|Issue:||Europe II 2011|
|Topic:||The growth of cloud services|
|Title:||Programme Director Cloud Services|
|Organisation:||BT Global Services|
John Gillam is the Programme Director for Cloud Services at BT Global Services; he has over 15 years experience within the ICT sector. Prior to his current position, Mr Gillam held several senior product management positions within BT, most recently managing the development of the Applications Assured Infrastructure suite of services. Before joining BT, Mr Gillam spent several years with Infonet Services Corporation as Senior Product Manager. Mr Gillam has been both winner and finalist in product innovation industry awards associated with application base SLAs, e.g. GTB Awards, Winner Best Corporate Innovation 2008. John Gillam holds a B.T.E.C. H.N.D. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
Many senior decision makers aren’t all that interested in the cloud; they want more productivity, efficiency, customer satisfaction and security for their data and operations. Service providers must focus on solutions for these real business issues and on solid returns on the user’s investment. Cloud computing puts vast amount of computing and telecom infrastructure at the service of users. It makes organisations more efficient and flexible and users only pay for what they need as they need it.
Corporate boardrooms around the globe face unprecedented challenges. Achieving cost leadership whilst operating globally; ensuring operational predictability and managing risk; innovating and reducing time to market; serving customers and citizens better. Many are interested in the potential for cloud services to help, but are unsure of their suitability, especially in terms of operational control, security and regulatory compliance, reliability and service. Despite all the hype surrounding the cloud, senior decision makers aren’t all that interested. What matters to them is how they make their people more productive, improve their operational efficiency and drive up customer satisfaction. The, cloud isn’t really about the technology. What matters is what cloud can deliver, and that’s where service providers must focus their attention – on solutions that address real business issues and deliver not just benefits, but solid returns on investment. For cloud services to be truly transformational they must address user and customer satisfaction, innovate in a manageable way, save money, manage risk, and fulfil an organisation’s potential. Seeing through the clouds There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace about what cloud services actually are. We see cloud computing and cloud services as different sides of the same coin. Cloud computing is related to the infrastructure but cloud services are related to business functions and each depends on the other. Cloud computing functionality residing in the network enables cloud services. That functionality derives from a vast number of processing cores, disc platters and the network’s data switches and routers. The ability to access all this computing power derives firstly from virtualisation and secondly through automated provisioning. The service provider’s role is in the creation and ongoing management of services utilising the computing components that reside in the cloud. Service providers that are not software companies or hardware manufacturers have an advantage since they can get very involved merging together the best parts of each of these technologies to bring scale, flexibility and value added managed services to their customers. The cloud is disrupting the industry supply chain so sometimes a partner becomes a competitor and at other times the roles reverse. There is no room in a commoditised and highly competitive market to stand on your own – co-operation in the cloud is important. More than just a trendy catch phrase, the cloud brings business benefits. With the potential to help organisations save up to 30 per cent on running costs, the numbers speak for themselves. More importantly, our research shows that the cloud makes people more productive, delivers better customer service, and makes organisations more efficient and flexible overall. Cloud services allow organisations to access the infrastructure and services they need, as and when they need them. Operationally, without doubt, business support systems elements are changing as customers only pay for what they need as they need it. The good news is that these are the elements which telecom operators have built their businesses on. Some often overlook the fact the plain old phone call is the original cloud service. Of course most of the products and services from the 21st century telecom operator are much more than line rental and call charges, and this has required a vast amount of financial commitment in physical assets to deliver services, even if they are virtualized. Operators have to manage the risk in investing in hardware and software assets to create shared platforms that customers can use to run a leaner business. The business model challenges and resulting profit margins will derive from the telecom operator’s ability to rapidly re-use or share and ‘over subscribe’ resources. As enterprises become more mobile, the age of PCs tied to desktops is coming to an end. The cloud represents an opportunity to ‘compress’ wasted resources such as hardware and storage. Cloud services are much more flexible. People can access the same solutions from every building on an organisation’s network – even from homes, hotels and customer premises – and can be more productive as a result. Cloud services can be turned on, up, down or off very quickly. There’s no need to wait weeks or even months while technology for an in-house solution is ordered, delivered and installed. Simply, the advances in hardware and software, specifically the ability for software to decouple what is used ‘logically’, from what’s used ‘physically’ has removed the biggest barrier service providers face, which is the ability to scale. When coupled with intelligent networking all the physical barriers are removed and service providers can deliver the service without constraints of locality, where is most efficient and cost effective for you, all while meeting your business performance requirements. Can you trust the cloud? If you believe you can ‘opt out’, of the move towards cloud computing and services, think again. Opting out of the cloud for the majority of us would be as futile as suggesting we can do without the Internet. Cast your mind back to the 90s when the Internet, if you had heard if it, was an option but in 2011 the Internet is everywhere. The cloud is no different, you may try and dodge it for a year or two, but inevitably you’ll need to embrace it. So I’d recommend you take responsibility now, for you own, your families and your business ‘information’ in the cloud. Think about how and where your information is stored and how important it is to keep it safe. Safety comes at a price, and not all information is equal. A scanned copy of your driving licence and passport in the wrong hands could lead to identity theft but picture of granny and the kids is of little value to a thief but may have sentimental value to you. Equally, a private investment bank may have legal requirements to keep data within a countries border. Ask yourself this; Do you know where your all your information is? Do you know who can access it? Do you care? I bet you know who is able to enter your house; don’t you think you should know who could access the information you place in the cloud? Put a value on your data; make sure you choose cloud services that offer the security level relevant to the importance of your data. There is little point in paying for the encryption of the family photo’s, in fact you may wish share them with the world on social network sites. However the document scans of your driving license and passport might warrant encryption so only you can access it. Like any service, your only recourse if something goes wrong is documented in the terms and conditions you agreed. How often do you tick the ‘I agree’ box at the bottom of the web page without reading them in detail? Would you do the same if the same terms and conditions were posted through your letterbox? I confess I don’t read them very often, the main reason, I suspect like many of you, is that we choose service providers we trust, but that isn’t always good enough. You may pick a service provider who delivers all the technical assurance you need to keep your data in the right place and protected from viruses and malicious attacks, but what if they go bust? Can you get your data back? What about the offsite backup tapes? Do you even know if your data is being moved around? Cloud services are still in their infancy, yet they are having a profound impact on our lives. Cloud services will continue to flourish and the devices we use to access them will continue to improve. One challenge on the horizon is the lack of a universally accepted digital identity, over time this will be a necessity for our safety in a digital world, but both the technology and cultural barriers have a way to go. So forget the technology, that’s the service provider’s job, focus on the service you’re buying, be safe, take responsibility, but above all embrace it.