Another public cloud champion is Jayanta Prabhu, CTO, Essar Group. Prabhu also wants to reap the benefits of reduced capex and scalability when he looks to expand his presence on the public cloud.
"Going forward, I have aggressive plans to increase the number of apps on--Microsoft's public cloud platform--from four to 10," says Prabhu. "We are also evaluating the possibility of moving SAP to the cloud."
Today, going to the cloud for specific business applications can surely be a cost efficient strategy. M.G. Raghuraman, CIO, Mphasis, says that Mphasis reaped significant cost benefits when he opted to deploy a cloud-based on-demand solution for his CRM system. Through this CRM tool--which has also been integrated with their enterprise applications--Raghuraman says that the company is now able to manage and track the entire sales life cycle, from lead generation to opportunity, right up to finalizing the deal.
"I pay Oracle on a pay-per-use model based on the number of licenses deployed. This helped me cut initial investment costs during implementation and also provided me the flexibility to ramp up based on additional business requirements," says Raghuraman.
Another advantage that Raghuraman gained out of opting for this solution is that it was quick to implement and therefore it reduced his time-to-market.
There's no doubt that the issues surrounding public clouds have over-shadowed the various benefits that it offers. From vague SLAs to infrequent availability, and from security to vendor-lock in, the public cloud's shortcomings can't be ignored.
When opting to implement a public cloud solution, Prabhu says there are a bunch of hurdles that CIOs need to cross. "Contracts management is a big concern with public cloud service providers. Appropriate SLAs, availability and performance uptime are still far from being precise. However, this is expected to improve gradually."
However, Raghuraman points out that there is an inherent lack of flexibility to customize cloud-based applications as you would see on on-premise enterprise applications; and this is a factor CIOs must keep in mind when opting for cloud strategy. There is a clear trade-off between time to market and customization. Fortunately for Raghuraman, the CRM tool that he chose had most of the features he wanted, and he only had to customize very minimally. He also cited possible degradation in application performance as an additional reason for not opting to overly customize a cloud application. "These cloud apps have been tailored to suit the most prevalent business processes and the best practices in the industry. So, if we use any cloud app as it is, we will perhaps get the best performance. However, if you start customizing it, then it would adversely affect performance and speed although you will get the additional functionality. So you always have to make the best compromise between the level of customization which you need and the performance of the cloud application. As a practice, my strategy is not to fiddle around and do too much customization on a cloud-based application," says Raghuraman.
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