Telegraph reaches the cloud: CIO details the three-year journey

The newspaper group's IT chief on Google Apps, Salesforce.com and datacentre footprints

...carry our regular batch run processes in which data is taken from Salesforce and fed into the Agresso system, with FinancialForce transferring this data automatically when it goes live.

FinancialForce will also provide a web front end to give clients information such as outstanding orders, money owed and a payment record, something that can't currently be done with the in-house system due to the security implications of allowing customers access.

"FinancialForce gives us some financial functionality but also a safe and secure route into the data for the customers that we've got. And also, once it's done all of that for you, it makes sure that our onsite finance system is all up to date with what we've billed and what we've sold," Cheesbrough said.

He added that financial operations is one of the most complex areas to tackle with cloud computing due to rules about where data is stored, security concerns and the amount of related legacy technology.

"This is a step change for us but it's certainly not going to displace the existing system. Over time we might put more and more into the cloud - it was a good middle ground to make sure that we had the safety of keeping the existing financial system going on site," he said.

With much of TMG's back office tech now in the cloud, TMG's tech team is now able to work on developing technology as well as supporting it.

"We've shifted the resource balance of the technology department away from being 95 per cent operational - which is where we were two and a half years ago when we started the journey - towards, in six months time, we'll be 30 per cent operational. So we will have released about 65 per cent of our resource to focus on more value-creating activities like our digital business and things like change management and new ways of working."

Screengrab of Telegraph.co.uk

The TMG tech team now has more time to develop applications for internal and external use such as the Telegraph website
Screenshot: Telegraph.co.uk

The team still looks after things like network management, desk side support, software maintenance and running the datacentre but the team now has time to work on web operations and development for the telegraph.co.uk website.

"Software developments are a more important part of our business today than they were two years ago but we don't have to manage the tin and the operating systems and all the databases and the platforms behind that anymore," Cheesbrough noted.

Several members of the tech team specialise in developing internal technology using Salesforce.com's Force.com on-demand CRM platform - for example, a cloud-based dashboard which draws together data on web traffic, inventory, rates at which it's being sold and webpage load time - which means developers no longer have to build applications from the bottom up and internal applications can be built more quickly.

"It brings all that together on a web dashboard, that we've been able to create because our systems are in the cloud and they're based on web technologies, where you can get the data in and out of them quite easily, so we're able to do that pretty quickly," Cheesbrough said.

"When you create these web apps they're just a lot easier and less cumbersome to get going, and we use a common set of skills to do that as we do for our externally facing web development because the technical skills you need are pretty similar," he added.

The company also uses...