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Selling cloud to the board

Byron Connolly | Oct. 28, 2014
"I’ve never viewed cloud as being necessarily cheaper, but I’ve always seen it as being more efficient," says carsales.com.au's CIO Ajay Bhatia.

"So for 95 per cent of those images, for 60 minutes, we don't see an outage," he says. "During that time, we can move our back-end Azure serving to another country and I've done that twice within one year and no-one has known about the outage."

Ease of disaster recovery, time to market for new services, and only paying for what you use are the three most compelling reasons why it made sense for the organisation to use a public cloud service.

"I've never viewed cloud as being necessarily cheaper, but I've always seen it as being more efficient," he says. "You pay for what you use and that is the whole argument."

Reporting losses to the executive

Carsales.com.au, an ASX-100 company with a market capitalisation of between $2 billion and $3 billion, charges car dealers for the number of leads its delivers.

"If our site is down, we don't get the ads and we don't get the money," said Bhatia. "So we can easily measure the impact of not having the site live."

Bhatia stresses that simply reporting outages is not enough. Instead, an analyst put together metrics that illustrate to the board how much money the organisation will lose if its websites are down during peak and off peak times.

"In many cases, let's say, if farmmachinerysales.com.au is down, consumers do come back if it's only down for one hour," he says. "They will come back the next hour and we may not lose the full hours' worth of revenue. But the way we report is always a potential loss — so it's the worst case scenario."

Carsales.com.au uses a business impact rating (BIR) to calculate the business impact risk of outages. These impacts and their severity re reported to the board each month.

"Each [BIR] is $1000 potential loss and that's become the currency around the board," he says.

These metrics are not about winning business but creating fear, he says.

"It was about putting that metric in the board report for months and months and starting that conversation throughout that metric. And then the board started to talk to me rather than me talk to them," he says.

 

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