Over the last six months I’ve managed more marathon meetings with more CIOs than at any other time in my career. Without fail, the common challenge keeping them all awake at night is the pressure to increase efficiency and capabilities while reining-in costs.
Each session uncovers the same goals. After much talking, questioning, analysis and interrogation (on both sides!) about streamlining their geospatial resources, one solution consistently meets their brief: Cloud GIS.
What was once relegated to “we might look at that in the future” capability has quickly become “we need this now – how soon can you do it?”
No matter how big or small the organisation, whether commercial or government, I consistently find four common themes that resonate with CIOs when it comes to discussing Cloud GIS.
The first of these pillars is scalability; the capability most commonly associated with Cloud GIS – the scope to add or remove resources to meet changing organisational needs. For example, the ability to scale the environment up during high customer demand periods, or, to accommodate changing numbers of users if you have a provisional workforce. This scalability helps create a lean, waste-free model that fits an organisation's need at any given time.
The second pillar is flexibility, which includes the capacity for fast deployment. Organisations need to have an agile environment to which they can add new technology, easily turn production or non-production environments on or off as work scales up or down, or to change their infrastructure requirements as their business evolves.
Flexibility flows over into how a Cloud solution is funded; a major benefit realised when moving GIS to the Cloud is the capacity to move the GIS budget from CAPEX to OPEX.
The third pillar is cost. This is defined by the fact that in the Cloud, organisations can deploy for what they need, eliminating unnecessary technology and improving overall ROI. Considering the overall cost of an in-house or enterprise set up, the value of having an OPEX budget, combined with lower IT costs usually works out as a more fiscally responsible option. If you’re going to start talking to your business about a Cloud deployment, you really need to think about the total cost of ownership of a project – from start to finish. We can help forecast these costs based on your organisation’s needs.
The fourth pillar is risk minimisation. Does your organisation need high availability for improved business continuity? What about failover and redundancy backup? If your internal infrastructure fell over, how quickly could you respond (and how quickly do you need to respond)? These are all questions that impact the type of Cloud architecture that will best suit your organisation.
These pillars form the foundation of a successful Cloud GIS, creating the basis for the technical architecture that supports it.
Once an organisation makes the decision to move to Cloud GIS, we see two very distinct paths to implementation – trends that are echoed by our partners such as Amazon and Microsoft.
Government and commercial: comparing pathways
Businesses looking at implementing Cloud GIS capability tend to move an entire system – a complete IT infrastructure.
The value of Cloud for commercial organisations is most often driven by transformational, organisation-wide change.
These organisations often need to drive cost savings to meet a transformation in the products or services they’re offering, and subsequently cast a wider net for Cloud implementation – along with aggressive deadlines. In the commercial world, an organisational-wide Cloud transformation can secure a significant competitive advantage.
Government clients, on the other hand, take a more incremental approach to Cloud transformation. This makes sense when you consider the driving imperatives of any government department: stability of service and community confidence.
Government agencies tend to start with a very specific application that will be used as a test case – the exemplar to ensure that stakeholders – and the community – are comfortable with the outcome, and that the risk level is acceptable and viable.
Once that level of confidence is approved, government agencies will begin to expand their Cloud footprint, backed by the data from the initial rollout.
Even though the journeys and the timeframes may differ, commercial and government clients alike end up in the same place with the same benefits and outcomes: a cost-effective, scalable, flexible and responsive Cloud GIS.
At the macro level, these pillars are the key considerations we recommend when you’re considering moving your GIS into the Cloud.
To help find out if Cloud GIS is the right solution for your organisation, check out our FAQs here.