How the Cloud Computing Can Transform Your Business

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1 How the Cloud Computing Can Transform Your Business

2 With the cloud, individuals and small businesses can snap their fingers and instantly set up enterprise-class services. Paul Maritz, CEO of VMware

3 Contents 1. What Is Cloud Computing? 2. What Are The Benefits Of Cloud Based Applications For Your Business? Cloud based systems are much faster to set up and are easier to manage too Cloud Computing is more flexible & also more scalable Cloud computing enables you to use the same software as the biggest companies You get enhanced security & document control It boosts productivity, quality and competitiveness Using the Cloud significantly reduces your IT costs Cloud Computing reduces other business costs too Your business can be more mobile with Cloud Computing Your profitability improves 3. How To Move To The Cloud. Do your research to evaluate how the Cloud fits your business Define your requirements Create your implementation plan Training is essential to a smooth implementation Implementing Your Cloud Establish on-going review processes and use those analytics Phoning A Friend 5

4 1. What Is Cloud Computing? Cloud Computing promises to tackle two hitherto irreconcilable IT challenges - the need to reduce costs and the need to boost innovation. Ovum Cloud Computing is a technology that delivers on-demand services over a network such as the Internet. It allows users to utilize and manage their data on remote servers accessed with speed and convenience, typically on a pay-as-you-go basis, through their browser or via a mobile app. Users can have Cloud Computing services up and running within hours. Previously, with traditional licensed software alternatives, this would have taken weeks or months to achieve the same result. The use and scope of these Cloud services is governed by online contracts that define the Service Level Agreements (SLA s). These are laid down by a Cloud service provider. The most common uses of Cloud Computing include desktop applications, data storage and services. The Cloud also includes a number of phone service technology options such as Voice over IP (VOIP). In addition, social media sites too are now encouraging Cloud use by providing facilities for sharing photos and videos etc. Combined, all these factors are driving Cloud usage and as a result, Cloud Computing is spreading rapidly, especially amongst those SMEs and SMBs that have grasped the benefits available. There are a number of different forms of Cloud Computing: Public/Private/Hybrid or Community: Public Cloud In general terms, Public Clouds exist where Cloud technology service providers enable public access to applications, or storage facilities via the Internet. Typically, these services are offered through a pay-as-you-go pricing model. Private Cloud In general terms, a Private Cloud describes a proprietary computing platform that delivers hosted services to a limited number of users located behind a firewall. Hybrid Cloud The term Hybrid Cloud describes where organizations choose to combine a mixture of Public and Private Clouds to meet their specific and on-going IT needs. Community Cloud A Community Cloud solution is where the infrastructure model is openly shared by a number of separate companies or bodies within a specific group representing mutual or shared IT interests and requirements. 6 7

5 2. Why Move To the Cloud? In fact Adobe too has recently announced that they are moving to supplying their software through the Cloud. Other key software solutions available include: Salesforce.com and QuickBooks. Cloud computing promises economic advantages, speed, agility, flexibility, infinite elasticity and innovation. Gartner Thus, the Cloud eliminates any risk of your business lagging behind larger competitors using the latest version of the best software. In short, Cloud Computing just levelled the playing field. You get enhanced security & document control Cloud based systems are much faster to set up and are easier to manage too Proponents of Cloud technology will tell you that it allows organisations to get the applications they use up to speed much faster. Typically, Cloud services can often be fully usable within a matter of hours as opposed to the weeks or months previously required to deploy traditional licensed software models. Advocates of the technology also claim that Cloud systems are far easier to manage and that it is much simpler to evaluate their real effectiveness and business impact. Cloud Computing Is more flexible & also more scalable You ll find that Cloud technology is more flexible and also far more scalable. From an IT perspective, it delivers greater business agility for your business. Thus, for example, if your company expands rapidly or if you need to react quickly to sudden market changes, then using Cloud Computing can be extremely advantageous. The ability is there to change scale, both horizontally in the number and type of applications you wish to use as well as vertically, the amount of use you decide make of make of them. As such, it removes the pressure of estimating the ability of your systems to cope with the highs and lows of seasonal trade cycles or sales upturns for example. Cloud Computing enables you to use the same software as the biggest companies You will find that most of the leading applications are now available in the Cloud. Typically, this is the same technology used by even the biggest firms. For example, a full range of Microsoft systems is now available. This includes Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher and much more. Where Microsoft goes, so do most of the other apps and the systems you will need. Generally, you can rely on the fact that Cloud service providers ensure the highest levels security for their sites. If one adds to this the enormous risk of lost or stolen laptops, one can quickly appreciate the significant dividend of using the Cloud. As your data never leaves the Cloud it s irrelevant what happened to an employee s laptop. Your data is still safe and sound in the Cloud. Also, if you have multiple locations you do not need to keep refreshing the data at each, as it is held centrally in just one location, ready for access from wherever. This ensures that you have far more efficient document management and control. It boosts productivity, quality and competitiveness As all your business systems and processes are closely linked, the technology that you choose to manage them can have a huge impact on all aspects of productivity. By continually breathing life into aging or out-dated traditional software, it can adversely affect the quality of the service you provide. However, by using the latest software through the Cloud this risk is eliminated. Indeed, those who use the Cloud generally experience significant improvements in productivity along with increased levels of efficiency. This ensures that you remain competitive with the very best. Using the Cloud significantly reduces your IT costs By far the biggest attraction of using the Cloud is the impressive economic business case for its use. For one thing, it s entirely Cap-ex free. Traditionally, the capital expenditure impact of IT systems spending et al could badly hit the working capital available for investment in other key business activities. Cloud Computing 8 9

