No matter how you view it – good, bad or indifferent – cloud computing is changing the IT outsourcing market. I think cloud computing’s effects on IT outsourcing will be ultimately good, for the purveyors and customers… as long as the investments and initiatives are smart, strategic and well-planned.
For a thorough look at how cloud computing is changing IT outsourcing, I suggest you head on over to this fantatastic article by CIO.com’s Stephanie Overby.
Earlier this week, I spoke with Satish Joshi, executive VP and global head of technology & innovation with global IT services provider Patni, which is headquarted in Mumbai, India but has offices around the world.
Patni has already begun investments in cloud computing, and will be rolling out new services in 2011. In fact, it has been reported that Patni will launch cloud computing as a separate service line in the first quarter, and that it will be a key focus area for the company.
In 2009, Patni unveiled its Cloud Acceleration Program (CAP), designed to give independent service providers and application developers a structured, business-driven approach to cloud-based solutions. The company already runs its core internal applications, such as ERP, finance, HR, project management and resource management, in a virtualized cloud environment. In August, the company began researching how it could begin transition its application portfolio to a public cloud, and expects to be completed by February 2011.
As more of its customers begin the transition to the cloud, Patni is adjusting its business to reflect their needs. Case in point: if customers move their own applications to the cloud, they will no longer need infrastructure outsourcing services, because there will be no infrastructure, says Joshi. Of course, it’s not likely that any business is going to shift its entire IT portfolio to the public cloud, and thus will continue to build out and run private clouds as well.
“Transformation has two parts,” Joshi says. Patni is partnering with public cloud providers (at the moment it is working closely with Amazon) so it can cater to a customer’s IT processes and services that will be amenable to and profitable in a public cloud environment. “There will always be a part of portfolio that stays in house, at least for the next few years, and that opens up opportunities for us to help build private cloud environments and help transition portfolios to those clouds,” Joshi says.
There’s plenty of work to be done, he notes. While many organizations have made the first (and important) step toward private clouds via virtualization, they have yet to move to self-provisioning services or load blancing. “They aren’t yet realizing all the benefits of the private cloud. Right now they are just reducing footprints,” he says.
Another pertinent area Patni is investing in is the idea of delivering traditional application management and custom development services in a cloud environment. For example, Patni could provide, as part of its third-party testing services, a cloud-based testing environment (typically, the customer has to acquire the testing environment). “The testing environment can become a part of our services and the customer doesn’t’ have to acquire that. The customer can provision that in the cloud we provide.”
Patni isn’t just looking at expected ways to leverage cloud computing both internally and as part of its offerings. One idea – which is in the proof-of-concept phase – is helping medical equipment manufacturers create private clouds via virtualization built around the high-performance computing (HPC) processors (such as scanning and diagnostic equipment) already in place in healthcare organizations. “With scanning equipment, there might be four hours of process, and then the rest of the time the computer equipment is idle. Can we put a virtualization area in there and make it available to run other applications in the hospital, such as reporting,” Joshi says.
Another idea Patni is Another idea Patni is exploring: leveraging a cloud to deliver disaster recovery services. “You can provision virtual machines, put on the applications, then mothball them and store them at very minimal costs,” Joshi says. “If you integrate them with the primary services, you’ll be able to very quickly recover your systems at a very significant reduction of cost,” compared with traditional disaster recovery plans that typically include hot standbys and heavy-duty backup systems.