We have been having interesting discussions recently about the top reasons for migrating to cloud services. Traditional thinking, including my own, predicted that the top reason would be cost. However, consensus from most industry surveys are concluding that AGILITY is the number one driver behind cloud migrations and it leads the pack of other drivers such as cost, innovation and risk mitigation by a fair margin. Being someone who needs to be right, I am interested to see if I can argue that being agile is a cost metric in sheep’s clothing.
As we look at costs, current models show that cloud services are relatively equivalent to asset based capital purchases if you look at the cloud operating service cost versus a hardware purchase of say, a server or storage device. It is only when you look at what we historically have called “soft dollars” that cloud migrations become compelling. I maintain that AGILITY fits that soft dollar category. We call it something different than cost because it is much harder to quantify. Each enterprise will have a different perspective on the value of agility and hence a different translation into dollars. For example, agility is at the core of disaster recovery planning. We have many members’ IT staffs who are measured by the speed at which they can recover from disasters. That recovery time metric has very different value in different departments of government, education and healthcare. While I believe there may be aspects of agility that are intangible, I do think we should take a shot at the quantification, especially when justifying projects to the end user communities and the financial organization. I can just imagine the CFO’s reaction to the CIO who says, “Trust me, we will be more agile if we move to the cloud.”
Being agile in the context of cloud services affords the IT organization to be more responsive to end user needs. In Higher Ed, that might mean being able to spin up servers for researchers on a moment’s notice or deploying and maintaining desktops in a more efficient and rapid fashion or easily supporting BYOD. In Healthcare, it might mean the ability to rapidly conform to dynamic regulatory and application environments for Electronic Medical Records or consistent and rapid deployment of desktops for visiting or remote doctors. Each of these advantages can be quantified in workload dollar costs. While I get that there is an intangible quality to agility like the a bolstering of IT’s reputation, I come back to the fact that agility saves money. Being agile should be one of the basic tenants of any IT organization and the best Enterprise will use that agility to strategic advantage. Being able to manage more, faster with less is the essence of agility and that’s the bottom line….pun intended.