How going digital can drive business innovation and value

With so many different providers in the marketplace offering to provide cloud-enabled digital services, selecting the right partner can be daunting for business decision makers. Firstly, organisations need to consider functionality.

Will a particular cloud provider be able to offer them the right 'class' of service, and can they advise them on the right cloud platform that is most suited for their business, for instance hybrid cloud? Other considerations include assessing whether the cost models and performance models are the right fit for their business with appropriate SLAs in place. Senior IT professionals also need to think about other factors including the workflow, access, control, authorisation, auditing and reporting processes.

TRP: As companies become digital businesses, they will naturally gain more data. How can this data be commercialised so that companies can take advantage of this? E.g. become more predictive.

SC: As the value and volume of an organisation's data changes over time, IT professionals must manage it accordingly, choosing to retire or archive appropriate data sets, or ultimately remove them altogether. But when all that data lives in a private cloud or hybrid cloud environment, it adds a host of extra challenges around Information Lifecycle Management (ILM).

Traditional operational structured data sources are being augmented with social, web, government, as well as historically hard to use enterprise 'dark' data (unstructured document libraries and archives) and vast volumes of machine generated data (sensor and log data).

Modern ILM strategies involve a multi-tiered approach to handling data primarily for cost management reasons. Crucial factors in this decision making process are the availability of data, performance, back-up and recovery, and price. Companies must also find a provider with the appropriate ILM and security tools, but ones which don't compromise the ease at which data can be stored and extracted.

A balance also needs to be struck between tiers, such as with mission-critical applications and older records. Archived data can be stored on slower cheaper storage. For business critical apps, trust and control are important considerations. Furthermore, the speed at which companies can access their real-time data and archived data will have an effect on how data can be used in the commercial business model.

The more localised the data, the faster companies will be able to access it. The IT department needs to understand the controls required by the business, what controls are already in place, and then identify the control weaknesses before putting a remediation plan into action to fix those weaknesses. Understanding where and when to put business critical apps in the cloud will become even more important in 2014-15 as businesses undertake pilot projects for business functions.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.