Ergo's George Dowling recommends a route to the cloud that delivers tangible benefits with little risk, writes Ian Campbell.
After the initial confusion and false promises that were a feature of the first cloud discussions, clear paths have begun to emerge through the fog. IT services companies such as Ergo have found a role for themselves as guides, building on long-established relationships with businesses; steering them in the right direction and helping navigate the hype.
George Dowling, Managed Services Solution Manager at Ergo, said that only small start-ups can go full steam into the cloud; for the rest it's about hybrid solutions and taking tentative steps that mitigate risk. With this in mind he outlined four pieces of infrastructure that can go to the cloud easily and with immediate benefits.
Ergo is a Microsoft gold partner - winning the Microsoft Irish Partner of the Year award twice in three years in 2012 - so it's no surprise that the applications are part of the software giant's online arsenal:
A sign of the times is that almost every tender request now leaves the door open for a cloud option in its specification requirements, according to Dowling. The only exceptions are government and organisations such as financial institutions, where they are constrained by regulation. For the rest, it's about reaping the benefits of the cloud.
Dowling is adamant that price is still a key factor."While it's true that the cost difference between running Office 365 off and on site is minimal, if someone is looking to do a complete infrastructure refresh - desktop, server and network - savings can be significant. Something that could cost €200,000 as a capital investment could be €5,000 a month for the next three years in the cloud," he said.
Over time the cost benefits may be more marginal, but Dowling makes the point that it's the ancillary services that add more value. Customers get an expert IT partner bringing new efficiencies to the process."The service should be better with more uptime and availability," he said.
Another benefit is detailed reporting that gives a precise breakdown of IT costs and lets businesses identify problems areas. "It's all about visibility and it's something that a lot of firms will not have experienced before," he said. "At the end of the day, it's another form of outsourcing where you let someone else take over things that aren't strategic to your business while keeping the things of real value, such as intellectual property and core applications that are critical to the business," said Dowling.
A founding principle of managed services at Ergo is that the client is in much better shape at the end of the contract term than they were at the start. "If they're the same as at the start then the service provider and the customer have missed an opportunity. It's the job of a partner to identify a way to improve IT and drive down costs over the period of the contract."
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