Operating IT at the Speed of Innovation

Cloud Communications

Operating IT at the Speed of Innovation

By Special Guest
Curtis Peterson, SVP of cloud operations at RingCentral
  |  July 11, 2017

The year 2017 is in full swing, and the question of whether or not businesses should move their on-prem IT workloads to the cloud has long been answered. (It's an unequivocal yes).

And we’re seeing encouraging signs that an uptick in the pace of this shift is afoot: A recent McKinsey survey found that while 77 percent of enterprises relied on traditionally built IT infrastructure as the primary environment for at least one workload in 2015, this number is predicted to fall to 43 percent by 2018. That’s a promising anticipated drop for those of us who are passionate cloud advocates.

Even so, I can vouch for the fact that many enterprises are still dragging their feet onto the cloud. In my role as RingCentral (News - Alert)'s senior vice president of cloud platform, I regularly talk to Fortune 500 companies in the financial, transportation, and hospitality markets that are just beginning to think about moving parts of their businesses off prem.

But those that continue to run their IT applications on prem increasingly put themselves at peril. Why? Because rapidly evolving technologies have quickened the pace of change in the business world exponentially over the last few years, radically altering the role of IT departments. It no longer makes sense for  companies to devote internal resources to developing – and updating – applications that don’t directly enhance their revenues, brands, or value for shareholders. To stay competitive, today's companies need to be laser focused on using their in-house resources only on efforts that enhance the value of the product or service they are selling. Everything else (document storage, ERP, HR, CRM, and UC services, as examples) should flow out to the cloud, because in this environment you can no longer keep up with the breakneck pace of innovation.

This is why we’ll continue to see a rise in IT workloads, in particular, move to the cloud. The lack of cloud talent in house and lower TCO costs to run IT workloads off prem will be key factors driving the broader adoption of managed cloud offerings going forward. Add to that the cloud's status as a lower-cost option with more flexibility, scalability, and reliability (and in most cases better security) than on prem, and the benefits are even clearer. Simply put, moving these workloads frees up internal resources to focus on rapid innovation that directly benefits the company at the same time that non-revenue workloads are also rapidly improved independently – by the cloud vendors serving that company.

So what’s the best way forward for those thinking about a move? Start with these two steps.

Define the right migration strategy for your organization.

Gone are the days when essential business functions were bound to their wiring, and everything had to move when the wires did. Back then, if a company needed to replace its PBX (News - Alert) system, the entire IT staff would descend on the office for a sleepless weekend to swing thousands of phones to the new system. There just wasn’t any other option.

In the (kinder, gentler) cloud world, options abound. Companies can conduct pilot trials where they move just one division to the cloud. They can run trials by attraction, where business units most eager to transition migrate first. Some companies want to start migration at their headquarters, but for others it makes more financial sense to begin at the branches.

Others prefer a big bang migration, which the cloud enables with the huge added benefit of being able to test the new system before the old one is unplugged. The flexibility of cloud solutions – both in the technology and in the service contracts – makes migrations much easier than they used to be, and as an IT manager you can craft the best-fit strategy for your organization.

Choose a vendor that will assist from initial contact to post-deployment.

The rise of cloud technology and its accompanying as-a-service model have done a decent job of weeding out vendors that abandon customers’ post-sale. That said, bad partners still exist. A good vendor should accommodate the migration strategy that’s best for your business, and ideally also serve as a valuable sounding board for what that might be.

Do your due diligence before signing a contract by researching the vendor’s domain expertise and the credentials of its sales, professional services, and management teams. When it comes to implementation, a good vendor will extend customer care throughout the process, tracking usage after rollout to ensure it’s been a success and staying engaged, particularly in the crucial 120-day window after deployment.

Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, put it succinctly when he said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” The cloud has always been about drawing out inefficiencies internally to push progress forward. The companies that haven’t yet gotten on board would do well to capitalize on that very opportunity.

Edited by Alicia Young
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