The Cloud is the future for procurement. If that’s the case, why do we still have so many questions about it?
Procurious are at ProcureCon IT in Amsterdam this week. Stay up to date with the latest highlights on the Blog, and follow live on Twitter.
We sat in a very interesting, interactive panel discussion yesterday on anything and everything Cloud related. This is one of the most talked about topics in procurement, so it’s no surprise that it generated a lot of discussion at this week’s conference.
As Tania Seary noted, the cloud has a touch of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ about it. Everyone’s talking about it, everyone is convinced that they need it, but not everyone knows exactly what it is or how to use it. It’s clear that procurement is being hindered by this lack of clear understanding.
We were particularly interested in hearing the views of the panel compared to the others we’ve heard this year. What we heard was a consistent message, aligned with other Cloud experts Procurious have spoken to.
In our Oracle webinar last month, our discussion touched on the array of options in technology available to procurement. Also discussed was the idea of how traditional offerings differed from those from smaller, more agile companies.
All About the Cloud?
Both men are active in the procurement space, as well as active members of Procurious! Christiaan Murphy is responsible for CGI’s global software spend of around 500 million per year.
Michael Delle is part of Ericsson’s global organisation for category management for SI & IT. He has a unique perspective on the Cloud, familiar with it for internal use, but also as part of the reselling systems integration programme at Ericsson.
CGI is divided around procurement categories (telecoms, software, hardware), but this isn’t common to all organisations. Traditional structures could present some difficulties in management of the Cloud, particularly from the point of view of data centre.
Michael raised the point about a lack of shared Cloud best practice for processes such as contract management. When it comes to negotiating cloud contracts, are you paying a subscription or a monthly cost? Either way, you need to be sure of what service level you expect for your costs. It needs to suit you, your organisation and your customer expectations.
Hidden Costs of the Cloud
Another fascinating area of debate raised was that of the hidden costs of the Cloud. Many people have chosen to focus on the benefits it offers, but few have stopped to consider the unseen costs.
Michael, in particular, was keen to point out how surprised people were when they found this out.
The first was the difficulty of getting back out of the Cloud environment once you were in it or even simply switching to an alternate vendor. There is always difficulty in migrating away from what you are buying, but the Cloud adds an extra level of complexity to this, especially when it could take months to get your data out!
It’s important to have a recovery scenario for your data and a contingency plan in place in case the cloud fails.
The second cost relates to legacy solutions. Some organisations involved in the Cloud environment would still keep their legacy solutions on site.
This was a conscious decision in many cases, with concerns about Cloud migration driving this. However, it did lead to duplication of technology and, more importantly, cost.
One final topic of interest surrounding this topic is Cloud brokering. For those of you who don’t know (and we were one of them), this is more simple than it sounds. As you might be able to guess, a Cloud broker is an intermediary between a Cloud seller and buyer.
The concept of brokering has grown in Cloud software, as companies are asked to provide a service for people who don’t know what they are doing. Often, these are mid-sized companies who could benefit from the Cloud, but can’t dedicate the resources to understanding it better.
The companies that are suffering in this area were larger organisations with solutions for managing data centres. Cloud software is trending towards very specific solutions, which can be open source, and not dependent on the larger providers.
These ‘point’ solutions are proving to be better than the larger, all-in ones. The Cloud is enabling the trend towards virtualisation, but are hurting the providers offering off-site management, as people don’t see it as a requirement any more. It’s possibly better to go with the ‘point’ solutions, and avoid the software lock-in.
What do you make of the discussion points in this panel? Do you agree? Why not create your own discussion, or contact Michael and Christiaan on Procurious to find out more?