Forbes: eGroup Solutions: the cloud is in vogue, but you need to consider in what form it is worthwhile for the company

According to Štefan Orosz, vice chairman of the board of eGroup Solutions, a. s., cloud technologies help companies reduce costs, but not thoroughly considered move can cause more harm than good.

Is the cloud the best solution for a company that wants to optimize its costs?

Having your IT services in the modern cloud brings many benefits. The cloud helps to increase competitiveness, improve work productivity, and optimize costs. It is therefore natural that any manager looking for a new way to reduce costs will sooner or later come across the benefits of cloud solutions, which are interesting at first sight. We often see an initial huge enthusiasm and desire to move all the activities of companies to the cloud. One of the critical issues of operating in the cloud can be data protection, so for many companies, it is sometimes more advantageous to keep at least part of the IT services still in their own data centers or server rooms. Services that require flexibility and availability are particularly suited to the cloud. 

So, for who is it appropriate to use the cloud, and who should stay in their own data center?

Many variables go into the decision to stay or move IT services to the cloud in any business. In general, it's important to look at IT utilization. When a business is built on it, such as with online sales for large e-commerce stores, the use of the cloud makes sense. Similarly, if you need stable connectivity, fast service, or connectivity from many parts of the world, going to the cloud may be a good idea. Conversely, a manufacturing company, for example, should thoroughly consider a complete move to the cloud. When its IT systems are only related to production, it needs to build extremely fast and secure lines, even if data is only exchanged between machines. The move could make the company's processes and operations dysfunctional or prove ineffective in terms of investment and overall benefit. On the other hand, it might turn out that it can indeed locate part of its operations in the cloud. It is important to evaluate the cost/performance ratio. From our experience, we recommend trying a hybrid cloud, i.e., keeping some information systems in the data center and moving some to the cloud. 

So, on what basis to decide?

The most important thing is to work out the analysis, the project and to think through the architecture well. I compare it to the energy industry. The building of solar panels on the roofs of houses is experiencing a boom like the cloud boom we are experiencing now. How did people proceed? They probably didn't immediately throw out the boilers, bought panels willy-nilly, and started generating electricity. First, they considered whether they lived in an area with plenty of sunshine, called an expert who advised them on what to buy, perhaps installed it, and recommended heating only the conservatory. Here it works similarly.  A thorough analysis is essential, you should know the capabilities and limitations of cloud solutions. Only then choose an appropriate strategy for moving to the cloud. For example, the IT manager should know whether he or she can use the cloud efficiently, optimize costs and achieve the highest possible work productivity, ensure an outage-free move, and how to achieve disaster recovery. 

Could you give a specific example? 

Many larger companies in Slovakia run the SAP ERP system on the IBM Power platform. These companies operate in areas where they cannot afford a service outage and need fast recovery after a disaster. So, let's say they use two data centers in case one has a disaster outage. Reducing their operating costs and optimizing their human resources is a hot topic these days. We would recommend each of these companies migrate to a new version of SAP ERP with a new database and migrate at least one data center to the cloud, which would lead to significant savings. 

The easiest way is to use IBM Public Cloud, the most secure and open public cloud for business. At the same time, large companies are particularly looking for hybrid cloud solutions and services that meet their business, regulatory and legislative requirements. Up to 80% of their most important workloads - from supply chains to core banking systems - are not yet in the cloud. Hybrid cloud is fast becoming the dominant force driving change in the industry. IBM is investing heavily in this area. Together with Red Hat, it has completely transformed its portfolio to give clients the unique ability to build mission-critical applications and run them anywhere.

What happens after a company decides to use a cloud solution? 

It should answer the question of how it will operate the IT services. Cloud data and related IT services need professionals who specialize in this work. They have years of work and experience under their belt that cannot be quickly refined the moment a problem arises. They can also help in cases where everything cannot be moved to the cloud, i.e., hybrid IT environments. They need to have experience not only running in the cloud but also on-premises IT infrastructure. This takes the pressure off the corporate IT managers, who do not have to deal with all the technologies in the infrastructure but can focus with their IT experts on what their own company needs the most, that specific know-how. Moreover, in the event of a serious failure, they are not on their own to deal with it, they have the support of experienced experts.  

Why should they team up with an external supplier?

A company migrates to the cloud only once and is no longer involved in the process. Its IT managers can focus on the specifics of the company's business and develop those. We intensively address the topic of moving to the cloud and are always looking for new ways to improve and refine the process. For example, we have developed the Zero Downtime Center product, which allows you to have IT under control. It's a set of tools to help the IT manager always have understandable and relevant information to support decision-making, which is also of interest to the CEO. 

Imagine that all IT systems in operation are optimally distributed in a cloud and on-premises infrastructure, at optimal operating costs for hardware and software infrastructure, with minimal downtime and with a disaster recovery solution ready within "hours". Imagine happy customers or internal users who are not grumbling that something is not working as it should again, and if the CEO needs to provide a new service to customers or support a new product or introduce a more productive process, he knows that the IT department is sufficiently prepared to implement these new requirements at short notice. We truly believe this can be achieved.

Source: Forbes

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