Transforming with Public Cloud
28th May 2021
Blog by Jason Normanton, Head of Cloud Services
The Digital Transformation Journey: challenges, hard work, and excitement in equal measures!
Like many businesses, CSI’s own transformation journey to be a ‘Broker of Services’ for our clients has been a multi-year evolution of service capabilities, business models, and client support offerings.
Very early in our planning, we realised that as a business that prides itself on serving our clients the best way we can, we needed to adapt our commercial and delivery models in line with the platforms we were now supporting.
By providing services and solutions which are designed to be agile, pay-as-you-go, and flexible from end to end, our clients receive a positive, frictionless experience.
To achieve this goal, whilst bringing onboard new offerings and partners, requires a significant level of change. A challenge that was not made any easier by a global pandemic turning the world upside down over the past 18 months.
However, as we now emerge from the restrictions placed on the UK from COVID-19, we find ourselves in a business that is more agile and better aligned to serving our clients than ever before.
We are here to help you along the journey to digital optimisation with service, technology, security and data protection capabilities whether you are;
- in the public cloud
- in CSI’s fully managed private PowerCloud
- on-premises, co-located, managed services and edge compute clients
- or any combination of the above… a.k.a hybrid!
Through our own internal transformation challenges, the greatest takeaway we can share is that “only by focusing on delivering the business outcomes that our clients, and subsequently their own customers are demanding, can we be successful as a business and form a true partnership together for future growth”.
It is fair to say that digital transformation is never easy for any organisation and even with a technology company like with CSI it has been both challenging and exciting at the same time!
Digital Transformation – IT as your Business Enabler
Far too often technology companies and service providers get hung up on the technology benefits rather than thinking about the consumer and ensuring the solution, the service and the economics are all favourable when compared to the alternatives of building it yourself or doing nothing.
IT needs to be a business enabler, capable of quickly turning requirements into solutions, and therefore as a trusted partner, we need to be as nimble and agile as our clients’ needs dictate.
Our transformation of services required business and technology changes across almost every aspect of our business. From payments through to product management, legal to operations, technology to governance. We have had to adjust and adapt our business to the digital world on every level.
Technology change was probably one of the easiest areas for CSI, after all, we have deep expertise in Microsoft, IBM and Red Hat technologies – all of which have strong modernisation roadmaps.
Providing the right mix of on-premises and cloud services, on x86 and IBM Power Systems – as well as integrating those “traditional architectures” into “hybrid services” across all service providers our clients were demanding – was not so easy!
Minimise the Risks of Digital Transformation
With the number of changes that we were introducing to the business, we had to avoid or minimise the risks of disrupting our existing client base, and the services they consume. We simply had to keep the lights on while we refreshed our service portfolio and assimilated new technologies.
To mitigate these, and other business risks related to technological change and the launch of new services, we developed a standard process for the adoption of new technologies and partners. This included the full development lifecycle to progress from ‘market need’ to a ‘generally available’ production service.
This process spans the entire organisation touching on every functional area of the business. Depending on the size and scale of the assimilation, it can take days, weeks or even months, to come out of the incubator stream of high-intensity focus, to a standard production take on.
The technology incubator process is governed through stage review gates, at each critical milestone to ensure everything is progressing correctly and the business value proposition is still relevant. Transition Managers oversee the process and provide stakeholder reporting in the same way that we would for any other change program.
Where the technology or service assimilation involves supporting a new provider like a hyperscaler’s public cloud services it gets more complicated. With self-service and pay-as-you-go billing built into its very fabric, we made the decision from the start that we would modify our commercial models for management services, services portfolio, and service delivery functions to match those of the individual provider.
By aligning to the providers’ charging model, it ensures we provide a frictionless experience to our clients who layer CSI’s value-added services on top of the public cloud services. This alignment is critical and by providing a similar, agile, and dynamic experience around cloud managed services, consumption billing, security, and change our clients benefit from the relationship.
Managed Services for Workloads in the Public Cloud
For example, if a client workload is running in a public cloud and managed by CSI through our managed service, their support contract will be based on a fixed percentage of their monthly spend with the public cloud provider.
We call this “FlexSupport” and our service offering has three levels of service for clients to choose from; Basic, Standard, and Advanced.
The features and service level agreements (SLAs) attached to each service ranges from break-fix support to full managed services. The advanced service option includes complete daily backup of the environment under management, alongside continuous replication to a secondary availability zone or region, as well as annual disaster recovery testing.
FlexSupport is CSI’s flexible managed services solution. It has been designed to grow with you, as your business expands or downsizes, your support costs will flex with your needs.
We offer the same FlexSupport SLAs and service management levels across each of the hyperscale cloud providers we support:
- Microsoft Azure
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- IBM Cloud
- Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
As an example, CSI FlexFlexSupport for Microsoft Azure includes:
FlexSupport packages are designed to manage, operate, protect and secure your entire public cloud footprint with your chosen providers.
Our aim is simple; we want to support our clients by leaving you free to focus on what adds value to your business and no longer have the distractions of simply “keeping the lights on”.
Hybrid and Multi Cloud Managed Services
Our public cloud services are further complemented by our private CSI PowerCloud which supports x86 and IBM Power Systems workloads.
This allows our clients a choice when it comes to the decisions regarding where to run their workloads and data.
Selecting the right platform requires matching the workloads’ resource footprint and performance characteristics, with the right services whilst also fully accommodating the organisations governance, regulatory requirements and data policies.
Aligning requirements to resource pools and ensuring everything works together with automated secure deployments is what we do regularly for financial institutions, ISVs and clients worldwide. Everything we do has governance baked in at every layer, alongside best practice so that even the most highly regulated businesses can concentrate on consuming the benefits.
The focus and service you receive will be consistent, whether you want services for on-premises systems, in our private CSI PowerCloud or within a hyperscale cloud providers platform.
Blog by Jason Normanton, Head of Cloud Services