Keep IT involved in cloud purchasing decisions

Keep IT involved in cloud purchasing decisions

The cloud’s accessibility makes it irresistible to end users working under tight deadlines (which, let’s face it, is virtually everyone). Order a virtual machine (VM) this morning and you can deploy that VM, well, this morning. But who ensures that this new infrastructure purchase is secure, meets an organization’s established technical standards, and is compliant from a volume licensing perspective?

Even well-intentioned employees will bypass IT when pursuing a cloud initiative, often telling their IT guys, “We didn’t want to bother you.” Until there’s a problem, of course.

Last week I introduced ZDNet reporter Heather Clancy to SHI and talked to her about SHI’s participation in the channel and our work in the cloud. One of the main points I tried to convey was the importance of keeping IT involved in all of an organization’s technology purchasing and procurement decisions, cloud included. It was a theme that Heather picked up on and featured in her article, “SHI’s cloud mantra: Keep IT involved.”

Since Heather’s article went live, our sales teams have heard from numerous CIOs who were interested in learning more how SHI can keep IT more involved in what technologies their end users are bringing into their environment. Specifically, they asked how we can help them identify which consumer-based products are lurking in their environments so they can stop and replace them with a secure, enterprise-class solution.

Full disclosure: SHI only has visibility into the product lines our customers authorize us to manage. Most of our largest, longtime customers have found that the easiest way to manage a product line is to have as many IT purchases go through SHI as possible. It’s far easier for an IT manager to tell end users to “Call SHI” than to evaluate, source, procure, and deploy every new request they get.

So how do we do it? SHI helps organizations manage their IT environments in several ways:

E-commerce. SHI can tailor our online catalogs to include only the technologies and solutions that adhere to the agreed-upon company standards. In this way, IT managers can be certain that the procured technology is obtained at that customer’s correct price based on already-established volume-purchase programs. We can also install approval routing so that requests made through an account are forwarded to and approved by a predetermined customer contact prior to being fulfilled (if that’s what they want). SHI also provides scheduled or ad-hoc reports that track what solutions were purchased and by whom. Buying VMs through SHI enables cloud purchases to be included in these reports as well.

IT asset management (ITAM). SHI can inventory what technologies currently exist in a client’s environment or leverage a discovery the client has already completed to help form a baseline assessment of IT assets. We then compare this information against the customer’s license position to form a gap analysis. In a cloud environment, SHI’s volume license experts can identify which volume licenses are available for use internally and which can be accessed through a public cloud. Buying VMs and accessing information from an application without understanding whether that license is internal-only opens the organization to compliance risks.

Even if the initial purchase did not go through SHI, our sales teams will work with each manufacturer to compile a renewal calendar of our customers’ existing volume licenses and hardware maintenance renewals to ensure each is on schedule and on budget.

Dedicated sales team. SHI’s stability in both inside and outside sales teams and the fact that we do not use “pools” to field incoming requests mean that our salespeople can assist in monitoring pre-sales requests and refer end users to the standards set by IT managers.

Integration. SHI’s Configuration Center can be utilized to receive, configure, image, and ship devices as per the approved instructions of IT managers.

Quarterly business reviews. SHI conducts regular quarterly business reviews to ensure the process is compliant and working as it should and to review past deployments and future purchases.

Thanks to cloud computing and BYOD, end users are more empowered than ever when it comes to their technology decisions. As a B2B company, our goal is to help our customers support their end users and the technologies they deploy in a way that ensures compliance to both licensing rules and company standards. In our experience, the best way to do this is to keep a company’s IT department involved at each step of the equation.