The Model for a Successful Enterprise Today Includes Embracing the Cloud

Enterprises gain agility and the ability to scale up and down with an investment in the cloud.Enterprises of the 20th century were accustomed to housing their infrastructure onsite, managing all aspects of IT and navigating changes in the market gradually. As cloud solutions become more widespread, it will help level the playing field and allow smaller, more agile companies to edge out bigger, lumbering enterprises.

CIOs are seeing the benefits of paying a subscription fee rather than investing in a big hardware spend. The frequent updates and advances in software applications mean that cloud solutions make sense for enterprises that want to stay competitive both in efficiency and in the customer experience.

Scalability is leveling the playing field. It used to be that only the biggest enterprises could enjoy the advantages of the best software, but subscriptions make it easy for small- and mid-size companies to access the same tools large enterprises are using. For any size business, subscriptions make a team more agile, able to scale up or down based on changes in the marketplace.

Enterprises — the finance department, in particular — love the subscription model of cloud options because the investment can be categorized as an operational expense, rather than a capital investment. The ability to scale up or down also lowers the fixed costs of the enterprise and makes it easier to adjust spending to accommodate demand.

Everything as a Service (XaaS) is now an option. While Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) have been in use for a long time, the growing service industry is also allowing for the growth of other service areas, including security management and managed services. The XaaS mindset is dominating conversations about digital transformation as executives weigh the benefits of housing more of their IT management with service providers.

The service economy has plenty of room for growth. The market is just entering a shift from “procure and maintain” to a full-service economy. Enterprises are embarking on plans to embrace XaaS models of completing business processes, but there is a lot of opportunity for service providers to capture growth in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Big Data analytics.

The shift to the service economy is evident across a variety of industries. Examples like car-sharing or pay-by-the-hour jet rental can be compared with companies in the financial arena sharing data management services.

If you’d like to capture new opportunities in the service economy, Focal Solutionscan help you. When you choose Focal Solutions as your trusted telecom partner, you are choosing to extend the range and value of your own IT team. Contact us today to learn more.

The CIO of Today Is in Charge of Transformation

CIOIt is the job of most CIOs today to make improvements toward virtualizing their data centers. The majority of CIOs are looking closer at deploying more cloud-based solutions, including those that will help protect their data, keeping it safe from cyberattacks.

IT Infrastructure
Of the many tasks at hand that are intended to help make an organization competitive and profitable, making sure your network is able to protect IT infrastructure is key. It is also critical to increase the ability of your infrastructure to function on a mobile level as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes an increasingly all-encompassing movement.

Automation
In many cases, the way networks are being examined in the corporate environment is evolving from being manual and labor intensive to functioning with more automation and consideration of the future needs of the organization. The network has to be able to keep up with the speed at which the IoT runs. An intent-based system with automation is the direction CIOs are progressively moving towards.

The problem that the average CIO has is that most networks are only made to automate what is known rather than adapt to all the unknowns that can occur on an average day (large companies will average 300-plus cybersecurity issues per week). The goal of software-defined networking (SDN) is to solve this issue, yet according to an analyst at TechTarget, less than 10 percent of enterprises have deployed such solutions.

The Future of SDN
Part of the initial problem with SDN for some CIOs involved the stumbles in the very beginning of its deployment, which led to skepticism among leaders. However, with its growing pains behind it, the benefits and value provided by implementing SDN will be a key factor for many companies in the years to come. Most networks moving forward will have the benefit of deploying security processes through a commodity processor or x86 server instead of acquiring, deploying, and managing numerous physical appliances.

At Focal Solutions, we make telecom easy with a team that is committed to the success of our clients. From cloud-based solutions to hybrid solutions and data recovery processes, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call today to talk more about your data center needs.

 

CIOs Debate Cloud Strategy

Cloud SecurityEnterprise computing systems have traditionally comprised servers, storage, and networking devices that came from different companies. Many times those products have depended on other technology for performance and have been discounted in package deals. A similar model is emerging from the cloud as CIOs debate the best systems for structuring multiple vendors in their cloud strategy.

Single vs Multi-vendor Cloud Platforms

CIOs are trying decide if they should move toward single or multi-vendor cloud platforms. One idea is to split computing workloads between vendors, since using multiple platforms is costly and takes up resources. The problem with this model is that it means slowing down work, such as training people twice.

