You can invariably rely on the customer to cut through the hyperbole that surrounds new technology paradigms to work out what is the right solution to their business needs.  Cloud computing is the latest example where customers are increasingly realising that a hybrid approach combining on-premise software with hosted services is the most effective way to dip their toe in the relatively uncharted waters of business-critical cloud computing.

MITIE, the strategic outsourcing and facilities management provider to many commercial and public sector organisations, is a case in hand.  MITIE performs many different services at many different locations, from relatively small retail spaces to large office environments.  It needs an IT infrastructure that provides the flexibility to scale systems up and down, and the business agility to bring new services to market quickly.

To get the scalability and agility it wants, MITIE became very interested in cloud computing—the use of computing resources acquired through the Internet as services. But while cloud computing offers flexibility without a high infrastructure investment, MITIE did not want to give up the control, familiarity, and proven performance of its on-premises IT environment for its 6000 PC users.

Therefore, MITIE elected to pursue a more evolutionary approach, combining on-premises software with hosted services from Microsoft.  The company is in the process of rolling-out an updated IT and messaging environment that will incorporate the Windows Server 2008 operating system, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software, Microsoft Exchange Server, the Microsoft Office 2010 suite of productivity programs, and a companywide intranet portal developed with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. The company will then augment its productivity and collaboration systems with components of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, a collection of messaging and collaboration services hosted in Microsoft data centres.

David Aird, Head of Group IT at MITIE sums up the advantages of this evolutionary approach to cloud computing as follows, “With Microsoft, we are able to move to the cloud at our own pace, when the time is right for us.”

You can read more about MITIE’s approach to cloud computing with Microsoft here

MITIE’s approach to on-premise software combined with hosted services for a workforce that is geographically dispersed and largely hosted at customer facilities may well be a model that is embraced by many public sector organisations as they evaluate their move to cloud computing.

Posted by Ian