Just about every corporate leader I've spoken to recently has nominated the ability to respond quickly to changing customer needs and market conditions as a key priority. Businesses are operating in a faster, more competitive environment.
So how do businesses gain the IT flexibility and dynamism they need to thrive in these circumstances?
Businesses are gradually moving away from traditional, capital-intensive models based on buying servers, storage and other datacentre equipment to embrace the potential of 'Anything as a Service (XaaS)' underpinned by the cloud.
So what is XaaS? The term refers to delivering services to businesses - including infrastructure, applications and software - over an agile platform.
The potential benefits of this model to businesses are considerable. They can reduce their capital outlay on equipment such as servers and storage devices and to adopt a pay-as-you-go model. They can also increase the proportion of their IT budgets directed towards innovation rather than business-as-usual functions. And they can move faster to seize new opportunities and help gain an edge over their competitors.
However, moving to XaaS does not just mean making a few tweaks to the IT function within an organisation. It involves a fundamental re-architecting of the way IT resources are delivered to and consumed by business units. If not done properly, this can create confusion within an organisation - for example, a business unit may not understand or comply with policies governing the consumption of IT as a service, or a datacentre administrator may not know how they fit within a restructured IT division.
So how should businesses move to an XaaS model? At Optus Business, we propose they should adopt a three-stage approach based on Foundation, Transformation and Enablement. This process guides businesses on key steps. For instance, it's important to get the business buy-in and justification via executive sponsorship, review the role your IT team will play in this new service delivery model, and do a thorough analysis of your IT environment. We've outlined these stages in an opinion paper that you can read here.
I'll also be presenting on the journey to Anything as a Service at CiscoLive this week. I'd be interested to hear how your business is taking on the challenge of XaaS, so feel free to drop by the Optus Business stand.
By David Deakin, Optus Business Group Manager (Cloud & Data Centre Solutions). More from David on Twitter: @deaksinthecloud
All views expressed are the author's own.