6 transforms the IT cost regime by converting it into a straightforward operational expense. As such this ensures that budgeting for IT becomes appreciably easier. In short, using the Cloud allows you to avoid heavy up-front infrastructure costs. Thus, by using the cash-flow friendly pay as you go model, that the Cloud truly delivers, you can access all the best software without having that initial infrastructure outlay. So for those on a tight budget, start-ups or for entrepreneurs who don t want to spend all their free capital on a technology refresh, Cloud Computing is ideal. Cloud Computing also ensures that the traditional risks of building unnecessary and therefore extremely expensive extra license capacity into traditional software purchase models is also a thing of the past. You only pay for what you use. This also removes the traditional model s risk of software license infringement where vendors invoice you for having more users that you originally specified. Cloud Computing reduces other business costs too Beyond pure software and IT costs, using Cloud technology eliminates the need to recruit, train and manage a myriad of IT staff. The Cloud service provider is ultimately responsible for system updates, maintenance and security all of which saves you both time and money. There may also be other related cost savings such as considerably lower energy usage / costs and reductions in disaster recovery programmes (as this is also now mainly in the realm of the Cloud technology provider to ensure). Your business can be more mobile with Cloud Computing As Cloud data can be accessed easily via the web, the employees you do have can work from any location and as a result are far more mobile if not fully virtual. This, of course, potentially reduces the amount of costly office space you need for your business. The Cloud alternative is also likely to be extremely popular with your management and employees too as potentially it allows them a much improved work-life balance. Your Profitability improves If your software expenditure, headcount and office costs are all reduced significantly then the chances are that these savings (coupled with the related productivity and efficiency and competitiveness improvements) will have a very positive effect on your profitability. In short, Cloud Computing can transform your bottom-line and therein your business prospects. 3. How To Move To The Cloud? You need a clear vision and effective processes, skills and organizational structure to drive cloud innovation in your enterprise. Gartner The advantages may be very clear, but deciding how or when to implement a Cloud strategy is still going to a major challenge for any small business. Moving to cloud is primarily a business decision, not just a technology decision. There are then a number of key steps for you to ensure a successful Cloud transition for your business. Here are some of the main ones. Do your research to evaluate how the Cloud fits your business Unsurprisingly, thorough research has to be the first step. However, it s not necessarily that straightforward as there are so very many options by which you can move your business over to the Cloud. Therefore, you need to research what is available on the market and conduct an-in-depth cost / benefit analysis to ensure that you are contemplating the right solution for your particular business. This includes conducting an in-depth and honest assessment of your business needs and of the existing IT systems you have in place. You might also assess whether your competition are deriving significant benefits from the Cloud or whether by moving to the Cloud you might steal a march on them. This process will dictate the very best foundation upon which to lay the building blocks of any strategic Cloud plans that you subsequently choose to follow. Having researched the Cloud extensively, you will probably have a pretty good, if somewhat general idea, of which services you could use. There are a number of different types of Cloud (public /private/hybrid or community) to consider though, so it is worth taking a view on which might be best for you

