There has been a shift in the cloud provider landscape, according to a Gartner report released in October. IT service providers are moving into a space traditionally owned by pure-play cloud and datacenter service providers.
For enterprises considering cloud services, IT service providers can deliver a range of solutions and services, including strategic planning and support. As a result, companies' immediate demands for cloud architectures can be met and exceeded in the areas of virtualization, datacenter and storage, managed services and hosting, and IT outsourcing. Global IT service providers specifically have a better understanding of different IT environments, regardless of their technology or geography mix; this is a critical element to consider when delivering cloud technology on a worldwide scale.
Because IT service providers have a wealth of experience designing and supporting broad IT architectures, they can go beyond simply meeting cloud-specific requirements the way pure-play cloud providers do. Cloud implementation can often become a long journey that requires intense support at different stages, from determining how cloud-ready a company is to becoming fully cloud-ready. The process often involves planning and integration in areas such as networking, application rationalization, governance, and security. IT service providers can usually address all these needs during a cloud deployment. Their expertise and capabilities essentially make them a one-stop shop.
An organization's journey to the cloud requires a great amount of flexibility. A customized cloud solution that evaluates private, public, and hybrid options is best, so that the organization can ultimately determine the appropriate approach. Some IT service providers can offer a customized approach to help such companies.
Most other providers tend to base their services on the lowest-cost infrastructure, but IT service providers typically have a historical advantage in providing best-of-breed technology and enterprise-class solutions and services that take into account clients' unique needs. These solutions meet enterprises' demands for reliability, high availability, and uncompromised performance in terms of security, compliance, and stringent service-level agreements (SLAs) when moving to the cloud.
Many IT departments operate with finite resources and limited bandwidth. In fact, a number of recent surveys have shown that between 60 percent and 70 percent of IT resources remain tied up in maintenance, with only 30 percent to 40 percent dedicated to innovation. As a result, many organizations need more agility to innovate and respond to fast-changing business demands. With support from an IT service provider, businesses can benefit from a suite of services to manage and monitor their IT systems infrastructure and free up their staff to focus on innovation.
The cloud is just one of several IT-changing technology trends that enterprises are struggling to address. Enterprise mobility/BYOD, converged communications/video, and others present a challenge to modern IT teams. As organizations consider these emerging technologies, IT service providers can provide a holistic view of the ideal scenarios to ensure seamless, cost-effective deployments that will help the business over the long term. Moreover, as organizations aim to consume IT-as-a-service; set cloud, hosting, and networking strategies; and reduce the number of providers they work with to meet their needs, IT service providers will become increasingly central to their buying decisions.
Mark Slaga is senior vice president at Dimension Data Americas, a multibillion-dollar international solution provider and integrator.