10 Questions with VI’s Patrick McCarthy
Patrick, this has been an exciting year for VI so far, what are some of the highlights?
We have been really busy this year. We have seen our operation expand, achieve our ISO 9001 and 27001 accreditations, added an OnApp cloud to complement our existing VMware platforms which have also grown in size.
One of the key highlights was the completion of our new 10,000 square foot Canning Town Datacentre, which means we are now able to offer cost effective colocation to our product range.
In basic terms, how would you describe cloud computing?
Cloud computing is a new way of delivering the IT services that we’ve already been consuming; it’s a utilisation model like gas and electricity.
Traditionally, offices have had a server room, a mini datacentre, where they host the company’s website, content management, CRM systems, email, pretty much everything employees do on their computers gets backed up to their office servers. Maintaining this sort of infrastructure can be incredibly complex and time consuming for an IT department and costs money in terms of maintenance and utility bills. Then there’s the added issue that when a company expands, more servers will be needed to accommodate the additional workloads. And if the company shrinks, well then you have servers that are not running at max capacity but still costing you money.
With cloud computing you can move the responsibility for IT services to a third-party provider, who are experts in their field, freeing up your time to focus on your company’s core mission, and you access your applications, platforms, and systems via the Internet.
What are the trends and drivers around cloud computing?
Who ultimately determines IT strategy for businesses today? Well, from what we see it’s mostly a company’s customers and then their internal users.
With the consumerisation of IT, people don't want to go to central IT where their request may be rejected or take a long time to execute. These days they can buy cloud services themselves, like Base Camp for instance, and bypass Central IT
Cloud offers benefits that include subscription-based pricing, plus the flexibility to grow with your business. It decreases your capital outlay and frees up your time to focus on your core business objectives.
Often businesses can accelerate their go to market with new products and services and expand geographically thanks to the cloud-computing model. This is particularly true for small to medium businesses.
So to sum up, cloud is more efficient, more flexible, and more powerful than what the average business can create in-house. For these reasons, the momentum on cloud is really picking up.
What are some common concerns you hear from IT managers regarding cloud?
IT professionals are often concerned about the security aspect of cloud. Keeping data private and secure is a valid concern and should really be addressed on a case by case basis as it’s very much application specific.
Ask your cloud supplier questions like whether they’re financially sound, their network security and compliance, do they have accreditations like the ISO 27001 which is the international best practice for an Information Security Management System? Will your data be on a shared infrastructure with other users – it’s more secure to have you data segregated by virtualisation.
The other concern I often hear is that of lack of control. The cloud is essentially built on networks, so if you understand networks and how to harness them, then you’ll feel comfortable with the level of control cloud offers.
That said, another great thing about cloud is its resiliency. Cloud provides failover so should one server or an entire cloud go down, there’s enough redundant capacity that users often won’t even require any downtime.
Will a move to the cloud make the IT department less relevant?
You can’t ignore cloud computing, this is the cloud era and the only question is not IF organisations are going to utilise cloud, it’s more a matter of how fast.
Often IT is perceived as a barrier to getting things done, but if the IT department is open to cloud adoption, it suddenly becomes the facilitator of rapid delivery. Cloud has the capabilities to make IT more agile as a department.
We’ve seen instances where other departments within an organisation will purchase a cloud computing solution without consulting IT, because their IT department can’t accommodate a request due to limits on time and resource. This can have serious repercussions in terms of security for an organisation.
If the IT department embraces cloud, they could find they have a lot more visibility into how other departments within there business are using it, and can be a more active part of the decision making process. This makes more sense than having departments bypass IT in order to get their needs met.
That said, traditional IT discipline will always have a place in business. There is still hardware to be fixed, governance policies that need to be instituted and policed, capacity and performance planning that needs to be done etc.
How does cloud let businesses do things in new ways?
Cloud provides best-in-class capabilities removing the pressure on IT to invest in people and technologies to become the best themselves. It also gives small and medium businesses access to services that they would be unlikely to develop in house due to resource and budget constraints.
Is cloud for everyone?
The simple answer is yes! It is for everyone, but not for everything. A good hosting provider will be work to understand your unique needs, explain what’s available, and recommend a solution that will work for your business in the long term.
We’re currently seeing SMBs moving much quicker to cloud-based models because they would have to invest heavily on an internal strategy otherwise.
When is cloud not an option?
It’s not a good option if you need something hosted locally, or there are government regulations that restrict where you can store data, or if you have something that’s incredibly data-intensive in which case sometimes dedicated servers can be a better choice.
Can cloud really save you money?
Yes it can. While cloud can deliver cost savings, the real benefit is the resiliency it offers as well as the flexibility.
Thanks for your time Patrick, one more question.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 items would be essential to your happiness?
It would have to be my wife, my son and my daughter. I count that as three. Also, I absolutely love the outdoors and adventure, so being stuck on an island would make me very happy indeed.*
* This is a Caribbean island right and not somewhere like the Falklands.
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