Cloud saved Carbon Trust when IT service providers couldn't

When the Carbon Trust was faced with a huge IT budget cut it went to its IT outsourcing partners for help. But they couldn’t help so it moved just about everything to the cloud.

Mike Proudlock, IS programme manager at Tate Britain, was presenting at the latest CW500 club. In the meeting of senior IT executives he spoke of his previous role at the Carbon Trust and how he was basically given no choice but to move as much as possible into the cloud or cloud-like services anyway.

His IT budget was slashed from £5.5m to £1m basically overnight.

He said his first port of call was to contact all his suppliers and tell them how much he could now spend on IT. All the suppliers came back and said they could not do the work at the price being asked for.

It was at this point he went to the board and told them they would have to move to the cloud. The IT department then went through application by application to ascertain what could be done cheaper in the cloud. He had a string business case – “If we don’t cut costs we will no longer exist.”

After that the first port of call for Proudlock was the suppliers. The Carbon Trust told its main suppliers about the situation and they came back by saying they could not provide the services it needed at that cost. “So we agreed we would split and terminate the contracts,” said Proudlock.

Blown out by the suppliers Proudlock said the organisation began the task by looking at the total cost of ownership of systems. He said when factoring in staffing, patching, maintenance and upgrades the costs are a lot higher than expected.

He said the organisation looked into doing things in-house. But this has a lot of hidden costs. For example when you get a new email system and installation support, engineers, and training is required, he described.

In the end it recognized the only way it could do it was by moving systems to the cloud, said Proudlock. He said only two applications remained on premise including the HR system which only cost £1000 a year. “Both were small and so cheap there was no point getting someone else to run them.”

Proudlock talked about how the Carbon Trust, which is a small organisation, had more clout when it came to negotiating with cloud suppliers. He described how if you have a problem with a service, which is multi-tenanted, and its other users, find out the supplier will soon have no business. “Microsoft was hardly going to jump if we barked at it. But if you are a cloud supplier and have a business model that depends on all your customers being happy to buy your products [a problem for one is serious.]”

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