Scaling the cloud
How quickly can your company's cloud solution scale?
The ability of a business to scale up or down will help to reduce its risk, and possibly give it the edge in different scenarios.
However, is this really the case? Can your business scale? And how often is this necessary? Or is this just a nice strategy available if and when the business feels like it.
Every cloud provider is able to scale their solution based on the needs or requirements of their clients. This is seen as a 'must-have requirement' by most cloud procurement managers, and the teams accessing their vendors and solution partners. The concern is not just about scalability, but deployment and ease of use.
Scalability is also not the same as elasticity, and having an elastic cloud model is becoming a requirement by most cloud solution clients. The elastic approach to cloud is becoming the de-facto standard for most providers.
Let's look at what this means. A scalable solution is usually able to increase and provision more resources on an incremental model - as the client requires more resources. This normally has some billing implications, as the more established cloud vendors will allow an increase in requirements and then increase the billing to sell more services.
Elasticity means the solution is able to increase and decrease capacity also based on client requirements. This results in a situation where clients may require a high capacity for short bursts of time, and then only incur the cost of those short periods.
Some companies have seasonal business models, which means the need for applications only grows at certain times of the year, based on several factors.
The cloud provider can only anticipate these increases if it understands the industry. Make sure to choose a cloud partner that truly understands the business and value proposition. This will ensure that when help is required, the service provider understands the impact its application has on a business.
Simply having an elastic model is not good enough; it is critical to look at the billing engines behind these business models. Cloud providers might sign a business into a minimum agreement to make sure their revenue is protected; however, the business may not be ready for this expense - so, will it then be able to decrease the monthly bill or will it be stuck in a long contract?
Choose a cloud partner that truly understands the business and value proposition.
The cloud provider will need to support long-term scalable solutions with a strategic focus, and short-term elastic options for tactical daily decision-making.
In either case, one must ask a few probing questions:
* Can the solution under contract be deployed quickly, or is the project time-frame and deployment cycle excessively long?
* What are the integration points in the solution; if the company needs a quick deployment model, would the simpler solution scale much quicker?
* Which parts of the business will need to be adapted to accommodate for tactical changes?
The biggest obstacle to elastic models is the business model that needs the technology, not the technology or the vendor deploying the solution.
Ready or not?
Let me use an example - if a company wants to quickly deploy a contact centre, does it have the processes in place to enable staff to be employed on short-term contracts? And how will it assist these contact centre agents with quality training to really help clients and customers with good service.
Do the company's back-end systems support an increase in users, or will they need to deploy more resources and people to their processing of applications or other business functions?
Another potential stumbling block is represented in the question: does the company have the physical space and furniture to increase its business? And, if it wants to decrease again in the short term, what will it do with all the extra resources in its company?
Everyone believes change is part of the business environment, and the level of disruptive change is creating the need for solutions to increase and decrease in size in short notice time-frames.
The most innovative business in the world will need to look at its capital models, and understand the cash flows of its companies to make sure the demand for certain resources and services in the business is correctly aligned to the stock or the availability of people to meet those needs.
Different business departments might need to adjust and change in short-term periods to make room for the needs of the customers buying a specific product or service. Customers expect that the service just launched will give them the same satisfaction as the products and services they have been using for years.
Having scalable solutions and reliable options for the needs of a business might give it the edge in the future world.
Kevin Hall is national sales manager at people and enterprise-focused ICT company Elingo. Elingo is a specialist technology services business focused on multimedia contact centres and IP telephony, combined with business process automation (BPA). Hall is responsible for C-level engagement and is equipped with expertise and product knowledge to help clients identify their call centre and BPA needs, and then match these with the most effective solution. From his base in Johannesburg, Gauteng, Hall deals with decision-makers directly. He covers the entire spectrum of the Elingo solution, with specific attention to its value proposition, which is to offer the flexibility of cloud, on-premises or a hybrid solution, delivering business IP telephony and unified communications. Hall has experience in several key areas of technology development and application, including: outbound sales, debt collections, strategic analysis, call centre optimisation, cloud structural enhancement to business process, effective call centre management, call centres, process management, WFM, gamification and customer experience. Prior to his role at Elingo, Hall held senior positions at 1Stream, Intuate Group and RealConnect.