Published: February 18th, 2015

Total cost of ownership, operational costs and integration are the three most underrated considerations for businesses moving into the cloud, according to CenturyLink Canada.

At a conference in Toronto, the Monroe, La.-based telecommunications and cloud provider discussed key factors that must go into any decision to transition to the cloud.

Among them, these three were highlighted by Richard Seroter, director of product at CenturyLink Cloud.

“How do you factor in all your costs, the people, the software, the operations and all that?” Seroter told CDN.

He explained that most companies simply run cloud calculators but that is not a representation of the real costs, which are people.  It’s an area that, try as they might, a cloud provider can’t help a company figure out.

“How many people do you have staffed, you have to subject them to training, you have to hire consultants?” he said.  “People ask all the time, and we have a TCO calculator, but even then it only includes technology things like storage backups.  We can’t estimate whether you need ten admins or you need one.”

Seroter said that companies can either determine these numbers the traditional way by looking at people, software and hardware costs, or they can try an activity-based approach based on app or department.

“Not just what do I spend on email, but what does HR spend on email? How many users do they have compared to how much the infrastructure costs me?  It’s much more transparent that just saying ‘I spend $12 million on software,'” he said, adding that companies using traditional IT with no automation will have a very different cost structure than one that does.

In terms of operational costs, the second consideration, Seroter said that moving to cloud alone does not speed up the work process.

Companies should use the opportunity to streamline processes and revisit the way they do operations.  It can be hard to accept, when policies such as in the case of compliance, where Seroter says the well-intentioned bureaucracy that’s been built over time is no longer serving the purpose.

Thirdly, when considering integration, companies need to avoid treating cloud operations as a separate entity or risk creating another silo devoid of analytics, Seroter said.

“It should be a logical extension.  [Cloud] should be integrated with all the same tools, coupled with your single sign-on and identity, but that takes a real investment, and if you think that’s going to magically happen, you’re going to be frustrated.”