Wouldn’t it be great if your cloud was able to print or at least dispense cold-hard cash? In many ways it can, if implemented properly. I don’t have all the answers for you right now, but what I can say is that an ATM is similar to a cloud in many ways. Perhaps from this perspective, you can gain better insight into the business value provided by embracing a cloud infrastructure.
1) An ATM enables self-service.
The true value of self-service is with the user. With an ATM, you can accomplish your goals and get on with your life much quicker than standing in line and waiting for a person to check your account, counting the coins. You don’t have to wait in line for the bank teller to argue with the person in front of you about their over-drafted account, or talk about last week’s winner of Dancing with the Stars. As a society, this is what we want: a quick solution to our problem. From a business perspective, this quick solution is of great value also. ATM does the job for business too! All a business has to do is buy some bulky metallic boxes, bolt them to the floor, and businesses have instantly reduced their lines.
Properly designed cloud architecture provides a similar experience, allowing someone to request and gain access to resources without the need to interact with a person. This approach removes some of the interpersonal elements of a business relationship while providing direct access to what is really needed.
2) An ATM speeds up processes.
Today’s banking world is focused on efficiency and speed. Customers have come to expect these traits from banks, much like the cloud. An ATM dynamically and securely provisions money on demand and is tailored to customer requirements. It delivers on location and requires very little interaction. Customers would be frustrated if they made a withdrawal request at an ATM only to be asked to return the following day or next week to get the money.
The cloud is changing this process for IT Infrastructure also. You no longer have to wait for days, or even weeks, to gain access to a new server or application. In many cases, this access can now be delivered in a matter of minutes. This approach allows businesses to be much more agile and able to react to changing demands of the market they support without needing to reinvent their IT departments each time.
3) An ATM reduces management complexity.
An ATM is significantly easier to manage than a human. ATMs don’t get sick, although you could argue they occasionally call in sick to work if suffering from hardware failure or low cash inventory. ATMs require neither motivational support nor coaching, and never get in arguments. Some people might argue with the ATM, but like a true professional, it never argues back with the customer.
Cloud provides a similar advantage for businesses. The complexity of setting up and tearing down systems is greatly reduced and mostly (or completely) automated. With cloud, these services can be available at times a person might not be available. Management is able to focus on core business aspects and not worry as much about their IT. In many cases, almost all technical aspects of a business can be outsourced to the cloud. This approach allows reducing head count in IT shops to basic desk-side support numbers — or in the case of the ATM, a maintenance technician.