7 With all this in mind, you then need to prepare a detailed analysis of how the theory is best applied to the working realities of your unique business needs. Therefore, it s essential that, as you do your research, you identify which specific Cloud applications might be best for what you do that you ask yourself the following questions: How much will moving to the Cloud save my business over time? What will a Cloud Computing alternative deliver for my business in terms of productivity, efficiency and competitiveness? Have I found the best Cloud Applications available - Can I do better? Which business areas is the greatest priority to change through the Cloud? Define your requirements No one path for moving to the Cloud is going to work for every business and the chances are that a rapidly expanding range of different services could suit each individual user. With this in mind, you then need to draft a detailed Requirements Analysis that is specific to your precise business requirements. This will help you specify the in-depth business needs you have and how each Cloud application can be utilised to deliver them. This more detailed stage will include analysing the particular Cloud service options that will fulfil specific deliverables for your business and the budgeted costs / expenses over time. One can also then doublecheck that none of the terms and conditions imposed in the on-line contracts (of the sites that you have chosen) inhibit any of your business requirements. You will also need to decide which aspects of your business estate should move to the Cloud first. It is also at this stage of the exercise that you can assess other opportunities that you might be able to capitalise upon whilst you are making the change. For example, with the web based nature of the Cloud, you might want to take the opportunity to invest in the latest smart-mobile and tablet technology. In a similar vein, this might be just the opportunity you need to consider other new trends such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) where you staff use their own computing resources to perform their roles. In contrast though, there may also be some software systems that you are reluctant to use Cloud applications for. These might be applications where you want to keep some data solely on your premises. This might include such as information as accounts data and HR records. So it may well be a good time to look at your server requirements too. If this is the case, then you might well need to consider moving to a solution that combines Cloud software, on-premise systems, hardware and support plans. Such packages are now becoming available. Create your implementation plan Once you have identified which services are good for you, evolving to a Cloud strategy and away from using traditional licensed software and technology systems can still be a complex and highly involved process. There will no doubt be a significant number of technology and business decisions to make. In general, the best approach is always going to be evolution as opposed to wholesale revolution. The order by which you move to the Cloud should therefore form part of a staged implementation plan This will define the individual elements of each Cloud project- with the need to ensure that each element and component works as you would wish it to first, before moving on to the next. Make sure that you continue to review your related internal processes as you move forward. This will of course ensure that they are all fully aligned to the new technology once it has gone-live. Training is essential to a smooth implementation Once you have drafted an implementation plan to introduce the Cloud software you have chosen, it s time to train all those responsible for implementing your new Cloud systems. This process should not just involve their learning how to administer and manage the system but also it should train them how to identify and therein how to report potential problems. Once and only once the training for implementation staff has been completed to you entire satisfaction can you then start training the users of the Cloud applications that you have chosen. Implementing Your Cloud Firstly, you will need to establish a realistic implementation timetable - with flexibility built in prior to any Go-Live date. You will need to ensure that those involved are aware of this timetable and allow them to schedule ample time within their everyday roles to participate fully in any on-going test procedures

8 For each stage, create a parallel test environment for your chosen Cloud components. This can run alongside your existing systems. It permits you to create a working proof-of-concept model. As Cloud Computing is such a very scalable technology you have the ability to keep your parallel environment at a very manageable size and then grow it to a more realistic scale when you are ready to move forward. You should then run this test-bed system in the parallel environment so that the QA snags will start to appear. These can then be reported and quickly resolved. Phoning A friend As there so many permutations with Cloud Computing, it might be an idea to enlist the support of an experienced consultant who can explain in detail how to optimise the benefit of the Cloud for your specific business needs. They can assess your business expectations and compare your requirements for businesses information and data access with the available tools on the market. They can also advise on issues such as security, on-going support requirements and help you through the implementation period and beyond. Then as you run your parallel system, you should conduct further extensive QA tests to ensure that those who will either administer or use the system are given every chance to find business process snags or hitches which can also be resolved. Once the system looks ready, it will need testing and then fully testing yet again. One cannot underestimate the importance of testing. Many of the glitches found once a system goes live could or even should have been spotted during testing. Whilst Cloud applications are easier to set up, it is still critically important that sufficient time is allocated to the test process. Once you are finally sure that your new Cloud strategy is ready, then you can go-live with its implementation. Be sure though to actively monitor the immediate post implementation stage very closely to check that everything is running and that are no unforeseen glitches. Establish on-going review processes and use those analytics With all technology changes, it is important to periodically review the benefits and advantages of new systems for your business over time. In this important respect Cloud technology is just the same. Indeed the nature of the Cloud helps here as many applications provide you with excellent usage data and analytics. It is important to use such available data thoroughly to assess how well each Cloud application is working for you. It s also important to realise that as so many new applications are appearing in the Cloud, all the time, that the latest challengers to appear might offer even more. The Cloud puts an end to the days of being locked into a single software licence, for long periods, where it was almost impossible to change quickly. The Cloud gives you a hitherto greater degree of freedom over time. You should plan to review and to use this freedom where it benefits your business. CloudToo hopes that you enjoyed reading this White Paper and found its content to be useful. If you would like to know more about the Cloud or feel that you might like some advice on taking the next step, then feel free to call our CloudToo advice line on

9 Roughly a third of the world s digital content will be kept on the cloud by Gartner

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