Cloud Computing - Benefits and Barriers for Retail Adoption

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1 Original Published Research from Cobweb Solutions - Europe s Leading Cloud Services Provider Cloud Computing - Benefits and Barriers for Retail Adoption v1.5 written by Ed Dixon Director of Enterprise Services CLOUD SERVICES

2 CONTENTS Cloud computing for retailers What to look for in a Cloud Services provider Key benefits of cloud computing in retail PCI and cloud computing Services retailers are adopting Contemplating a cloud solution? Cloud adoption assessment process Making adoption easy the roadmap Conclusion About Ed Dixon - author About Cobweb and The Cobweb Cloud

3 Cloud Computing for Retailers Cloud computing gives businesses the ability to centrally manage data, rapidly create and deploy new capabilities, whilst only ever paying for the services used. This makes adoption of Cloud Services a very compelling proposition for fast paced markets such as retail. Messaging, collaboration and hosting are common entry points for retailers looking to transition to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. Yet initial requirements range from the need to reduce and maintain hardware at predictable costs, to wanting to improve service performance and communication platforms across the business. One ROI can be proved with these mature hosted services, the use of cloud computing for Infrastructure-as-a- Service (IaaS) for both customer facing services and internal systems simply becomes the logical next phase. The very seasonal nature of retail makes the spreading of IT costs, based on the volumes of sales, an attractive one Every retailer we spoke to wants to keep IT spending down to a minimum and in proportion to their current trading environment Many retailers have downsized IT departments over the last couple of years in order to cut costs whilst the economy remained unpredictable. In addition, a lack of IT investment has resulted in companies persevering with old, unsupported software, and missing opportunities to take advantages of new technology which could support their business. In a recent survey of retail decision makers, 57% of respondents said they were thinking of moving to software services via the cloud in the next two to three years, making it possible to deploy the latest technology, whilst only ever paying for what is needed. Cloud computing can offer real benefits for retailers including: Lower costs Higher support levels & guaranteed SLAs Enhanced business continuity Tighter security & compliance Greater flexibility. IT Director, High Street Fashion Retailer. 3

4 What to look for in a Cloud Services provider The adoption of cloud computing continues to gain mainstream acceptance, largely because behind the cloud hype there are mature service providers, with proven track records, who have been providing what we now know as The Cloud for many years. Selecting a Cloud Services provider is often just seen as another form of outsourcing, however the key difference here, especially when considering Software-as-a-Service, is the granular level of day-to-day control that is retained by the organisation. In particular, services that are deployed and managed through portal based provisioning and billing systems provide unrivalled levels of transparency between the cloud provider s public cloud and the organisation s own private cloud. To meet the security and quality requirements that are compatible with both internal audits and industry regulations, a cloud provider should at a minimum be able to offer an ISO27001 and ISO9001 accredited service. These industry recognised accreditations demonstrate a serious, on-going commitment to data security, and will often exceed those of an internal deployment. Moving to a SaaS offering can be a daunting task, especially where a big bang approach to migration (where everything is bought into the cloud at once) is being considered. Transitioning data from on-premise to the cloud does indeed represent one of the main risks of transitioning from on-premise solutions to the cloud. In these situations a phased approach is recommended giving time to put a requisite programme of governance and compliance in place, and ensure a smooth and successful transition to the cloud over a predetermined period of time. For this transition period a level of coexistence will exist between provider and organisation for example a phased transition of your messaging solution to the cloud would mean at any point, some users would reside on the old service and the rest on the new; yet functionality such as address list and calendar synchronisation would continue to function, ensuring no noticeable drop in the quality of the service. Finally, it is recognised that business requirements can change so it is always important to ensure that once your data & services have been moved to a provider s cloud, if in the future your requirements dictate you can move away effectively and at an acceptable cost. Reputable providers will understand this, and will even promote this as a key benefit of their service. 4