Many times it’s more efficient to work with one vendor. CIOs are looking for a single cloud platform that’s more affordable and offers sensible scalability and security without a vendor lock-in agreement — a package that is hard to find. While CIOs are seeking to avoid lock-ins, they will likely have to deal with them since that’s the direction the cloud is moving. At the moment many CIOs are deciding between platforms such as AWS and Microsoft Azure.

Another one of the major challenges that CIOs are facing in determining a cloud strategy is deciding between leaving data centers behind or approaching the growing market for sharing workloads between data centers and the public cloud.

Cloud Flexibility

Moving from one cloud provider to another is usually not a big issue unless custom services are initiated, which creates dependencies within the original cloud structure. If an app is dependent on the vendor’s domain name and connection with a relational database, it can pose a challenge for moving to a new provider. Otherwise, moving an app from one provider to another is simple.

Dependence on specialized cloud services is tied to how much one uses them. CIOs must decide between standardizing an app for cost and efficiency and creating a more outside the box solution that yields better performance.

Businesses might benefit by starting with a few different cloud partners to gauge quality and scalability. It’s best to test a cloud solution before agreeing to a long-term commitment. Ultimately, creating the right application architecture is the key to CIOs meeting their goals in the cloud.

Conclusion

CIOs need to establish appropriate policies and frameworks to oversee an effective cloud strategy. In recent years they have experimented with huge cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure to test scalability and cloud efficiency. CIOs must weigh the costs and productivity involved with using single or multiple vendor platforms.

How CIOs Can Benefit from IT Innovation

shutterstock_131515541While innovation certainly has been a large aspect of running a business for CIOs in the past, it appears as if it has become less of a focus point for them over the years. This is particularly apparent in the way CIOs handle Unified Communications and other IT businesses aspects. IT needs to do what it can to provide innovative solutions that are secure, top-quality and cost-efficient.

If IT was more involved in the business as a partner inspiring growth, CIOs could find that their businesses benefit from more innovation. There are ways for IT staff to have a bigger role in business without becoming distracted from primary IT functions.

Here are some steps CIOs can take to encourage innovation with IT.

1. Develop Business Impact Strategies

Businesses can inspire more innovation if a group gets together to discuss how each branch of the business can get involved. In many cases, a simple solution can positively affect ROI, and IT might be responsible for that solution.

Business leaders can come together to look at all aspects of business operations to determine where improvements can be made. This will generate criteria that will be helpful for both IT personnel and unit teams to follow. Each team involved in looking at business impact should ideally have no more than two or three people to offer ideas and suggest which projects are worth continuing.

2. Have IT Go into the Field

This step involves a small team of IT staff members with a business mindset, and a few representatives from the business side, such as members of sales and operations teams. Together, they can take a closer look at the issues employees are facing by asking questions and listening for feedback that might be helpful. The goal here is to figure out what might be decreasing productivity or resulting in unneeded expenses.

It may take a couple of weeks to gather all of the information needed and to come up with a solution. IT solutions to issues that are discovered might include developing customized applications, opening access to specific tools, and adding VoIP, or other communications elements.

3. Meet to Focus on Innovative Solutions

At this phase in the process, IT and a business unit team meets to discuss what each has managed to find, and determines which efforts can ultimately improve business operations and decrease unnecessary spending. Innovative ideas will be needed to help ensure success. A scatter chart displaying results of solutions as they relate to business impact and ease of implementation might be helpful in this situation.

4. Develop Technology Prototypes

Here is where IT will actually develop the technology solutions, which can take one or two months. A schedule that keeps IT professionals aware of the length of a project should be created. Prototypes developed should include aspects such as the user interface, and should project how the solution will affect ROI and business operations. IT staff will also want to determine if new technology might be beneficial, performing research to do so.

5. Build the Prototype

Once approved, the prototype project can finally be built. This step won’t involve the customer as much because they have already reviewed all of the expenses, risks, and technological options involved. Building the prototype won’t take long, and development of the prototype might actually introduce IT professionals to new technological innovations.

6. Repeat the Process for Future Innovations

After the above steps have been completed, they can be used again within another project.