The journey to as-a-service

With more businesses transitioning their data and mission-critical applications to the cloud, acquiring IT products and technology infrastructure through as-a-service, subscription-based models is becoming a dominant force in the enterprise space. In this piece, Tony Lomax, Marketing Manager at Lexmark, explains the as-a-service impact on the IT department.

The benefits are well documented, with the promise of improved cost controls, enhanced security, greater agility, and the ability to add strategic value through access to the latest technologies, all driving increased market momentum.

Joining other consultants pointing to traction in this space, Deloitte Global estimates that Enterprises will spend around 50% of their IT budgets on pay-per-use services by 2022. A clear indicator that traditional, licensed technology, deployed on-premise, is losing its paramount position.

For IT teams, this transformation in the way IT is delivered, is forcing them to evolve.

They are being challenged by their organizations to identify new ideas and develop perspectives on how as-a-service solutions can align with business needs, while at the same time ensuring the successful implementation of these new cloud-based solutions.

The challenge is that they are already faced with an endless ‘to-do list’; addressing security risks from an increasingly complex threat landscape; maintaining uptime of overloaded technology infrastructures; enabling their businesses to increase productivity while minimising expenditure – the list goes on.

The ITaaS revolution

Historically, the IT department’s job was the building and maintaining of large data centres which ‘housed’ a business’s backend systems. Order fulfilment took a long time and the priority was to keep the operational environment stable at all costs, which is another way of saying it was inflexible and slow.

In contrast, when it comes to the cloud-based offerings that are replacing traditional on-premise technology, today’s IT teams are required to evaluate and make recommendations on a growing and diverse set of products and services that might be delivered from anywhere in the world. As the central data server is replaced by a directory of cloud services delivered remotely throughout the enterprise to be consumed by users directly, IT must learn how to select and manage them whilst still looking after security, availability, performance, cost and more.

ITaaS IT as a Service (ITaaS) solutions are a popular choice for IT teams because they provide support by moving much of the security, availability and performance burden onto the cloud provider. Cloud Print Infrastructure as a Service –CIP – is a good example of this as rather than owning and managing a physical print infrastructure with all its accompanying service cost, customers simply pay for what they use.

A new approach to enterprise print

CPI is one illustration of how the ITaaS model is completely transforming the way traditional services are delivered. Providing enterprise print users with access to a modern secure print environment through a subscription service where the physical infrastructure required to support the printing environment – including on-premises print servers, print server provisioning, driver deployment and user management – is eliminated.

Instead of sending documents through a print server to a designated print device, they are transferred to the cloud service provider where they are held until a user logs in or swipes their badge (authenticates) at the printer. Cloud-connected device settings, compliance, firmware updates and data collection are all monitored and managed remotely.

With printer fleets owned and managed by a CPI provider, capital expenditure becomes a thing of the past and IT teams are freed from the time it takes to research and specify devices for RFP cycles.

Complex contracts no longer feature, as the provider does the hard work of creating hardware deployment plans designed to address use patterns, security protections and future print and scan needs – all of which can be easily scaled over time to meet changing needs.

CPI also supports IT with automated smart IoT connected services such as just-in-time supplies fulfilment and anticipating the need for intervention to help avoid downtime. By offering access to live performance, analytics and governance data the IT team can continually monitor performance and drill down to device-level detail on all important aspects of their printer fleet.

An evolving role for IT

The benefits of the cloud service era – self-service and automated policy enforcement to name just a few – should not mean that IT teams can let ITaaS solutions run unfettered. IT’s role in this cloud service world is just as vital as it’s always been but it is evolving into being responsible for capacity planning, ensuring usage and billing are reconciled, IT governance and, in the example of CPI, to focus on the print capacity they need while the rest is taken care of.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine