DCN October 2016 - Page 28

advertisement ‘Alive with technology – creating cloud culture the Six Degrees way’ From a MSP startup in 2011 to a £100m converged technology infrastructure provider in just five years, Six Degrees Group (6DG) has seen the cloud and managed services markets leap to prominence. Led by founder and CEO Alastair Mills, the company’s vision was to provide the capabilities offered by a true data centre and converged network operator but with the flexibility and service-creation skills of an agile startup. Now, celebrating its fifth birthday, 6DG has passed the £100m revenue milestone, established a 2000 strong mid-market customer base and welcomed employee number 500. The pace of change and innovation has been rapid throughout those five years and continues to challenge the traditional role of IT. For Mills and his team, the message has moved way beyond ‘why cloud?’ to helping customers embrace it as a fundamental part of their culture. ‘A year ago, we were talking about the development of “cloud people”, where we were seeing clients increasingly shape their IT teams with cloud front of mind,’ explains Mills. ‘At the time, that was an emerging concept, yet just a year later we are seeing the growth of a broader “cloud culture”, whose influence is going far beyond tech teams and right into the boardroom.’ Cloud focus is on business value Cloud is driving a change in how organisations want their IT to work with the rest of the business. The idea that IT has a genuine understanding of issues outside of its direct remit has been on the agenda of many businesses for years. The problem has been that traditional IT meant technical staff needed to spend their time ‘keeping the lights on’, and the scope to achieve greater levels of integration has been limited. But now, many business leaders are asking their IT teams to take on a broader role helping the business to grow. This fundamental shift in the role of IT has been enabled and driven by the arrival of cloud technology and the growing experience of providers, such as 6DG. It also presents a continuing challenge - many people working in and around the cloud industry do so with the ‘preconception’, 6DG argues, that cloud adoption is being driven by the desire to save costs, and that the arrival of cloud is driving a reduction in internal IT staff. ‘Both our experience and ongoing research show that neither of these ideas are true,’ says Mills. ‘Cloud adoption is focused on delivering business value, not cutting costs and staff. What is correct, however, is that the momentum behind cloud computing is growing and it is becoming an integral part of IT delivery for many businesses.’ 6DG’s own recent research, conducted by Freeform Dynamics, revealed that the underlying momentum behind cloud is extremely strong. Ninety-six per cent of IT professionals with 50 to 2,500 employees have some involvement with the cloud. One fifth reported ‘extensive’ use of cloud and 52 per cent described it as ‘significant’. Just under a quarter (24 per cent) said their involvement with cloud was ‘modest’. Yet, only 15 per cent of respondents cited cost saving as their primary factor for implementing cloud solutions. Almost a third (31 per cent) said cost management was important but only when combined with delivering more value to the business, while almost a quarter were concerned mainly with value. Cloud has helped businesses address a general shift in emphasis in traditional IT teams who, as one customer put it, ‘don’t have the manpower to babysit hardware anymore’. These organisations