Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered!

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1 Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered! Regardless of your vertical sector or business size, cloud computing is big news for you and your company. However, it s easy to be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information available on the cloud, making a reliable evaluation time consuming and complicated. To help, this ebook aims to answer the top 5 questions businesses considering cloud software have, providing a consolidated guide to what you need to know and helping you start your journey to better profits with the aid of cloud software. What s in this ebook What is cloud computing What are the potential pitfalls of cloud computing Who is using cloud computing How can I migrate to a cloud solution What are the benefits of cloud computing Next steps

2 1. What is cloud computing Cloud simply refers to the method you access your business software and data. For example, consider how we used to consume music: we purchased CD s from a shop and stored them in a CD case. But now, we purchase music from a virtual online shop and store tracks in an online library this practice would be categorised as a cloud-computing. So, in the simplest terms, cloud is a metaphor for the internet and therefore cloud computing refers to using the internet to access software applications and data hosted on remote servers, rather than on local servers housed within your office or installed on a personal computer. Terminology Cloud client refers to the device you are using to access the cloud, so this is any web enabled device: PC, laptop, tablet, mobile phone etc. This allows businesses to access the software their company relies on via the internet instead of purchasing business software and installing the it onto their laptop or office server (physically storing the software and data on-premise). Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) - is the most basic cloud service and refers to a company using the servers and hardware provided by a third party Public Cloud The public cloud is the most commonly used cloud computing model, whereby a provider makes a resource like software available via the internet. Private Cloud A private cloud operates on the same model as the public cloud, but access to the resources is restricted Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) requires an IaaS relationship, but in addition to the physical infrastructure, a pre-defined operating system, data storage and often development tools are available Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) this refers to a business accessing both infrastructure and software via the cloud to one organisation Maximizer Software Inc. Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered 2

3 2. Who is using cloud computing IBM released their latest survey results in Oct 2013, announcing one in five companies already have or are looking to adopt cloud services. So in answer to the question, Who is using cloud computing, the answer is everyone! It is predicted that by 2015, $244 billion will be spent on cloud services. Small to medium enterprises (SME s) are seen to be amongst the first companies to adopt cloud computing, primarily due to the availability cloud offers to essential business software, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions, without the need to purchase and maintain expensive hardware and the continual expense of updating both hardware and software as and when required. With the cloud, SMEs can access and benefit from the same business tools as large organisations, while maintaining lower operating costs. In summary, while many companies are still considering adopting cloud computing, many others, of all sizes and from all industry sectors, are already realising the benefits of early adoption and soon the question won t be Who is using cloud computing but Who isn t Seagate predicts further growth of 46% over the next 5 years The CRN predicts small businesses will spend almost $100 billion on cloud computing service in 2014 alone, as the advantages of cloud computing are recognised According to Forbes, SaaS made up 40% of the CRM market in Maximizer Software Inc. Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered 3

4 3. What are the benefits of cloud computing The most recognised benefit for moving business applications into the cloud is the cost effectiveness. The Huffingtonpost recently published statistics citing 84% of CIO s confirmed they have cut application costs by moving to the cloud, saving 21% per user. And for SMEs, the attraction of no heavy up-front investment in hardware, software and IT resource allows for a significantly lower total cost of user-ship. But how is this calculated 84% of CIO s confirmed they have cut application costs by moving to the cloud Benefiting from enhanced cost effectiveness via the cloud is dependent on circumstances, with that in mind, let s take a look at some scenarios Scenario 1 - The CIO Scenario 2 - The Sales & Marketing Director You are responsible for ensuring all staff have access to on their computers. So, first you must purchase the right hardware, i.e. servers, mailwall and then the software to give each employee an interface to send s and whenever someone new starts, you have to buy more software. You then have to maintain the server, back up the data held and ensure the mailwall is configured properly. This takes resource, so now you are hiring an IT team to manage your hardware and software which is now out of date or is no longer compatible with your operating system, so you are purchasing more software and hiring more staff to help support it is an ever increasing cycle of expense! Or you can pay for a cloud service (Google gmail being the largest) and now staff can access their via the internet. And this is why cloud is so cost effective. You implemented an on-premise CRM system which you invested into heavily in order to save expenditure in the long term. But your business delivery process changes due to a new product release and sales staff are demanded more often at off-site sales meetings. To accommodate this, you have to invest again in in-house servers and CRM alterations in order to allow your staff to gain access to your CRM from various locations. You then hire a new digital marketing manager to increase your company s online competitiveness. They convince you of the abundant power of social media and after a labour intensive phase of testing, you must invest again to upgrade your CRM system to integrate and provide social media functionality. If you had choosen a cloud based CRM, upgrades are part of the cost, so social media is usually included as is anywhere access Maximizer Software Inc. Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered 4

