By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini
SM: What about organizational changes? How do you see your organization evolving as you roll out cloud computing–based solutions?
MS: I think the IT organization will simplify, and I think what will happen is instead of having people who are dealing with hardware and dealing with issues that go along with the data center, the handling of such issues will go off to the cloud provider. So, for example, at my Fort Mead, Maryland, location where I have to worry about our infrastructure, I won’t. I won’t have to have a vendor in Fort Mead; I won’t have to have someone in New York dealing with the vendor in Fort Mead – that will go off to the cloud provider.
SM: You are going to be able to reduce the number of people who are involved in managing your IT infrastructure?
MS: That is correct. The infrastructure will come as a service. Once it comes to me as a service, all these issues become someone else’s issues.
SM: Would you take that as cost savings or redeploy it to some other function within the IT organization?
MS: No, we will take it as a saving right now. We have built up the organization in terms of everything that we need. For example, when IT requests come in, they are handled and closed within 15 minutes on an average. When a new user is hired and requires a laptop or phone allocation on an IP phone extension and setup, that is handled within an hour or two. We are already dealing with the fact that in our organization there is a huge expectation that things are handled very quickly and efficiently. We work with the same expectations that built the company in terms of our addressing these same things for our customers or what our people demand from us. We haven’t had a single system down for seven years other than planned maintenance. We haven’t had a system unavailable, our e-mail has not been down in seven years, file shares have not been down in seven years. ERP, Web, whatever: none of it has been down in at least seven years other than a planned maintenance window. We have tremendous resources in place, and if I can now take some of those people away from infrastructure and from the management that goes into it, I don’t need to redeploy them to some other place. I can actually start lowering some of the my costs.
SM: What are your thoughts on public, private, and hybrid clouds? How do you view these different configurations, and how does that apply to your infrastructure?
MS: Well, I believe that two years from now, the definition of a public cloud and a private cloud will change. I look upon all of these things as a service, and I look at every service that I get from vendors skeptically. I will give you an example. For something as simple as network connection, I dare you to go and find any network provider and ask them whether there are any downtimes and of course they always tell you, ‘None!’ If you ask them, ‘Are your connections completely clean; are your customer service people fully knowledgeable? The answer you get is always in the affirmative. It is the same with Dell, the same with IBM; everybody is perfect when you buy services and solutions from them. The trick is to ferret out who is going to be really good and who is going to be really good consistently over time.
In terms of these different service providers and services, what you are going to find is they are going to change, and the real concern now is not about whether one should go with private cloud, public cloud, or with this service or that one. The question is, which will be cheaper? Or do I go with that service that will offer me a segmented virtual server versus shared resources? The trick is to establish levels of what you need your service to be. Establish a cost level that you can afford, and make sure that you can get to a point where first, the service provider is likely to give you that and second, that you have offered yourself a protection scheme if in fact they don’t.
Think about the person who says okay, I’m going to sign a contract with a cloud provider, I want a private cloud, I want these service level guarantees, and then they don’t get them eventually. Sure, you can go to court, withhold money or other such things. But the bottom line is that your business stays intact. It is really about establishing criteria that you need to have made for your own business requirements, establishing a price level that you know is going to be beneficial to your business and then also offering yourself that back up strategy, that sail-over strategy in case something happens with the cloud-based setup.