Cloud use management unlocks value-add for SMBs

Tools that help monitor and adjust usage are key to whether small and midsize businesses save money or bear more costs from cloud adoption.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Particularly for midsize organizations, maximizing value out of every IT dollar spent on cloud means having the capability to monitor and manage their cloud service usage or the bill could turn hefty in the long term.

The cloud model of pay only for what you use is a good one for companies, but what is key is how to efficiently manage the peaks and troughs of that usage, said Stuart Long, CTO of systems division for Asia-Pacific and Japan at Oracle.

In an interview Tuesday, Long noted whether cloud adoption brings more savings or costs in the long run boils down to the "management piece [of the puzzle]". That onus is on companies, and not their third-party cloud service provider, he added.

"The cloud service provider doesn't tell you how you to manage your cloud users and usage efficiently. It just charges you according to the number of users you sign up for. [So, for customers] it's about the ability to know what's going on and getting the best business returns from cloud spend to more competitively compete," the CTO said.

Long used an example of a mobile data subscriber. The subscriber still pays the same monthly fee even if data use is zero or very little. However, if he could figure out for himself how to take best advantage of data use, he will not have to deprive himself of, say, watching Web videos on his smartphone and will also not bust the data cap.

In short, unless companies understand their businesses' and their customers' cloud needs and have the tools to act on that knowledge, they end up paying to use cloud statically and over time, this becomes expensive, he pointed out.

Being able to efficiently adjust and manage cloud use gives increased agility which is critical to small and midsize businesses (SMBs) for better competitiveness and economies of scale, Long said. This is particularly so for midsize companies--those with 250 to 1,000 employees--because they bank on their ability to provide better service delivery, flexibility and engagement 24-7 to customers, in order to differentiate from big players.

Yet, the limited IT budget and manpower often mean limited access and knowledge to use such tools that allow strategic utilization of cloud in the first place. The reason is these are sophisticated capabilities typically only available in high-end products targeted at large enterprises, the Oracle CTO pointed out.

Long said the vendor wants to bridge that gap by providing the same high-end features and functions for cloud use management on both its public cloud and private cloud offerings. For example, midsize customers can have a private Oracle cloud optimized for their regular base load in their own environment, and only during the occasional intensive peak season, "burst out" to use Oracle's public cloud.

Long said he has observed midsize customers experience a similar cloud adoption journey. "They go out and use cloud, then overuse it, and go back to ask how much is cloud costing me and am I able to make better advantage of it…And they consider bringing it back [in-house] and doing it at far lower cost."

This kind of redefinition of value-add is characteristic of midsize companies--they pick and choose, instead of just being satisfied with full end-to-end solutions that vendors try and sell, he noted.

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