5 3. What are the benefits of cloud computing In addition to saving money, a recent IBM infographic and SilconAngle article listed the following benefits of cloud computing as: Key benefits of cloud computing... Cloud offers seamless data sharing across an organisation, increasing availability to business analytics that support real-time business decisions. Cloud allows work and data to be accessed at any time, from any location, via any web-enabled device, heightening productivity and improving customer service and sales opportunities. Cloud offers proven results, with 55% of companies citing improved Cloud can support a variety of business processes and offer a tighter link between business functions and outcomes, with customisation improving integration between marketing automation services, CRM services and data. operation efficiencies and 49% seeing an increase in employee mobility Cloud providers undertake extensive data security and safety measures to protect sensitive information that most companies wouldn t install individually. 80% of cloud adopters are seeing these improvements in the first six months! 2014 Maximizer Software Inc. Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered 5

6 4. What are the potential pitfalls of cloud computing In 2013, Maximizer Software released research which reviewed the top concerns of small business owners when it comes to adopting cloud computing, with the majority of companies worried about data security, privacy, reliability & ownership. Is my data safe and secure This is extremely important, because your data is your most valuable asset, therefore when reviewing cloud or data storage providers, ensure... They employ firewalls They regularly back-up They are protected The secure web and constantly your data, with multiple from internet downtime interface you use to update their anti-virus data back-up locations connectivity, with access your cloud protection software. to protect your data multiple electricity resources has HTTPS from fire and flood back-up solutions in front of the web Plus check that your address data is encrypted and that the premises are monitored by a security team on a 24 hour basis The Truth: If, through your cloud provider, these data security measures are in place, it is likely your data is more protected in the cloud, than if held on a local office based server, or worse, on your laptop And be smart with your password - update it regularly! 2014 Maximizer Software Inc. Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered 6

7 4. What are the potential pitfalls of cloud computing What if the internet goes down This is a two part question, because you may be referring to the internet going down at your office or with the cloud provider. So let s start with the first internet outage, at your office and what would happen if you lost internet connection now. Well, you wouldn t be able to read the rest of this ebook and you would probably be restricted to making calls, updating a few spreadsheets or catching-up on the filing. However, if you are using cloud business applications, your team can work from any location with an internet connection, whether that means sending your team home or to a satellite office or even to the local coffee shop, your team can continue to operate at maximum productivity from any location. If the internet connection of the cloud provider was to crash, often cloud providers have multiple fall-back locations and therefore, access to your data would remain continuous. Who owns my data Many business owners are concerned that if they were to hand over their data to a cloud provider, the cloud provider would now own that data this is simply not true. However, some cloud providers can make it more difficult to move your data if you choose to transfer to another provider, so it is always worthwhile to check the process in place to remove your data if you choose to leave. Recently, Microsoft released their cloud customer survey results and 94% cited their data was more secure in the cloud than on-premise, 62% said they experienced an increased level of privacy and 75% cited an improvement in service availability 2014 Maximizer Software Inc. Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered 7

8 5. How can I migrate to a cloud solution If you choose to adopt a cloud solution, ensure you invest in the implementation of the solution, migration of your data and most important, the training of the end-users. In short, assign a project team to manage user-testing, data migration and set-up and schedule each step of the project carefully, planning time for system overlap, customisations and integrations with other business systems. By doing so, you will not be left in the horrible position of losing data or fighting poor user-adoption. Follow these steps for a successful migration to the cloud: Tips: Plan quantifiable objectives, whereby you can clearly measure deliverables and report on the success of your cloud project Plan your objectives It would be easy to read this ebook and decide to move your business applications into the cloud, but it is worthwhile to first take a step back and look at what your company wants to achieve. As with any project, identify what your objectives are in the form of deliverables; for example, how much are you currently spending on IT hardware, software and resource to maintain it and what would the cost savings be if you were to move your software into the cloud Cost savings of X should be your first objective. Your data is your most valuable asset, putting rubbish into a cloud solution will only lead to getting rubbish out of it. Ensuring your data is clean before importing into your new cloud solution is vitally important Whatever success looks like for your business, ensure you map out your objectives and identify how your new cloud solution will deliver against each of them Maximizer Software Inc. Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered 8