5 Key benefits of Cloud Computing in Retail Eliminate high capital expenditure and move to a fixed per-user-per-month cost model Explore considerations and benefits for PCI DSS when adopting messaging and collaboration Cloud Services Considerably reduce the risks associated with upgrading existing legacy software Enhance the user experience, mobility and move towards unified communications Information is centrally accessible and relevant to the intended recipients. So internal collaboration and innovation are not inhibited. Cobweb has helped us with an exceptional messaging, collaboration and archiving solution that helps our company meet its objectives Christopher Fullalove, Caffyns Director of IT. 5

6 PCI and Cloud Computing The PCI DSS is a set of comprehensive requirements for enhancing payment account data security. It was developed by the five founding payment brands and the PCI Security Standards Council, to help facilitate the broad adoption of consistent data security measures on a global basis. The PCI DSS is a multifaceted security standard that includes requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design and other critical protective measures. This comprehensive standard is intended to help organizations proactively protect customer account data. provide PCI compliant solutions to avoid the threat of incurring heavy fines. To address the PCI DSS requirements, retailers must ensure that their messaging and collaboration software is set-up and configured securely, and because messaging and collaboration applications have become essential tools in the payment card industry; it is vital that any documents or messages that might contain cardholder data are secure. For example a Cloud Services provider must demonstrate that they have the ability to find patterns of text in an message to prevent against data in messages that have payment details. The standard sets out to: Build and maintain a secure network Protect cardholder data Maintain a vulnerability management programme Implement strong access control measures Regularly monitor and test networks Maintain a policy that addresses information security PCI DSS requires organisations to protect cardholder account information throughout the transaction lifecycle, from the point of sale, data transfer and storage of account information. Cloud Computing providers must Retailers that are eager to protect records are advised to also utilise archiving technology to ensure forensic compliance. Archiving technology instantly encrypts and archives a copy of every internal and external sent or received across your organisation. A cloud based archiving and compliance service solution should guarantee that your archive is secure and tamperproof, and that nothing can be deleted or altered. By ensuring this you can be sure that everything in your archive is authentic and most importantly, legally compliant. 6

7 Cloud Services that Retailers are Adopting Microsoft SharePoint Server - SharePoint Server is a collaboration and content management solution that allows retailers to use one integrated platform to support portal, information distribution and document management needs. The collaboration capabilities can be deployed across entire organisation regardless of geographical locations and can even be used by suppliers and partners. Messaging Archiving & Compliance - Messaging archiving technology seamlessly integrates with and instant messaging systems to deliver the fastest online search, retrieval and monitoring capabilities on the market today. These services provide businesses with a professionally-managed yet easy-to-use, archiving, continuity and security solution. SharePoint provides a cost-effective foundation for creating web based business applications (these could be intranet, extranet, and even internet applications) which are fully customisable and scalable to your business needs and compliant with your internal information governance requirements. Microsoft Dynamics CRM - Dynamics CRM can help retailers stand out from the competition. With the ability to build and maintain rich customer profiles, you can provide personalised service that builds customer loyalty and ultimately increases your revenue. Microsoft Exchange Server - For most organisations today, is the mission-critical communications tool that employees must use to produce their best results. This greater reliance on has increased the number of messages sent and received, the amount and variety of work performed by , and even the speed of business itself. Exchange Server provides a rich messaging platform to manage information exchange in your organisation whilst helping meet PCI DSS compliance objectives. Users will also find that the familiar Microsoft functionality and interface empowers them to work in an efficient and natural way. Cloud Hosting Cloud hosting is the provision of highly secure, scalable, pay-as-you-go infrastructure to support retailers online and e-commerce platforms. This flexibility protects online revenues and meets the cyclical resource requirements of seasonal highs or lows. 7

8 Contemplating a Cloud Solution? The growing trend of opting for cloud computing as a solution has seen IT decision maker s attention shift to service management, costs and fee structures and spending less time on lengthy implementations and upgrades. The questions you need to consider when contemplating a cloud solution are as follows: 1. Is cloud computing suited to your organisation? 2. What is the impact of moving to the cloud? 3. Can you achieve PCI compliance within the cloud? 4. Does the service offer selfprovisioning and billing models to suit? 5. What measures should you take to ensure highest levels of security? 6. Will it lower your operational costs? 7. Where is the best place to start? We considered a number of global leading hosted brands, including Cobweb s Hosted Exchange. Ultimately it was our feeling that Cobweb was the preferred provider who could deliver against our technical requirements Martyn Eddins, IT Services Manager at Mitchells & Butlers. 8

