Looking outwards and inwards in the 4th Industrial Revolution
Ever since th first big banks started investing in large mainframe computers the concept of bringing computing power inhouse was a non-discussion point. Large organisations realised the benefits of computing power and enterprises across the globe spent billions of dollars on which now is the first in-house data centres. It’s the year 2020 and the Hyperspale data centres have landed…Is there still space for that traditional server-room or in-house data centre in the 4th Industrial Revolution?
A Big Vision
When the young Bill Gates and Paul Allan, founders of Microsoft, dreamt big with their vision of ‘a computer on every desk and in every home’ they heralded the era of Micro Computing.
Whilst the Microsoft Operating System and later Office Productivity tools put the power in the hands of the common information worker, the in’house data centre and later common ‘server-room’ in smaller and micro-enterprises grew not just out of popularity but with masses of data being produced on-every-desk data centres and server rooms became a mission critical necessity.
Banks, Mining companies and Manufactures did what they were good at, but the reliance on the IT infrastructure and associated business applications meant that there was a new sherriff in town. The IT Manager.
Whether in conjunction with OEM manufacturer staff in the enterprise space or as a lone ranger in the smaller business, the IT Manager grew from obscurity, often sitting in highly airconditioned low-light server rooms to now permanently occupying a seat at the boardroom table.
Things Are Moving Fast
Fast forward a few decades and we suddenly find ourselves in a position where a highly spec’d server ‘almost’ becomes old news as it’s removed form its packaging. Call it hosting, call it IT-hardware outsourcing, the rise in both the speed and stability of the internet connections meant that IT Managers and CIO’s could start moving non-critical business applications such as storage and later websites to off-site hosting providers.
As processors grew in strength, virtualisation, albeit at the in-house datacentre or on the high-end Laptop, became common business practice. In fierce competition, OEM’s deliver the bigger, the faster, the next-generation and business world kept on wanting more of computing is at the core of what sets companies apart in the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Why buy an maintain a server when you can rent a server? Why upgrade a memory-chip physically when you can increase processing power only when your business needs it?
Why invest in big-ticket business applications, maintain the database and application servers to run these applications, when you can simply ‘subscribe’ to these applications and get everything(hardware and software plus maintenance and monitoring) in a simple per-user-per-month subscription? The era of cloud computing is upon us.
Looking Inwards – 100% Cloud, 100% In-house or Hybrid?
In planning a move to the cloud, a CIO has many factors to consider.It is our belief that it’s an unfair task to exprect a CIO to deliver on a migration strategy or even considering a migration stategy without addressing the key challenges of cost and connectivity.
From a cost perspective, investments in local data centres do not come in as a cheap operational expense. Data centres, both large and small, are typically big OPEX projects and wiping these assets from the balance sheet does not make for comfortable boardroom banter.
A key consideration remains the availability of high-speed connectivity. With continued investment in undersea cables, adjustments in radio spectrum availability and the roll-out of 4G/5G and fibre infrastructure, the availability of improved connectivity is accelerating many companies move towards cloud infrastructure.
As such, a pragmatic approach towards cloud migration can drive both financial and operational benefits.
“The more complex the workloads and the bigger the current on-premise data centre is, the bigger the likelihood that a hybrid deployment will be best business practice. ” – Nick Botha_Managing Director@ 4sight Dynamics Africa
Cloud Migration Checklist – with Microsoft Azure
When assessing these checklist otems, the outcome to the question of 100% Cloud or 100% on-premise or Hybrid is essentially answered.
The more complex the workloads and the bigger the current on-premise data centre is, the bigger the likelihood that a hybrid deployment will be best business practice. If yu are a small to mid-market organisation a complete cloud-based infrastructure can easily be achieved.
Whilst no two businesses are the same, we believe these checklist items will add value to any migration project:
- Identify and involve all stakeholders.
- Create a strategic plan.
- Calculate total cost of ownership.
- Discover and asses on premise applications.
- Find the right partner to support your migration process.
- Build your internal team’s skills.
- Pilot your migration with low complexity workloads.
- Migrate the remaining workloads.
- Decommission existing on-premise infrastructure.
- Optimise and manage the migrated workloads.
5 Quick Wins – With Microsoft Azure In The Cloud
With applications such as Microsoft Office 365, the total cost of ownership of a hosting exchange is an absolute no-brainer. Add to that the software subscription for Microsoft’s business productivity tools, maintaining an on-premise email maintenance server is so 1999!
Storage in the cloud is inexpensive and many ties, even for mission critical business applications, the 1st step to the cload could be as easy as ensuring database replication in the cloud.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) was one of the front runners in the Enterprise business applications group to have comfortably made the move to be 100% cloud based. Customer Engagement applications are now almost exclusively sold as SaaS applications. If your organisation’s business processes are documented, engage a cloud specialist CRM partner to assist with a data-migration process.
If you are surprised to see Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) listed as a quick cloud win, don’t be. ERP applications have all gradually introduced web-based front ends and the complete migration to cloud was only a matter of time. Many large ERP vendors now offer Cloud Based ERP as the norm.
Traditionally ERP deployments were costly affairs and if that rings true for you, hybrid Cloud ERP deployment is also an option. Host your ERP Application Server; host your ERP Database server; allow user access to the web-client. The cost of running a Virtual Machine (VM) compared to the cost of an on-premise physical server makes for an interesting dicussion.
I am sure everyone has found memories of that old ‘file-server’. The proverbial dumping-ground where employees would store Microsoft Office Word and Excel Documents, sales proposals, and customer contacts. In terms of backup, storage accounts in the cloud have become completely commoditised with 1TB of storage selling for as little as $5 per month.
On-Premise vs Cloud Computing
Software licence fees are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the measurement of the total cost of ownership of a solution.
- Software Licensing Cost
- Customisation & Implementation
- IT Personnel
On- Premises Ongoing Costs
- Apply patches & upgrades
- Performance tuning
- Rewrite customisation
- Rewrite integrations
- Upgrade dependant applications
- Ongoing burden on IT(Hardware)
- Maintain/ upgrade security
- Maintain/upgrade database
- Subscription Fees
- Implementation Customisation & Training
Cloud Computing ongoing costs
- Subscription Fees
- System administration
When comparing SaaS-applications to traditional on-premise business applications it’s important to incorporate the on-premise elements that are automatically included with SaaS based applications. From a Hardware perspective elements include Server and Backup power supply; electricity consumption; air-conditioning fees; Physical security and IT support employee costs.
Where to now?
The move to the cloud, or as a first step; hybrid cloud can seem to be a daunting process. In a complex IT environment there are many things to consider.
Do you need…
- Total visibility of your ICT landscape?
- Insights into how much you are spending?
- To optimise your spend and consumption?
If you have answered YES to any of the questions above, the time is NOW to assess your ICT landscape. Through an ICT solution assessment you can and should get visibility into:
- Software licencing: What am I paying for and be sure that you are not over-licenced?
- Stratigic areas you should be incesting in. Maybe security should the first priority?
- Based on what I have, what can be optimised and improved?
- And ultimately, how can I, cost effectively move this to the cloud?