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Evalueserve’s Stairway to the Cloud – Strategy for Cloud Adoption

by tapangarg on March 3, 2011

Sachin Jain, CIO, Evalueserve isn’t new to the benefits of Cloud computing. The clouds lured him in the nineties and now, the pull is no less. The young CIO is clearly an old hand at determining what drives his business. In the past, he has leveraged outsourced IT services in the public domain successfully. Today, Jain is all set to adopt the Cloud yet again, with a well thought of strategy and delivery plan.

The core

Evalueserve is a leading player in the KPO domain. The organization provides custom research and analytics services to clients across the globe. The high-end research work adds value to their clients in knowledge management and needs to be meticulously delivered. Says Jain, “We operate from five research offices, two in Gurgoan, and one each in China, Romania, and Chile. Of the 2100 users globally, 1700 operate from India. We need to ensure seamless IT systems connectivity and infrastructure across all these locations – whether it is the intranet, instant messenger, email or video-conferencing, etc.”

The move to the Cloud

Seeking a solution for IT consistency across Evalueserve’s geographically dispersed office locations, Jain leveraged “co-located data centers”in the US. “We host most of our applications on these public-domain servers, both for internal use, as well as for our clients.” It started with Rackspace in the year 2000, because Jain did not want heavy investments in infrastructure at the time.

With steady growth, came more applications, web portals, and IT solutions for clients, with more than 20 servers being used for internal and client consumption at present. A dedicated software team supports the customer intelligence portals (research dashboards, tools, and websites) hosted on these servers, to provide IT services to clients, “In effect, it has been a mix of PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS, that we have been using for over a decade. In the present scenario, this is a structured offering and has taken the shape of the Cloud.”

The upward pull

For Jain, the attraction has always been cost and manageability; apart from other value adds and bundling of services. To him, a Cloud strategy begins with the decision on whether an organization really needs one. “It is totally requirement driven. Immediate advantages stem as soon as you do a cost-benefit analysis –for companies who do not want to invest in people and infrastructure, you get to pay for what you use. There is no need to build your own infrastructure and recruit people to manage it. Of course, if you have a large operational set up, Cloud adoption may take some time.”

“I started by identifying what I can move first. The logical choice was to look at moving what is already in the public domain i.e. the co-located data centers. I am managing three services from there and paying for it, so I can certainly move that… most of the applications have been developed in .NET and can be moved to the Azure platform easily. Moreover, end users are already used to a certain type of response from these applications and it will not impact end user experience” adds Jain.

Further, Evalueserve is also looking to create a Private Cloud for internal use. This can be accessed by all their offices, in and outside India.“Starting with virtualization, we will create a Cloud for our software team, internal applications, business groups, and for customized reporting. Computing power consumed will be metered and capacity utilization will be measured. We will follow this by a Public Cloud of sorts, for all Evalueserve’s clients. In effect, the organization will leverage a hybrid model, adopted over a period of six months.”

Stopovers on the climb

Jain’s critical success factors in the climb to the Cloud include performance and security. – in our industry, we need a water-tight solution in terms of performance and security. “Productivity and efficiency are pre-defined numbers in our industry, as we bill clients on an hourly basis.”

Another determinant is the maturity of the solution. Therefore, Evalueserve’s adoption will begin with moving the less critical applications first – research portals, websites, and partner, branch, and reseller portals, etc. The critical applications such as ERP, and business-critical apps related to analytics and business intelligence, would only come next. The big advantage of the move however, would be the IT helpdesk service management from the Cloud providers. Not to mention, licenses for the general risk and compliance dashboards, which the Cloud vendor would take care of. Adds Jain, “We won’t need to manage day-to-day operations, hardware and software licenses, etc. as it is all there on the Windows Azure platform. In the co-located data centers, I needed to take care of all this, including patches and firewalling. Moreover, I had the onus of paying a fixed monthly charge, irrespective of use. With the Cloud, it is like an electricity meter that ticks as per use.

Given the nature of his industry, Jain’s big deciding factors however, still remain his clients and their acceptance of Public Cloud for their BI portals. This is specially relevant for financial services companies.

Soaring high

While Jain is optimistic himself, he wants other CIOs to cut the waiting time too, “Don’t wait and watch, experience it. Start with a small strategy. If it works, fly with it, else drop the idea!” In line with Evaluserve’s business philosophy, a strategic adoption would be incomplete without the business analytics to support the case… so Jain is gung-ho on collecting results from the word “go” – performance, adoption rate, utilization, change management effort, and what have you.

Certainly, a well planned strategy that hopes to ‘serve value’ to the business.

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