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Take the next step to cloud and innovation

IT departments are shifting their focus from operational management to business transformation in order to support and inspire their business to use new technologies. Or, to put it another way… this expectation is becoming increasingly prominent in businesses.

When I talk to IT managers and employees, I notice they have an enormous desire and enthusiasm, however, one message keeps emerging: “We don’t have the time to engage, to be proactive and explore new technologies. We are overworked just keeping our existing environment operational and up-to-date.

In order to innovate, you must work in two modi.

  • Modus 1: optimize and ease the workload on the existing infrastructure (e.g. outsource ancillary activities or commodities).
  • Modus 2: the explorative. Use time and resources that are released through optimization to innovate.

Modus 1: optimization and easing the workload

Cloud technology can help you to outsource commodities and non-critical workloads. Just think of Exchange online, SharePoint online and Office 365. However, you could also place certain workloads in a pay-as-you go model, in which the administration of, among other things, the operating system and database servers are done for you by, for example, using Microsoft Azure.

This is immediately followed by the question: is it cheaper to work in the cloud than use your own data centre? There is no simple answer to this question without prior knowledge of your specific environment. However, my advice would still be to start by moving non-critical workloads or those workloads that do not run 24/7, to the cloud. This will provide you with plenty of risk-free experience, and the probability that you will save money, since you only pay for what you use (pay-as-you-go).

A number of examples (not an exhaustive list) are:

  • Dev, test or UAT environments: you only need these environments at very specific times. And, if you use resources in your data centre for these workloads, then you need to have additional capacity. In the cloud, you only activate the environment when actually needed. The pay-as-you-go model pauses the costs when you are not using the capacity.
  • Disaster Recovery: maintaining a second data centre is expensive. Here, once again, the pay-as-you-go model provides optimization (at least in CPU), because this fixed cost is reduced. Depending on the Recovery-Time-Objectives (RTO), the environment is only provisioning in the event of a disaster, otherwise it continues to run using a minimal amount of resources for a minimal service. In the event of a disaster, the load is immediately increased.
  • Back-up: you don't want to reach the point where a restore is required. By switching (to and from) a redundant online environment in the event of problems, this becomes necessary only in the event of unintentionally deleted data. Historical data remains important. Many companies rely on tapes (often legacy hardware), which is taken to other locations. The RTO is far from an optimal solution. Why not back up to an Azure cloud environment?

Optimization is not only about technology, it's also about habits and procedures. Xylos guides its customers through the process of choosing which workloads to move, the secure connection to the on-premise data centre (hybrid) and scripting the environments through Infrastructure as Code (IaC).

With IaC, you can provision a full environment in just a few minutes (Windows servers, SQL servers, private networks, load balancers, ...) and you always retain the same consistent environment. Compared to the manual procedure, you save time and the risk of errors is reduced.

Interested in the possibilities of optimization? Want to have your current cloud strategy assessed? Then arrange an appointment with frederick.dierickx@xylos.com.

Modus 2: exploring and innovating

How do you start innovating? Something can be innovative because it does not yet exist and has potential. Innovation can also be something that is unique within your sector, but that already exists in the consumer market (e.g. Bots) or in other sectors.

This means that innovating is a shared responsibility and develops both from business and from IT. It involves a certain risk, because it is often difficult to determine whether something will be a success, is technically viable or will be commercially successful. However, you can limit the risks by, for example, using proven technology that has been employed successfully in other sectors, or by deploying SaaS solutions.

Xylos and Bagaar are active in various sectors, and, in that respect, have acquired a lot of experience in the field of innovation. During our one-day innovation workshops, we shared our experiences with our customers. Here, the seeds of many ideas were sown, and our customers achieved results because of these workshops.

Interested in what a workshop is like? You have an idea, but you're looking for more information about the technical details? Then arrange an appointment with frederick.dierickx@xylos.com.

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