The “as-a-service” concept is not new. In fact, it’s been around for decades when you consider that email was delivered as-a-service as far back as the mid-90s. It eventually evolved to businesses consuming virtual machines, which was the beginning of infrastructure-as-a-service, and subsequently expanded to other platforms as-a-service offerings.
Ultimately, as-a-service is a cloud-based on-demand resource, usually delivered on a consumption basis. On-demand models help companies shift from the capital expenditure model to operational expenditure, allowing them to move away from lengthy procurement models to month-to-month subscription cycles.
Most CIOs understand that, in a simplistic way, as-a-service removes the barriers to achieving agility, scalability, simplicity and cost savings. This is the very nature of the model to help you achieve this. However, there are some key considerations to be taken into account before adopting an as-a-service approach for your organisation.
Most importantly, as a CIO, you need to ask, “Why should we be doing this?” Considering your organisation’s business objectives and challenges, could these not be met with an investment in your current infrastructure?
Individual business requirements
Also, these objectives and challenges need to be aligned with your business strategy and to have a good understanding of how this strategy integrates with the IT roadmap. This does not need to be a hugely complex and highly-theoretical scenario. It simply boils down to individual business requirements, how these can be satisfied and how as-a-service can help deliver that.
The next step is evaluating suppliers, vendors and partners and understanding the type of capabilities that each of them can deliver. As a CIO, you need to realise that you will not be doing this alone. While some big enterprises may have the capabilities to adopt an as-a-service model, more than likely, you’ll be looking to partner. It is about knowing the right partner networks and weighing up their capabilities to establish whether they meet your requirements.
It’s important to do comparisons between the players and consider the pros and cons of going with specific technologies or as-a-service capabilities. You should also look at vendor versus vendor, and supplier versus supplier. In the end, it might not be just one, but more likely a hybrid approach using a multi-platform of suppliers and technologies. So it’s key to know what each supplier and technology can deliver for you.
On that point, CIOs must realise that their adoption of as-a-service will more than likely result in a multi-platform and multi-partner situation. Yes, it’s great to go with a single service provider and get them to do everything for you, but that’s not always practical or feasible. Because as-a-service now encompasses almost any and every aspect of IT, most suppliers specialise in specific areas and capabilities. Therefor you have to consider respective service providers’ individual strengths in a multi-pronged approach.
With different capabilities delivered by different services, your organisation will require system integration and orchestration. There may be various operational and organisational platforms that you won’t be retiring, yet also not migrating or converting to an as-a-service model. It is vital to consider how these will integrate, function and interoperate with your environment.
Need the professionals
One will quickly realise that there is a need for professionals to help you navigate through this complex landscape. The right professionals must deliver capabilities that go beyond just enabling you to consume services from them. They must help you integrate the as-a-service model with your existing platforms, grow your capabilities and take stock of what you currently have to help you move everything to the right platform.
The ideal as-a-service model that CIOs should aim to achieve is a multi-platform, multi-capability, and multi-technology environment, where the service provider has the ability to add resources as and when your business needs them.
When choosing a partner, CIOs need to consider the capabilities that they require to achieve their immediate as well as their longer term goals, which may involve activities that they have not even considered yet. A meaningful ICT service provider will support you across all disciplines along the journey to digital transformation.
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