3 ways consumption IT makes your business smarter

Here are some important ways this approach to IT can help you achieve your business objectives quickly and successfully.

Public cloud adoption has accelerated over the past few years as enterprises have recognized that it offers a chance to move away from capital-intensive monolithic IT infrastructures and achieve improved agility. The cloud looked like the ideal choice for enterprises that wanted to quickly build applications and compete with modern, nimble Internet-scale companies.

But while it’s fair to say the public cloud has become the platform of choice for many high-growth companies, more recently enterprises have found that the cloud options they adopted just a year or two ago have not been the panacea they had hoped for. Many have found the cloud isn’t an ideal choice for certain workloads, such as those that are data- and compute-intensive or contain sensitive customer data.

The good news is solutions are now emerging that offer these enterprises both the advantages of the public cloud and the option to run workloads on premises, making it easier to protect sensitive data and avoid any latency issues associated with the cloud. These solutions allow companies to consume IT capacity as needed, save money by scaling IT resources up or down as the business needs them, and benefit from the helping hand of a trusted IT services organization.

As IT divisions move away from capital-intensive models and seek to be more responsive technology partners to the business side of their companies, a consumption-based approach promises to help them become more agile and gives them the expertise they need to achieve this strategy quickly and successfully. A move from buy-and-build IT in the traditional sense to consuming IT on premises with a Hybrid IT infrastructure brings some significant benefits.

Here are three key areas where adopting this approach can make your IT more efficient.

1. Optimizing your IT operations

In the past, launching a new IT project meant large upfront investments in hardware and software, or months spent getting a new system up and running and training employees. Now, IT departments want to be agile IT service providers for the business side of their companies, and they want to be able to consume IT capacity quickly, as they need it.

Trouble is, few IT departments are set up this way. According to an analysis by IDC, IT admin and operations staff spend the lion’s share of their time in any given week on such mundane tasks as software updates or troubleshooting technology problems. This leaves very little time to work on developing new projects that can drive the business forward.

Some IT managers are so busy that they have trouble keeping their equipment up to date. One manager I spoke with recently said he is running equipment that is 10 years old. He also said he had trouble finding the time to keep up with software updates and patches, and would sometimes find himself two or three software revs behind and out of support. Doing so can expose customers to risks, such as using an operating system that is no longer supported and does not have all the latest security updates installed.

Imagine a world where these routine, everyday headaches are taken care of by a trusted vendor that can offer you an end-to-end solution, with one monthly invoice based on your consumption and usage of IT. This service can include equipment maintenance, training and support for your IT staff, and help with your choice of on-premises servers. This team can also help you manage capacity or determine the best resources for you to tackle new business opportunities.

For example, let’s say you move from a proprietary database to an open source database. This can bring with it migration issues and other complexities. An outside vendor with proven expertise can put together a team that can help you with that migration. And as your equipment needs change over time, the same vendor can help you understand what equipment you need to update as you grow.

The idea is to get to business value faster. The vendor takes the day-to-day tasks off the plates of your IT staff, freeing them up to concentrate on projects that can generate revenue.

IT as a service: A guide to the critical business and technology practices enabling ITaaS, from using flexible IT partner resources to funding infrastructure as a service.

2. Understanding where to place workloads

To avoid risk and control costs, businesses need to understand their workload requirements prior to making platform decisions. When you get workload placement assistance from a trusted IT adviser, you can save money by learning how to avoid potential pitfalls. For example, many customers may not know they can have a "cloud-like" experience on premises with a comparable price and lowered risk, while retaining control and meeting cost constraints. Using both public and hosted private clouds can also help you avoid vendor lock-in and remain cloud neutral.

One reason to choose a cloud placement is rapid scalability. All too often, IT has to say no to lines of business due to lack of ready capacity. This leads the lines of business to adopt their own cloud solution, usually outside the control of the IT department. This is worrisome from both an IT security and cost perspective.

