In an ideal world, IT departments would be given as much budget as is required to achieve the business’s technology objectives. In fact, in an even more ideal world, IT departments would have more budget to invest in technology to help meet line-of-business objectives, too. But anyone who’s worked in IT for a long time will know that the mantra of ‘doing more with less’ is pretty much par for the course these days.
For argument’s sake, though, let’s say you’re the very fortunate IT manager of a company that is willing to pour as much money as is necessary into the IT department. Imagine what you could build with a blank cheque – probably something pretty amazing, right?
But what if we told you that you could have an advanced, scalable, reliable infrastructure without needing limitless budget? You simply need to let go of the on-premise mindset.
This mindset came about with the rise of enterprise computing, particularly when Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems really hit their stride in the 1980s. The idea was simple – you’d build out an advanced technology system on your own premises (at great expense and trouble), and at the end of a two-year implementation period, the efficiency gains would make up for the initial disruption to the business. The big enterprise IT players flourished, despite the fact that both IT and business leaders on the end-user side saw these implementations as major headaches. That’s because there was no other option – if you wanted to invest in superior technology (and superior business operations as a result), you’d simply have to take that hit.
Today, major IT implementations still carry on in much the same way. Sure, systems integrators and vendors work more closely with the end user to reduce business disruption and time to completion, but anyone who’s completed an IT project will know that the process is still far from easy.
In fact, on-premise infrastructures are inherently difficult to scale. Even with an unlimited budget, your scale would depend not only on the physical space you have available to expand your data center, but also with the appetite among business stakeholders to go through time consuming and labor intensive upgrade projects. At some point, enough will be enough.
But when you let go of the on-premise mindset, the amount of scale you can achieve is practically limitless. This is because, if you outsource your infrastructure to a cloud provider, the size of the infrastructure, which utilizes highly virtualized environments, can be practically limitless. Whenever you want to expand, you can simply call your cloud provider and ask them to provision extra capacity for your business. No disruption, no hidden costs, and no hassle.
Of course, you could argue that cloud providers are in the same boat as your average business. What is outsourced for a cloud provider’s customers is on-premise for the cloud provider, and upgrading that infrastructure will be just as time-consuming and difficult as it would be for the average enterprise. But there are two responses to this argument.
Firstly, as the customer, upgrades aren’t your problem anymore – it’s up to the cloud provider to ensure its data centers are properly scaled. And secondly, building out greater capacity is directly beneficial to the cloud provider’s business. Having more capacity simply means having more inventory in this case, meaning cloud providers are incentivized to scale as much as possible without disrupting existing clients’ infrastructures. It’s a win-win from the customer’s point of view.
Naturally, every large enterprise needs to have some aspect of its infrastructure on site. But if you drop the assumption that everything needs to be on-premise, you’ll realize just how much you can shift over to a cloud-based infrastructure – saving you time, money and headaches.