The triumphant advance of cloud computing began 20 years ago with “As-a-Service”. Especially in the areas of finance, CRM and HR, the idea of ”No Software” started, which later became “No Infrastructure”. Today we can say that there is already an “IT-as-a-Service” infrastructure in which all IT areas can be used as a service. These modern “as-a-service offers” are characterized by the fact that they offer flexible cost and usage models in a standardized form. For many companies and their IT organizations, this has led to completely new, once unthinkable uses.
This primarily includes decoupling the application software from the runtime environment. In the past, every new application concept began with the available or expandable in-house infrastructure. But with serverless computing and container technologies such as Kubernetes, this close interlinking has broken up and new freedom has been created. This applies both to the implementation of new business requirements and to the choice of the underlying IT structure. This no longer requires a public cloud. Thanks to modern solutions, it can also be a correspondingly flexible on-premises cloud, such as that offered by HPE with HPE Greenlake.
We asked several CIOs how they assess these new forms of IT usage, what their particular advantages and disadvantages are and what specific experiences they have had with them.
First things first: Many of the CIOs we interviewed have recognized the new “As-a-Service” opportunities and are working flat out to get closer to the age-old dream of a lean, smooth IT organization.
Christian Ammer, CIO of the law firm Noer LLP, sums it up in a nutshell: “As-a-Service means zero IT assets for me (at least as little as possible); we like to pay for usage, but not for property . ” According to Ammer, this also and above all applies to the new consumption-based on-premises offers. “You create scope for investments and ensure easy scaling for a step-by-step, agile approach,” is his positive experience.
Peter Janze, Managing Director and CIO at digital @ M, explains the As-a-Service advantages in more detail: “As-a-Service models have two special advantages: on the one hand, they offer good cost transparency and budget planning, and on the other, they enable In times of a shortage of skilled workers, they have more freedom for the existing IT so that it can tackle new topics. ” Janze also has a positive view of consumption-based offers: “Usage-based IT also offers two advantages: IaaS and PaaS make it possible to scale directly and depending on the load. Especially in the SaaS environment, there is also cost transparency, because it is always clear how the IT cost share is high, so that the TCO and ROI can be easily calculated for all digitization projects, “he says about the main advantages.
Cost advantages and transparency run like a red thread through all CIO answers regarding the advantages of a consumption-based IT infrastructure. But there are a number of other “side effects” that can be very important. Gerd Niehage, CIO at B. Braun Melsungen, points out, for example, that the departments have fewer incentives to set up shadow IT in a third-party public cloud. “Fast and easy access to all IT resources allows problem-free use”, so his experience.
Christian Grotowsky, CIO at Lekkerland, sees as-a-service offers as a good option for avoiding the wild growth of the multi-cloud. He has a solid example from his own company: “If we hadn’t consistently switched to Office 365 two years ago, we would have slipped into quite a chaos with the Corona crisis. We had home offices earlier, but not to the extent that it occurred practically overnight when the pandemic broke out. Scaling and consistent implementation are the central keywords for an efficient solution. No file server in the data center, only a single collaboration solution with MS teams. That has a lot of positive things for us Provides feedback from the departments. “
With both as-a-service and consumption-based computing, however, there are a few factors to consider. This is mainly due to the fact that they do not have to be viewed and operated in isolation, but rather in the context of the entire IT infrastructure. This in turn means that sufficient know-how must be available for the integrated use of the respective sub-areas. This can be achieved in three ways:
Education and training of your own staff
New hires correspondingly experienced experts
Obtaining external know-how if necessary
Usually different combinations of these are used. However, the CIOs we surveyed showed a preference for the third variant. “All companies are faced with more or less the same challenges in these transformations,” says Markus Sontheimer, CIO and CDO of Schenker AG. So it makes sense to bring the know-how of external partners on board. “That saves time, frees up your own resources and allows you to concentrate on the essential business aspects,” says Markus Sontheimer, summarizing the views of many of his colleagues.
This is also confirmed by consulting firms such as Accenture. “We use experience from hundreds of similar products worldwide for each of our projects. That saves customers money and shortens the learning curve considerably,” said Tobias Regenfuß, Head of Cloud and Infrastructure for DACH at Accenture.