Now that there are modern alternatives like consumption-based IT on premises, you can set up an IT solution for a line of business much more rapidly. So, instead of the usual three- to four-month procurement cycle, you can now get IT capacity in a week or two. Best of all, you pay only for what you use, and the costs you incur are aligned with your business needs, so you don’t overspend.

According to a recent report, some 40 percent of organizations with public cloud experience say they have moved workloads located on public clouds back to their on-premises setups.

The kinds of applications being brought back in house are business-critical applications where latency or performance issues are concerns. Sometimes customers ask enterprises to pull certain workloads back because information placed in the cloud is deemed too sensitive to reside off premises. The three main drivers for bringing applications back on premises are performance, cost, and security—and often it is a mix of the three.

Other customers have reported unforeseen costs, such as the additional expenses involved in bringing workloads back from the cloud. Another unexpected problem reported by customers arises when they have placed a number of workloads in the cloud as part of a strategy to reduce the size of their IT footprint and they find they have nowhere to house those workloads once they decide to bring them back from the cloud.

3. Getting capacity planning just right with a pay-as-you-go model

In the old days of IT capacity planning, you’d measure your resource utilization, estimate how much you needed for the next few years, look at the applications your users employ every day, and then purchase the requisite servers, storage, and network equipment to cover that demand. Traditionally, IT departments have purchased for peak demands, resulting in extra capacity and overspending for most of the year.

IT managers had to make sure their strategy stayed ahead of the organization’s expansion needs, or ahead of sudden demand peaks that could overwhelm current systems. It was, of course, an impossible task. One customer I spoke with recently, a large cable and IT Internet provider, went silent when I asked about capacity planning in his IT organization. He acknowledged that he doesn’t do it proactively but as needed. Consequently, his team has hit a wall several times: “We don’t manage capacity well.”

Given that 59 percent of enterprises wait three months or longer for new capacity to come online, according to 451 Research, it’s not surprising that many IT leaders face capacity issues. By the time they’ve figured out the amount they need for one scenario, their requirements may have changed, potentially leading to money spent on unneeded capacity or, worse, a lack of capacity for a much needed new opportunity. Indeed, 451 Research's survey found that 50 percent of enterprises have suffered downtime due to poor capacity planning.

There’s a better way to do this. With a pay-as-you-go approach to IT, companies work with an IT provider to determine their current computing capacity needs and continually plan for future capacity requirements.

For example, the IT provider will typically have a briefing with the customer and determine a baseline need. Next, it will establish a web-based dashboard of analytics and controls showing the capacity used by the enterprise in real time, with detailed insight into peaks and troughs of demand, whether that’s monthly or quarterly, and provide a buffer of capacity for periods of high demand—such as the launch of a new marketing campaign or days of seasonal increase.

Such a detailed scrutiny of your IT use minimizes waste and allows for rapid scalability and flexibility. And you can practically eliminate overprovisioning. According to 451 Research, the HPE Flexible Capacity solution can cut total compute infrastructure capacity costs by as much as 38 percent compared with the industry average.

Supporting your changing business needs

To succeed in an increasingly competitive business environment, IT departments need to become flexible and responsive providers of services to the overall business. A consumption-based IT approach can put you in the best position to achieve flexibility and responsiveness, while securing the most effective use of cloud and on-premises solutions for your workloads.

IT when you need it: Lessons for leaders

  • A consumption-based approach to IT means everyday headaches such as software updates and staff training are provided by a trusted vendor that can offer you an end-to-end solution with one monthly invoice based on your usage of IT services.
  • To avoid unwanted risk and to control costs, it’s vital to understand workload requirements prior to making platform decisions. A trusted IT adviser can help you determine the best places to locate each of your workloads.
  • With a pay-as-you-go approach to IT, companies work with an IT provider to determine their computing capacity needs and plan for future capacity requirements while saving a lot of money.
  • Implementing a consumption-based approach requires choosing the right partner, one that understands the best place to place specific workloads, knows how to optimize IT, and can implement a pay-as-you-go capacity approach so you have the right environment for your needs today and tomorrow.
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