Tips for Unlocking Business Value with Cloud

As I’ve talked about both with customers and in previous blog posts, cloud needs to drive business value. CIOs are not interested in deploying cloud because they read a blog post about it or because Gartner says they should.

Ultimately they understand that the world of technology is changing and people are increasingly expecting a self-service model in everything they do. This is true whether they’re downloading an application on their smartphone, calling for a car, or provisioning IT resources. CIOs need to adopt this model (IT as a Service) to help bring value to the business and drive the necessary outcomes of the business.

What does it actually mean to drive business value? It sounds really good to say it and people think you’re smart, but obviously there’s more to it than that. Let’s look at some examples of how cloud drives business value for customers.

It’s all about the applications

For those of us in technology we sometimes spend a little too much time thinking about the hardware in our solutions. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of it, too. When a new smartphone is being released I’m always interested in how much RAM it has and how many CPU cores it has—as if I’m going to run virtual machines on it (I totally would, if I could, but that’s beside the point). When you think about it, what good is the extra RAM or CPU power in a smartphone (or cloud) if it doesn’t run the software you need. It all comes down to the applications.

One way to extract business value out of cloud is a simple “lift and shift” of your application workloads into the cloud. The inherent capabilities of a cloud like Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, including self-service management, cost visibility, and backup as a service brings capabilities that were likely not there previously. That does bring some value, but dropping an application into a cloud doesn’t typically provide enhanced automation and orchestration at the application level. Making the application owners more nimble and providing capabilities beyond what were available prior to moving applications to the cloud is when you really start driving value.

Enterprise application blueprints drive value

EMC has invested thousands of hours of engineering the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud platform, creating integration with Dell EMC products and providing lots of great functionality. One area where significant engineering effort was spent was in creating a set of application blueprints for common enterprise applications. These include Microsoft Exchange Server, SQL Server, and the Oracle database platform just to name a few.

We hear from customers all the time that their teams want database as a service (DBaaS), allowing developers to more quickly provision and manage databases for the applications they’re writing. The Engineered Blueprints for Microsoft SQL Server opens the door to DBaaS by allowing our Dell EMC Services team to drop in a set of fully engineered blueprints for SQL Server that provides DBaaS capabilities. For example, these blueprints allow provisioning and de-provisioning of individual databases, database instances, or even entire database servers. End users scan also backup and restore databases on demand, freeing them to work more quickly and not have to wait for IT or DBAs to perform many of these functions for them.

It doesn’t just stop at SQL Server. These Engineered Blueprints can provide functionality for Exchange Server, like email as a service, automated provisioning of highly available email infrastructures, and backup/recovery on demand. Similar functionality is available for SharePoint Server, Oracle, and SAP applications, too.

By giving application users and developers access to capabilities they didn’t have before, they become more agile and efficient. When businesses can create the applications or enterprise systems they need to compete and to provide products and services to their customers, that’s when real value is unlocked.

Give the people what they want

The right tool for the job is important—whether you’re building a house, repairing a car, or working with an organization’s application portfolio. Most organizations today have a mix of “off-the-shelf” applications, “home-grown” applications, and more modern applications built in cloud-native frameworks. One tool or technology is not necessarily right for all of those workloads as their needs and requirements are different. We believe in providing choice to our customers, and that’s no different here.

Enterprise Hybrid Cloud is a fantastic platform for the off-the-shelf enterprise applications from vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, and others. It’s built from the ground up for this class of application. As I described it above, Enterprise Hybrid Cloud has the capabilities to provide real business value. Dell EMC also has another cloud solution called Native Hybrid Cloud for those customers that are writing the next generation of cloud-native applications. Native Hybrid Cloud provides a turnkey cloud platform leveraging a scale-out architecture and platform integration with Pivotal Cloud Foundry to give developers a platform that accelerates their creation of the next generation of applications.

If customers try to cram a square peg into a round hole and use the wrong platform for the job, it becomes much more difficult to unlock the value that the business needs. Both Native Hybrid Cloud and Enterprise Hybrid Cloud are designed to be delivered quickly from our Dell EMC Services team in order to enable our customers to quickly see the value of their investments.

Listen and learn

One of the most important part of any of our cloud projects is talking to our customers to understand their goals, business objectives, and outcomes they’re trying to achieve. It sounds obvious but it’s true – our goal is not to simply drop off a cloud solution in a “one size fits all” manner. We sit down with our customers to understand where they’re going, and then, using our cloud solutions as a foundation, work together to craft an architecture that meets their goals. It’s very consultative and is outcome-focused.

We want to help our customers achieve their goals and build a lasting relationship. We wouldn’t be successful if we approached cloud as a single solution for everyone, as not all organizations measure the business value derived from their IT investments in the same way. We listen, learn and adapt based on the requirements of all of our customers.

We’re in this together with our customers in marching towards a “cloudy” future. Our goal is to provide solutions that help our customers solve their business problems. It’s an exciting time to be part of our Dell EMC Services team!

About the Author: Matt Liebowitz

Matt Liebowitz is the Global Cloud Platforms lead for the Dell Technologies Consulting Services Portfolio.  He focuses on thought leadership and service development for multi-cloud and cloud platform related Consulting services. Matt was named a VMware vExpert every year since 2010 and is a frequent blogger and author on a wide range of cloud related topics. Matt has been a co-author on three virtualization-focused books, including Virtualizing Microsoft Business-critical Applications on VMware vSphere and VMware vSphere Performance. He is also frequent speaker at the VMworld and Dell Technologies World conferences.