Flexibility and cost-efficiency are selling points that often dominate when organizations are selecting a cloud provider – so for firms with less rigid requirements, a pay-as-you-go option is certainly appealing. Unlike a mobile phone contract, which can leave you locked in and paying a fixed rate for data that you may not use, cloud providers are offering flexible options to give firms more control over their infrastructure.

Utility computing makes using the cloud as easy as obtaining essential services like electricity, gas, or water. Now, accessing the cloud is as simple as a flick of a switch, or a twist of a tap, but organizations are falling behind by not recognising how IT’s role has changed alongside it.

The simplicity of utility computing – in terms of both its pricing benefits and operational advantages – means that IT teams have the bandwidth to focus on higher-level activities, such as governance and strategic value, instead of devoting efforts to managing cloud infrastructure. This opens the door to huge opportunities for organizations, freeing up IT departments – but to optimize this potential, teams must be equipped with the right skills to keep ahead of the curve.

Getting up and running

Over the past decade, the advantages of moving to the cloud have become so undeniable that almost every organization has – or is planning to – migrate their applications and infrastructure here. The next generation of cloud computing will be ubiquitous, as it has rapidly become an essential service for organizations across the globe. Unlimited storage capacity, improved collaboration, better data security, cost savings, and the potential to scale up to an organization’s needs, are just a handful of the benefits offered by the cloud.

According to research from Couchbase, 40 percent of organizations cite keeping costs under control as a top concern surrounding the decision to adopt cloud infrastructure. However, cloud availability has shifted to become more elastic, turning the tap on and off in line with how much organizations need. This helps to keep cloud costs under control by moving away from fixed expenses, removing some of the hidden costs which so often hold back organizations’ digital transformation plans.

Building blocks for cloud

With cloud computing now looking as simple as running water, the IT department’s responsibilities should no longer lie with developing and maintaining infrastructure. Now, IT teams have more space to focus on governance and strategic value.

A good way to describe this is with the builder and interior designer analogy. The cloud provider is like a builder, whose role is to build the bricks and mortar foundation, ensuring that the building is robust and fit-for-purpose. IT departments are the equivalent of an interior designer; developing functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces, creating finishing touches, and adding value. Keeping IT departments from having to worry about the building blocks frees up their time to focus on higher-level transformation –ultimately adding real business value to organizations.

Channelling resources

If organizations want to maximize their cost benefits from utility computing, IT must be equipped with the right skills. Despite the greater enthusiasm and rising adoption for cloud, many organizations are struggling to gain maximum potential from it.

Research finds that almost one in five CIOs report that a lack of skilled staff is causing digital projects at their organization to either fail, be delayed, or scaled back. While utility computing might not require high-level skills, IT still needs access to the right people, either internally or through service providers. When it’s confident that utility computing is operating as expected, IT can then focus on building its expertise to deliver higher-level digital transformation projects that will bring real value to organizations. Otherwise, firms could end up wasting resources on deployment – which should be as simple as a flick of the switch – and sacrificing valuable time that the IT department could instead be spending on strategic transformation. Just as with other utilities, you don’t want your people to spend their time changing light bulbs or fixing leaks when they should be doing their core jobs.

Saving costs and streamlining strategy

As cloud adoption continues to gain momentum, utility computing is something that many organizations have been eagerly anticipating. The improved flexibility that comes with utility computing reduces the risk of cloud providers operating on a “use it or lose it” approach to data – meaning that firms are no longer tied into cloud contracts that make any unused data effectively wasted. This makes the shift to cloud much more cost effective, as they are less likely to end up burdened with hidden external costs that moving to the cloud can impact.

The IT department must keep ahead of the curve as the cloud shifts gears to become available in the same way as water, electricity, or gas. IT teams must no longer waste resources on getting their cloud strategies up and running – they should take the opportunity to become more strategic, focusing on high-level governance and planning. Otherwise, migrating to the cloud will not bring the business value or cost benefits it promised.

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