If your company is ready to start its next application development project or expand into a new market, it’s a good time to evaluate what your IT environment looks like. By doing this, you can determine where additional computing resources may be needed and where other adjustments should be made. For companies that rely on cloud computing services this process includes evaluating Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) resourced, and Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) options. Together these cloud computing services make up a shared pool of computing resources—from servers to applications to services, depending on the model— accessible via the internet. Those resources are highly scalable and can be rapidly acquired as needed. (Source: PWC).
Organizations looking to drive efficiencies and continue down a path of digital transformation need first to evaluate what cloud services they’re deploying, what’s compatible, and what’s next for the organization in terms of meeting their growth targets and business objectives. Here are three critical questions IT leaders should ask themselves to evaluate their cloud services.
- How much scalability do we need? If a company is looking to drive company growth, they may need additional IT infrastructure capacity fast. Companies can bolster their computing power by bumping up their IaaS services. The most prevalent example of an IaaS is AWS. It’s the underlying framework which software runs on as well as the skeleton of where PaaS and SaaS can be developed and deployed. For instance, for IaaS cloud services typically a customer manages applications, data, O/S, runtime, and middleware, and a cloud service provider is in charge of visualization, servers, storage, and networking. Typical for a PaaS scenario, enterprises focus on keeping applications and data in-house, and everything else is managed by the cloud provider. When delivered through AWS or Google cloud services, organizations have the ultimate flexibility and scalability to add resources and respond to changes in the business fast.
- Do we need an always-on development environment? For organizations focused on application development, it may be time to evaluate investments in PaaS cloud services. Favorite examples of PaaS environments include Microsoft Azure and the Google App Engine. These environments allow developers to focus entirely on building and deploying applications on a fully managed platform in the cloud. The underlying infrastructure is scalable, so developers have the flexibility to keep pace with growing demands. Developers can concentrate on going big, without having to worry about server management and configuration. The idea is that with a great PaaS environment a developer can stay more productive and agile by working without constraints and with access to multiple development languages and access to developer tools. A company may consider adding to its PaaS resources if they are adding a new line of business, or rolling out an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy. In either case, they’d need to increase their PaaS cloud services for more server capacity, storage, and networking options to track devices and process the data collected.
- How much time do I have to run the application in-house? Companies looking to optimize and automate processes across their organization may be using any number of applications to help. This could include CRM applications, ERP systems, automated billing systems, payment processing, or Business Intelligence (BI) applications. When looking at future planning, businesses need to determine if it makes sense to keep these applications running in-house, running in a data center, or buy directly from a cloud service provider who can run and maintain the systems and hardware. Take for instance the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution Microsoft Dynamics, which is used for all-in-one accounting and operations needs.
An organization may be considering moving their on-premise Microsoft Dynamics platform to the cloud for any number of reasons, such as freeing up internal resources or reducing the need to make capital investments to run the software. This can be done by boosting PaaS resources and leveraging Azure to host hardware, software, servers, storage, and other infrastructure components on behalf of the organization. Azure can host applications such as Dynamics and handle tasks including system maintenance, backup and resiliency planning. Another option is Dynamics 365 for Operations, which is a hybrid cloud development option that’s fully Microsoft-managed and subscription-based. Through this software-as-a-service model, organizations can expect a cloud-enabled intelligent business application to run in Microsoft-managed data centers (DCs) and customers have access to application lifecycle management (ALM), and more. This deployment option for Microsoft Dynamics, combines the power of both the cloud and the on-premises, delivering a hybrid cloud deployment that offers scalability, business continuity, and intelligence.
As companies look for ways to innovate while staying lean, cloud-based services are becoming a popular choice in replacing traditional in-house IT infrastructures that require large capital investments in servers, storage and networking to run them. You should start with a realistic baseline of what your IT infrastructure looks like today as you make plans for the future.