Whilst it will take some time to position cloud-based ICT service delivery firmly in the minds of decision makers, there is evidence to suggest that general appreciation for a "non-touch" delivery model is gaining momentum. Managed ICT service providers believe it may not be that long before the more traditional means of infrastructure management and application is taken over.

The way in which ICT services are managed and sold has changed, says Robert Sussman, joint CEO of the Integr8 Group, South Africa’s largest privately owned ICT managed services provider.
“The fact is that companies now have more choice in terms of how they manage their infrastructure, how much responsibility they would like to take on and what level of support they want to invest in.
“In the past, the market generally moved from having complete control over infrastructure and managing and maintaining systems and processes in house, to having an outsourced partner on board. With time, and as costs became less prohibitive, we have seen a gradual move towards ‘co-sourcing’, which allows for a certain degree of management but without the burden of responsibility,” he continues.
According to Sussman, the corporate network space has matured and the result is the advent of cloud-based services and virtual management of infrastructure.
It is plausible that companies, across a broad spectrum of industry and of virtually any size, are able to leverage off related integrated technologies and benefit from the evolution of their infrastructure.
“Cloud based managed service delivery means that decision makers can tap into a host of valuable resources, those that may have been unattainable in the past. Everything from disaster recovery functionality, converged communications and enterprise messaging, to ISP services and security is literally at people’s fingertips,” says Bradley Adams, Integr8 professional services, Integr8.
Genuine benefit in heading for the cloud
Representing an established service provider within the managed ICT services space, Integr8’s Sussman points out that there is still a great deal of misperception and confusion about cloud based service delivery.
He warns those eager to embrace the technology that it is imperative to consider the nature of the business, core requirements, objectives and strategy before simply investing.
“There are two different forms/variants of cloud-based services – private and public. It is important for would-be investors to understand these. In terms of the private model, this allows for more customisation and the cloud services provider can ensure customisation to the core application.
"In the case of a public model, the core application remains constant to all customers that access it. It allows for more API into the application and thus a limited amount of customisation,” adds Sussman.
But, as is the case with technology, the right infrastructure in the right place for the right reasons – and the model can truly bolster business.
“There are many examples, but to use a generic and very good example of a business service that typifies the advantage of cloud based or SaaS service, we could look at fax-to-e-mail. Many companies are moving over from having this service onsite to acquiring it on a cloud/virtualised basis. E-mail is one of the primary applications to move into the cloud and Gmail could be considered a powerful example of this.”
The link between cloud based service and a dynamic, strategic and highly efficient network and data centre environment is clear. Now it is simply a case of falling in line and going with the advantage, say specialists.