After a good experience the first time it dipped its toes into the water of cloud computing, global IT staffing and services company Digital Intelligence Systems (DISYS) has implemented a comprehensive cloud policy. The company, with 650 employees and 4,000 independent consultants worldwide, aims to move 80 to 90 percent of all applications and IT infrastructure to software as a service (SaaS) and public cloud models over the next eight to nine months.
"We started using SaaS apps and the cloud in late 2011," explains IT infrastructure manager Collin Hachwi, "but the real adoption started in late 2012 with the build of our private cloud and expansion of SaaS."
The key to DISYS's success has been in a policy that allows for the best use of cloud technologies no matter where the need comes from.
"In some cases IT is making recommendations, and in other cases, end-users start using apps or services in their departments," Hachwi says. "We can then review the situation to see if it's something that can be added to the full corporate service catalog."
DISYS's policy is for the IT function to collaborate with end-users in cloud service selection, and avoid situations where the IT function could independently choose new applications, services, or infrastructure then force it on users. Consequently, ongoing take-up of cloud services should go smoothly.
"There must be context to the decision and it should be relayed to internal users clearly," Hachwi says.
This approach provides an opportunity to expose the company and staff to best practice, and DISYS has selected technology partners and implementations carefully. The result has been a reduction in delivery times and cost, while IT security has improved and the IT department is kept relatively small.
Advice to others considering cloud: "Using an identity management tool (IdM) to centralise management and increase security is key to a successful cloud rollout," says IT infrastructure manager Collin Hachwi.
"We use OneLogin as our IdM [identity management] and single sign-on solution for all our SaaS apps. OneLogin lets us manage user identities across all devices and apps and we're able to restrict access to an app based on role, enforce security policies, support multi-factor authentication, audit user activity, and most importantly de-provision users in real-time across all assigned apps and services."
Hachwi says cloud adoption is an 'all or nothing game'. He advises starting with easy applications like mail, productivity tools, or a low-priority web app to get management and users used to the idea, clearly explaining the reasons and costs.
"Not everyone is going to support the move, including some members of IT," he says. "But once they see the benefits they'll help champion it. Work with the end users too – if they're seen as a partner they'll come to you with the services they find or want to use. Otherwise they're just going to out and get them on their own."