9 Cloud Adoption Assessment Process Determine how to get started with cloud adoption and cloud offerings Assess retail use cases for messaging, collaboration, unified communications, CRM and cloud hosting objectives Identify which areas of your business are suitable and how compliance and standards are to be met Prioritise cloud opportunities to develop an overarching cloud adoption roadmap Considerations for public, private, community and hybrid models Establish a high level benefits case for adoption. Making Adoption Easy the Roadmap The numerous cloud options, benefits and barriers to adoption drive the need for a cloud roadmap that balances thoughtful business insight, solution expertise and rapid time to benefit. Retailers must decide which of the new cloud-based delivery solutions and models should be considered. In developing a plan with a cloud provider such as Cobweb Cloud Services, retailers can gain a head start in understanding the opportunity for their organisation and accelerate the time to benefit whilst making adoption easy. Application Review Maturity Map Establish Business & IT Strategic Objective Cloud Opportunity Review Assessment & Analysis Benefits Statement Cloud Adoption Roadmap Define Scope Infrastructure Review Cloud Adoption Reference Model 9

10 Conclusion Whilst cloud computing, Software-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service provide a compelling option for retailers, the benefits and the risks need to be addressed. A Cloud Services provider differs from traditional outsourcers and hosting providers through the transparency and flexibility they bring in per unit billing, self-provisioning and service reporting. The process of moving to a cloud provider must offer co-existence and roll back to enable a seamless migration; the provider must have maturity of service with an established customer base and service portfolio. The opportunity for retailers is significant and any project being undertaken should consider, even as an alternative, cloud computing. Finally, as retailers look to IT to drive their businesses forward, the adoption of cloud computing represents one of the few strategic initiatives that is able to demonstrate; lower predictable costs, alignment to business and seasonal cycles, and a foundation for business growth. About the Author - Ed Dixon Ed Dixon is the Head of Enterprise Services at Cobweb and is responsible for the growth of Cobweb s mid-enterprise business. He plays a pivotal role in working with clients to develop their strategic plans and building the financial case for cloud adoption. Legal Notice This document is the Copyright 2011 of Cobweb Solutions Limited and is correct at the time of publication. All content is provided for informational purposes only. Cobweb is not liable for any errors or omissions in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. All Trademarks are hereby acknowledged. 10

11 About Cobweb and the Cobweb Cloud Cobweb has been delivering software from the Cloud since the late nineties and remains the largest Cloud provider in Europe of Microsoft collaboration software in Exchange 2010, SharePoint, OCS, Archival and Dynamics CRM. This is combined with the provision of scalable and secure infrastructure and data management services from the Cobweb Cloud, which support business critical applications in a pay-as-you-go utility model. All underpinned with our unique hybrid Cloud layer for management, provisioning and transparent billing and our comprehensive professional services capability. Cobweb s Cloud Services have proven to help customers reduce the cost and complexity of delivering software and infrastructure and is accelerating the adoption of a service based IT model. Cobweb has embarked on a series of industry best practice certification programmes to provide our customers with further reassurance of our capabilities: ISO9001 Quality Management (Assessment passed 1st time Sept 04 and annually since) ISO27001 Information Security Management (Assessment passed 1st time Mar 06 and annually since) ISO14001 Environmental Management (Assessment passed 1st time May 08 and annually since) Cobweb is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with 5 competencies demonstrating the breadth and depth of our Microsoft expertise and skills: Networking Infrastructure Solutions Information Worker Solutions Mobility Solutions Hosting Solutions Unified Communications Solutions In addition, Cobweb has selected the best of breed partners to support our services delivery, HP, Cisco, EMC, VmWare, Parallels, MessageLabs, BlackBerry and Global Relay to name a few. 11

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