9 5. How can I migrate to a cloud solution How to move your data Tips: Before migrating your data into your cloud solution, look to quantify your data in terms of the number of records and the type and number of transactions captured against each record. Once you have identified your data, it is now time to clean it and as a part of the process, it is often beneficial to export your data from your old system into an easy-to-use format, like spreadsheets. Once you have catalogued and cleaned your current data, approach your cloud provider and see if they offer migration tools and most importantly, a test area into which you can migrate a sample of your data to see how it looks and behaves. Recognised best practice is to migrate the minimum data needed to make the new system work, while making the old system read-only for a time. Encourage end-users to start working with the data in the new system, while offering these individuals the comfort of still referring back to the old system during the transition period. Review your new system When selecting a cloud solution, you will have completed a review and analysis of the features and functionalities, but remember to ensure the meta features of the system are also properly in place and therefore, any documents, s, reports etc. that you would regularly produce using your old system can be replicated in your new system. Ensure you identified the key functions you need to replicate in your new cloud solution and that you schedule customisation and integration into the overall project scope The success of any software implementation project, whether on-premise or in the cloud, is whether your team adopt and use the system to improve productivity. Therefore, it is essential that all end-users have the opportunity to test and offer feedback throughout the project Plus, it is often the customisations and integrations built into your existing system that enable business processes to run so smoothly, therefore it is vital to ensure you have planned to incorporate the same integrations into your new system and to adequately test or identify suitable work-arounds to ensure you achieve the same level of productivity Maximizer Software Inc. Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered 9

10 5. How can I migrate to a cloud solution Make sure that your users are ready Tips: Often overlooked when implementing new business systems are the end-users but consider whether your business objectives would be met if the end-users did not adopt the new system. In reality, the end-users are the most important factor to consider when moving business applications into the cloud. Therefore, as a part of the migration project, ensure the end-users have the opportunity to test and provide feedback on the new system. Be supportive of issues raised and look to identify solutions that will enhance the end-user experience, but also achieve the business objectives. This may also involve changing internal business process, so this is an excellent time to review current workflows. Account for the risks And finally, make sure that you account for the risk in your project. There are a large number of issues that might crop up in the early stages of your implementation and represent risks for your project, for example, consider the cloud vendor. The last thing you want to happen is for your system to operate below optimum levels because the cloud provider has not updated to the latest online software. Ensure you have a contingency plan in place for all potential risks that could derail the project, from Project Leader absence, to data loss. It is easy to manage a project when you have a Plan B in your pocket Always seek advice from your cloud provider and ask to see project plans for previous successful implementations You can easily avoid such situations with your cloud provider by planning each stage of your project carefully and by using this ebook to help you construct your project Request For Information proposal Maximizer Software Inc. Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered 10

11 Next Steps We hope this ebook has covered the top 5 questions you may have regarding cloud computing and has excited you to investigate cloud options for your business still further. If you are considering moving your CRM solution into the cloud, why not try Maximizer Anywhere for free. Or if you d like to discuss your requirements, call our friendly team of CRM experts on +44 (0) or Alternatively, you can use our other ebooks, watch free webcasts and read complimentary whitepapers - here s a few that might be helpful on this subject: WEBINAR: Cloud CRM: dispelling the myths EBOOK: Cloud or On-premise: Discover Your Best Option Free Trials Try the latest Maximizer CRM for yourself with: ONLINE TEST DRIVE MOBILE TEST DRIVE 14 DAY TRIAL WHITEPAPER: Getting Your Head In The Cloud Share with a colleague Print 2014 Maximizer Software Inc. Top 5 Cloud Computing Questions Answered 11

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