Recent years in the IT industry have seen diminishing budgets, a continual shortage of specialists on the market and increasingly accelerating competition for innovation. The IT as a Service (ITaaS) operational model, implemented at the infrastructure level by means of cloud computing, is an inseparable element that allows for maintaining competitiveness.

When facing the challenge of implementing the cloud (which will affect virtually every area of the organisation), we have two possibilities: the Build Your Own (BYO)  approach, i.e. the integration of components available on the market, or buying an out-of-the-box solution from one of the vendors.

Which approach is better? This depends on the business realities of the organisation. If its primary task is exclusively to provide services at the infrastructure level, and it at the same time has the right number of competent employees, the BYO approach – and creating a tailored platform – might be a good idea. But not all organisations have such a profile, and for the vast majority the cloud will be just one of many required elements – a tool that accelerates provisioning of an infrastructure for the business and ensures agility and accountability. Using the analogy of the world around us, the cloud is similar to a car – we buy a finished product, and the manufacturer guarantees maintenance services and integral operation of the complete product, something which does not even enter our thoughts while driving. The same applies to cloud implementation. If it is not our main competence (imagine we are a bank), we do not need to know the entire stack that constitutes the cloud platform (we focus on selling financial products not cloud services). We buy a ready-made solution that will be used to implement a service catalogue and as a base to create higher layers, such as the PaaS application layer.

When making a decision about cloud implementation, the most important factor is the cost of the entire project and the operational costs of maintaining the platform. The main cost component is the human work required to integrate the solution into one system, as well as the so-called day-to-day operations, i.e. all processes related to the subsequent maintenance of the whole. By buying a ready-made solution, the responsibility for the above-mentioned issues is transferred to the vendor. The vendor will ensure that the entire architectural stack of the solution, i.e. the computational part, network, storage resources, virtualisation layer as well as Cloud Management Platform  (CMP) automation and orchestration tools, works throughout its entire life-cycle so that upgrading the individual elements does not affect the availability of entire platform. During the creation of a business case for the cloud, it is important to be aware how much of a burden these activities place on our specialists and think about whether we might need their time for more innovative activities. Since ITaaS is a bedrock of multiple modern technologies (such as containers, application PaaS, analytics – you name it) it becomes super important to have it implemented because it will accelerate your digital transformation.

In the case of cloud computing, a very important aspect is to ensure the security of the platform and investment protection. The vendor guarantees that the delivered product gets updated in the future, resulting in new functionalities. The vendor also provides an upgrade path that will not cause downtime to the operation of critical resources such as the cloud. When it comes to the BYO approach, the internal IT team has to separately test each update version of individual components, which, in the absence of a test environment (which clients usually do not build due to costs), can be very difficult and time-consuming. In addition, in some cases even accurate tests cannot prevent failure caused by a change in the API of one of the components.

Finally, it is worth noting that if the cloud has not yet been implemented in a given organisation, its competitors in the IT sector may already be able to respond much faster to business needs. Typical cloud computing implementation projects last from about 6-8 months to several years, depending on the scope of the project. Therefore, instead of building a platform from scratch, the fastest way to keep up with the competition is to buy a ready-made product, integrate it with internal systems, and then focus on building value on higher levels than infrastructure.

About the Author: Filip Kata