Parting the Clouds to Do Business

IaaS — The information technology department tends to gravitate to this model as they experience less overhead using an infrastructure hosted by a third party. In doing so, the department is also able to dedicate more time to monitoring and running the actual services that drive the business.

PaaS — Developers tend to like these types of services because they can spend more time developing and troubleshooting services and little time focusing on the underlying infrastructure.

SaaS — Information workers tend to adopt SaaS services rather willingly. After all, they have the opportunity to work with the latest software when, in the past, the costs may have been prohibitive. In addition, SaaS may also offer information workers the opportunity to work with software they may already be familiar with.

How can the cloud be used to improve business? The answer depends on the service. For example, when using SaaS for learning and development, more time can be dedicated to sourcing, managing and delivering content, and less time to developing content. This enables the organization to use its people resources for more revenue-generating activities.

In terms of IaaS and PaaS, the development and IT staffs can shift more of their time toward developing better services for the business and offering better support to information workers.

What are the first steps for using the cloud? First, start talking about it. Look at current processes and systems to see what the business’ needs are. Then, see which portions the organization would be comfortable using the cloud for initially.

Speak with the chief information officer to see what his or her road map is and how the opportunities assessed in the first step fit into the overall plan.

Poll the organization to get a sense of what features and options employees would like to use, and see where they align with the opportunities from the first step.

Start asking more questions of cloud providers. Each provider offers different models and services, some of which may be variations or hybrids of the IaaS, SaaS and PaaS models.

Along with these, they each have their own strategy regarding cost, security and implementation. It is very important to be fully aware of the providers’ strategies to avoid headaches down the road.

— Johnathan Lightfoot