Are you making the most of cloud for your digital transformation?

The key to capitalizing on cloud is to stop talking tech and demonstrate the business value for your organization, says one cloud expert.

“People adopt cloud for reasons like efficiency and velocity, but they need to focus on the capability it can bring to your organization,” Justin Kurtenbach, field CTO and enterprise architect with Stratiform, said at an ITWC webinar. “It has features and functions that the organization may not have on premise and would otherwise take a significant investment to achieve.”

Cloud is the hottest technology trend according to the 2017 Canadian CIO Census results. However, cloud computing services related to the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence rated lower in terms of the perceived return on investment.

IT Teams should develop a matrix showing how cloud services could be used to benefit the business, said Kurtenbach. As well, a non-technical storyboard on how technology could improve a ‘day-in-the life’ of the company can show concrete benefits to business leaders.

Kurtenbach and his colleagues discussed some practical examples of how Azure cloud services deliver business value.

Simplify backup & disaster recovery

Traditional backup solutions are resource intensive, said Chris Holdsworth, solutions architect at Stratiform. “It’s expensive and complex so it means that important data that should be backed up may not actually be backed up.”

With Azure Backup, the infrastructure and management is handled by Microsoft. All the company has to do is set up its backup policies, said Holdsworth. Backup servers can be deployed on-site or in the cloud to support hybrid or on-premises environments. Similarly, if an organization has an existing backup solution, it can continue to leverage that investment by using the Azure Vault for storage to take advantage of the flexibility and cost savings of cloud.

To protect against disasters, Azure Site Recovery automatically replicates an organization’s virtual machines, said Holdsworth. If disaster strikes, services can be quickly restored according to a predetermined plan. Organizations only pay for the storage, a license per protected workload and compute time used during the disaster. From a business perspective, “it allows for huge cost savings for disaster recovery because you no longer have to run another hot data centre,” said Holdsworth. “It also makes disaster recovery more feasible for smaller businesses that otherwise might not have that capability.”

Automate your infrastructure

Over time, there is often some tinkering with the settings on infrastructure components like virtual machines and load balancers, resulting in configuration drift, said Jason Bank, senior consultant at Stratiform. When the configuration of every component becomes unique, it’s more time consuming to manage and more likely to cause errors.

The answer, said Bank, is infrastructure as code. It uses stored definition files or templates to automatically provision and manage the infrastructure. It protects against misconfiguration or tinkering by monitoring the settings with alerts about changes, and can even revert things back to the original state. “It’s more predictable and avoids manual errors,” said Bank.

It sounds technical but it can have a big impact on business transformation. By giving an organization the ability to automatically spin up services in a reliable and consistent way, they can respond faster to customer needs, said Bank. “This is what agile is all about.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker has over 20 years of experience in IT-related fields in the public and private sectors, as a lawyer and strategic advisor. She is a former broadcast journalist, currently working as a consultant, freelance writer and editor.

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