Future-Proof Your IT: 4 Questions to Find the Right Strategy for You

Liz Alton

Cloud computing has completely changed the way we do business—and despite common misconceptions, the impact goes way beyond where files are stored. Sales teams can access customer relationship management (CRM) solutions from anywhere in the world, thanks to software as a service (SaaS). SaaS solutions also drive some of today’s most important customer interactions. At the same time, IT departments are under pressure to offer secure storage, lightning fast networking, and fast computing capabilities. There’s an increasing shift to “as a service” consumption models, and there’s a newer option to consider: “pay as you go.” Here’s what you need to consider as you navigate the evolving landscape of IT strategy.

The 3 Types of “As a Service” Solutions

Until recently, there were two options for IT: purchase all the hardware and/or software or tap into the expanding universe of cloud computing. As you move beyond the idea of making intensive capital expenditures, you quickly arrive at these three essential types of as a service solutions that businesses can tap into today:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS solutions allow organizations to access cloud-based applications without investing in infrastructure or outdated licensing models. Vendors run applications on their servers, maintain them, and update them. These applications can typically be accessed from any Internet-connected device.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): With IaaS, the cloud provider hosts the infrastructure that would typically power your business from an on-site data center—such as storage, networking, and compute capabilities. IaaS eliminates (or reduces) capital expenditures and allows for rapid deployments, while allowing organizations to retain control over their IT universe. IaaS is the true foundation for cloud computing: vast resource pools in globe-spanning data center environments, shared and consumed on demand by companies of all sizes.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS solutions provide a cloud-based environment for your business to develop and run applications. PaaS combines the multi-tenant shared resource pools of public cloud infrastructure with an added layer of tools, operating systems, applications, and other services. 

What Is Pay As You Go IT?

A discussion of evolving strategies today isn’t complete without addressing one of the hottest emerging offerings that’s upending discussions around IT consumption models: pay as you go. While that’s not an entirely new idea, emerging options like HPE GreenLake are shifting the discussion. 

HPE’s GreenLake is a hybrid cloud solution that’s designed to simplify cloud operations, streamline the implementation of new technology, and keep costs in check. This multi-cloud, multi-stack managed service has application management, security and compliance capabilities, and real-time cost management integrated into a single portal.

As Futurum Research notes, “Consumption-based IT services offer companies the ability to bring some of their core functions back onto their own premises without the need to expend capital for the physical hardware. It’s not an end-all, be-all so much as an option to help companies find the right balance of cloud and on-site technology in an often-overwhelming tech marketplace.” 

What Questions Should We Ask about Consumption Models?

How can leaders work to determine where they fall on the spectrum? Should you focus your strategy on the evolution to a richer adoption of cloud computing solutions, or experiment with whether pay as you go IT consumption is a smart option for your business?

Some critical points to consider include:

  • What is your core challenge—freeing up resources or experimenting with on-demand solutions?

If your IT organization is primarily focused on balancing the realities of freeing up resources to solve business issues with technology, while also being able to keep the lights on, the as a service solution suite is a great place to start. By contrast, if you’ve implemented core cloud computing and are looking for an alternative that lets you capture the benefits of cloud with the greater potential control of on-premise, IT blends the best of both worlds.

  • Where in the IT ecosystem are you focused on investing?

Another core consideration for IT leadership is where in their IT strategy they’re focused on investing. For example, if application performance and security are key concerns, focusing on as a service solutions can help address these issues efficiently. If the organization’s biggest challenges relate to the data center, exploring pay as you go options introduces new layers of flexibility, security, and affordability to on-premise data solutions.

  • Are you struggling with budget challenges?

While IT budgets rose or stayed constant for the most part, according to the Spiceworks 2020 State of IT survey, many organizations are working to balance the need for ROI and spending constraints. In many cases, the challenge isn’t that the funds aren’t available. Piloting new offerings, particularly those that rely on on-premise solutions, can be expensive. In the past, cloud computing has been the natural default. Yet if you’re dealing with data or other considerations with underlying security concerns, pay as you go IT could change the economics of on-premise experimentation and pilot programs.

  • Do you need a solution for the “on-premises use case?”

This is perhaps the single most critical differentiation point to consider. As a service IT consumption models can help organizations solve a number of challenges, from reducing the costs associated with maintaining hardware and software to meeting fast-changing security needs. Yet there are use cases that remain for many businesses for on-premise or partial on-premise data center solutions. Often, these are tied to compliance, user privacy, and compliance concerns. In these instances, pay as you go solutions can offer the ability to retain a hybrid environment while scaling the solutions that you consume and offering greater control, flexibility, and support at a controlled price point.

Having a plan in place to assess how changing IT consumption models affect your business is key. Not only can adopting flexible IT models free up resources for innovations and other projects, but it can help ensure that you have the bandwidth, security support, and other resources needed to meet your goals. As you move forward with objectives to simplify, expand, and improve your IT consumption, both as a service offerings and on-premise pay as you go models can work in concert for an affordable, customizable IT architecture.

Liz Alton is a B2B technology and digital marketing writer and content strategist. She has worked with a variety of brands including Google, Twitter, Adobe, Oracle, and HP, and written for publications including Forbes. She is a regular contributor to Connected, Connection’s official blog.