How to Strategically Consume Technology

Hate it or love it, the way businesses consume technology is changing. Pretty much every business need can now be met with “as a service (aaS)” delivery from the cloud. Software as a Service = SaaS. Platform as a Service = PaaS. Infrastructure = IaaS. Information Technology = ITaaS. You get the idea. But does this mean that traditional on-premises IT is going away? Not necessarily.

Cloud services today are consumed in more ways than are typically recognized. Cloud is more than just file sharing or building environments for applications. It is a shift of mundane responsibilities to external entities, which means the IT department can be freed up to pursue more exciting projects. However, on-premises infrastructure doesn’t completely go away, which is leading many organizations down a path of “hybrid cloud” although a more encompassing term is “hybrid IT.”

If you find yourself in this situation, the question is, do you have a strategy in place to consume all these cloud services in conjunction with your on premise infrastructure? If not, you need one.

A Strategic Approach to Hybrid Cloud

The premise of “Hybrid IT” is designed to address the challenge of integrating cloud services with legacy services and hardware. Many companies are taking an ad hoc approach to this integration, which may not lead to the efficiencies they expect.

GTRI has developed a comprehensive approach to hybrid IT including an in-depth analysis of existing systems and viable cloud-based alternatives. Below is a simple graph that we use during our process to help businesses define a strategy to optimize their technology use to their strategic initiatives.

We measure the impact of an application or service with two variables, criticality and differentiation. Criticality simply means how mandatory the application/service is to run the business. Differentiation is defined as what makes a company stand out from the rest of the market.

Starting at the bottom left, offerings with low criticality and low differentiation should be outsourced. Do whatever is possible to minimize, reduce or offload these applications because they take up valuable time that could be better utilized to create the next big thing or augment resources to other areas that need the attention.

Moving to the bottom right quadrant, with a high level of criticality but low differentiation, these applications would be great candidates for a SaaS type offering. What this means is a business simply needs to consume these services and not have to worry about managing the background noise that comes with it. A great example is email. Every business needs email for correspondence and communication, but being really good at running email servers does nothing to help a business thrive or expand its market share. It simply must happen because the downside of no email is crippling.

The top left quadrant, highly differentiable but low criticality, is a great candidate for the public cloud. Application development is what stands out here. Something that will make a business stand out from the rest of the pack, but not quite ready for production could go here. It is cheaper than running an on-premise environment, and whatever latency occurs is not crucial because the application is not in production.

But there still needs to be a deliberate process. As easy as it is to go to aws.amazon.com and buy cloud services with the swipe of a credit card, ensuring there is a secure tunnel from a companies’ secure environment to the cloud is necessary. The time will come for the developmental application to go into production, and depending on the deployment model, moving the application will be part of that process.

This leads into the last quadrant: highly differentiable and highly critical. This, in a nutshell, is the main part of the business and where most efforts should be focused. “Mandatory” is the term used because these offerings affect daily operations. Different models can be taken to address these based on the use case, such as deciding between on-premise versus a hybrid model.

Looking at the entire chart, think of it as a clock. The mandatory tasks required to operate the business can eventually be normalized and placed into a consumption model, which moves it to the SaaS quadrant. As new technology arises and cannibalizes some offerings, applications can be offloaded entirely, moving to the reduce/exit quadrant. Innovation constantly occurs in the top left quadrant to either accomplish tasks in a new way or create entire new applications to affect business functionality. Once these applications are ready for deployment/production, they move from the public cloud quadrant to mandatory.

Utilizing the above strategy, companies can optimize their efforts to consume technology in meaningful ways that help a business grow and stay flexible.

Want to know more about GTRI’s approach to hybrid IT? Feel free to contact me at sbierwirth@gtri.com or 303-327-7604.

Scott Bierwirth is an Enterprise Sales Account Executive for GTRI.