The technical services group of Capgemini has traditionally helped companies with system integration, but cloud computing is changing that. The company is increasingly assembling lots of different software-as-a-service applications, a phenomenon that has led Capgemini to create a new business unit.
"We have a very large blue-chip firm in the UK for whom we have just assembled 16 different software-as-a-service solutions to provide the overall shop window," said David Boulter, vice president of Capgemini's new Infostructure Transformation Services, which launched on Monday.
Service assembly has gone from a niche into something more mainstream, according Boulter. The integration of software-as-a-service applications is more of a business issue than a technical one. For example, providing a single SLA (Service Level Agreement) for the client, Boulter said.
If done successfully, service assembly will help companies differentiate themselves from the competition and cut the time it takes to develop new offerings, according to Boulter.
The Infostructure Transformation Services will help companies make the move to the cloud, from optimising and consolidating data centres, to implementing virtualisation and finally moving to cloud services - in either public or private clouds, or a mix of the two. The timing of the launch has to do with the fact that Capgemini is seeing real demand from its customers around the world for cloud computing and services and that the company now has experience in the area, according to Boulter.
"If we were having this discussion a year ago, I think we would have said it was an interesting hype, but that we haven't quite worked it out yet and we haven't got enough experience," said Boulter.
Ultimately, all companies will use aspects of cloud computing and services. However, companies shouldn't rush to start using the cloud, according to Boulter. Whether or not it makes sense to move an application to the cloud depends a lot on a company's business model for the application in question. If there is a lot of variable demand on the application, then it can make sense to move the application to the cloud, Boulter said.
But for a number business sectors that is not a valid advantage, because the volumes their systems have to handle are fairly stable, according to Boulter. Also, a lot of companies' legacy applications can't be cloud-enabled, he said.
"It doesn't fit all, so we have to distinguish the hype from the reality in terms of its appropriateness," said Boulter.
There has always been a need for the IT department and the business side of a company to communicate effectively, and a move to cloud-services does not change that.
The fact that the business side can go directly to a software-as-a-service provider and bypass the IT department is a problem, according to Boulter. The CIO is still responsible for data protection irrespective of how the service or the functionality is provided, and will be held accountable, Boulter said.
However, Boulter hopes Capgemini will be able to help bridge that gap once and for all.