 2019
- Catagory digital transformation
IT agility is a key element of successful digital transformation, and it means having the right people doing the right job. It may also mean not hiring a person, but a service provider instead.
Knowing when you should hire a full-time employee or when you should outsource an IT function requires a clear understanding of your IT strategy, what roles you have filled and what positions you’re missing. Most importantly, IT agility means recognizing that while some job titles haven’t changed, the work these people do day to day has changed over the years, and digital transformation will continue to influence the evolution of the IT department.
Digital transformation has redefined roles
Managing IT is a different job than it was decade ago, and digital transformation continues to spark changes to job descriptions, as well as the responsibilities of the entire IT team.
It’s no longer enough to keep the engine running. IT agility demands that you be more strategic and align with the organization’s overall business strategy while facing heavier workloads. In the late ’90s, a system administrator spent most of the their time supporting computer hardware and telecommunications for desktop users, but today a big part of the job is maintaining multiple endpoints, including user, access, and device policies, while also monitoring many physical and virtual environments, many of which are hosted in the cloud.
IT managers, meanwhile, are now tasked to do more than just develop and manage applications. They must also keep tabs on technologies around the corner that might deliver business value and justify their inclusion in the IT budget, as well as demonstrate how they can create competitive advantage. IT managers must also be more security focused than ever, and likely working with an IT security team, or even a Chief Security Officer (CISO).
And let’s not forget the CIO, a role that’s been on the rise the past 20 years and is probably the best example of how IT teams and jobs have evolved since the turn of the century. CIOs—and CISOs, as well—are spending more time in the C-suite, and their job has gone far beyond just keeping the lights on.
Support IT agility with automation
No matter what you’re called—CIO, CTO or IT director—your role is more dynamic and challenging than ever. You’re probably having to do more with less, including tackling a digital transformation agenda as well as keeping the organization secure.
Digital transformation involves some strategic thinking, but it also means you’re looking at how you can migrate away from legacy infrastructure to new technology systems that will be flexible and scalable over the longer term. It also means involves fostering cultural change.
To deliver value to the organization and keep it secure, IT leaders and their teams must be more agile. Developing IT agility means making the most of your staff and making sure they’re focused on strategic activities—not bogged down by repetitive tasks that can be automated. Automation enables you to get more done without adding to your headcount and can also give you some clarity as to what people need to be doing and what skills are needed to get the work done.
Having the right IT skills is a perennial problem, and a lack of skills, especially around security, puts an organization at risk. Filling the skills gap is a priority for any leader as it’s necessary for meeting their digital transformation goals as well as maintaining compliance in increasingly regulated business environments thanks to legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Ideally, IT agility feeds itself—as you become more agile and identify where you need to improve, your team becomes more empowered to tackle new problems and come up with creative solutions.
The competitive advantage of “people on demand”
Beyond automating things people shouldn’t be and addressing the skills gaps in your IT team, you need to think about what might be done outside of the organization more cost-effectively.
Given your strategic goals including your digital transformation efforts, do you really want your IT staff trouble shooting end user problems? Do you want your IT people worried about keeping toners in copiers or the printers from being hacked? Can you afford to pay a premium to keep a database administrator on staff when they may be idle half the week?
Just as you’re able to scale up computing on demand via the cloud, you can complement your in-house team with part-time talent on-demand to achieve the IT agility necessary to push your digital transformation agenda forward.
Sanjeev Spolia is CEO of Supra ITS.