The Viewfinder

IT Firm Gives Customers Long View of Cloud

From IT World Canada

Not every business is at the same place in its journey to cloud, and IT consultancy Long View Systems is helping customers at every step along their trek, with an eye on agility and future- proofing.

With a history of more than 13 years serving the Calgary oil and gas market, but now with SMB to enterprise clients across a broad range of industries and geographies, Long View has become one of North America’s foremost providers of IT consulting, outsourcing solutions, and cloud services. Businesses come to Long View for the recognized expertise of its more than 1,000 employees, its focus on value and client service excellence.

They especially come to Long View for its experience in cloud. In 2011, the company was the first in Canada to build an HP Cloud Centre of Excellence, in which its customers and prospects can experience HP Converged Infrastructure and cloud solutions for themselves. It can help those businesses see the opportunity and find justification for cloud migrations, given the tight budgets faced by most.

“It’s one thing to talk about benefits and have ROI numbers,” says Dave Frederickson, vice-president of business development, “But it’s a completely different thing to see just how quickly an Exchange server can be provisioned, taken down and then reallocated to another workload.”

Frederickson says customers are adopting a cloud model at their own speeds, based on size, industry and situations. Still, he adds, “everyone is trying to understand how to integrate a cloud offering into their current infrastructure.”

The firm’s enterprise customers, in many cases, had already turned to cloud-based architectures for their testing and development environments. They are now looking to transition to other workloads. For these customers, the initial proof of the power of cloud has come easily.

“Testing and development has proved to provide significant ROI, because it’s traditionally a significant cost they have to burn, and it’s onlyover a finite period of time,” Frederickson says. “Plus, typically, the next project can’t even leverage the development environment because the needs will be dramatically different and they have a tough time rolling it back out to production again.”

By not having to burden themselves with the capital equipment costs, Long View customers using the cloud for testing and development have been able to see at least 30 per cent ROI, and in some cases much more; however, it’s not just about cutting costs. Agility and speed-to-market play major roles in these businesses’ cloud adoption.

“It improves their agility and that provides competitive advantage,” Frederickson says. “They’re now able to get to revenue faster, and able to get a service to the customers more quickly. It’s harder to measure, but what increase in revenue does that increase in customer satisfaction create?”

It’s significant enough that even if there weren’t savings from migrating development to the cloud, many of Long View’s enterprise customers would still take the plunge just for the time-to-revenue benefits, he says.

In the mid-range, Frederickson notes customers have had a bigger preponderance to put more workloads on the cloud, “but again, it’s a thing in transition.” And, of course, smaller customers without existing legacy infrastructure are fast to see the benefits a cloud architecture brings them. For most of its customers, the shift to cloud-based IT has been driven by business unit needs.

There are a number of examples where Long View customers are also turning to cloud computing to solve some “pretty complex” challenges. One in particular that he says has seen good results is to overcome the uncontrollable sprawl from mobility.

“Mobility demand has created almost a nuisance for the customers, and the sprawl was something they were unable to control, and we were able to use cloud to take that off their hands,” he says. “They were no longer able to fight the whole BYOD (bring your own device) trend, and we were able to port the whole thing over, do the consultation work to bring people up to speed, as well as handle things from an infrastructure perspective.”

Consulting around people and processes has been a crucial component of the work Long View has done in its clients’ cloud migrations. In fact, one of Frederickson’s suggestions for a reason for IT organizations to begin to look into the cloud now, if they aren’t doing so already, is to begin to change people’s mindsets and break down the silos of that exist between servers, storage and network. It helps to ease the transition.

For Long View and its customers it’s not about changing infrastructure, Frederickson notes. “You’ve got to redesign how people operate, and it’s very customized for each business. There is no cookiecutter. You have to do an assessment and inventory of the knowledge and skill sets and remap them to a cloud approach.”

Here, HP Converged Infrastructure, such as HP BladeSystem and Matrix Operating Environment, helps. It lets LongView provide its customers with an architecture that meets today’s needs, but is flexible, so it can serve as foundation for implementing future virtualization and cloud computing strategies. Frederickson says feedback from customers with whom Long View has deployed Cloud System Matrix has been positive.

“The initial feedback has been that they’ve seen huge speed and agility improvements in their ability to deploy services and applications to their customers— the business units—but also showing early signs of a really solid ROI.”

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