Moving to the Cloud While Retaining Your Investment in People, Process and Business Knowledge
When businesses consider moving their information technology to the “cloud”, the problem is often approached with a thought that things will have to change dramatically in order to achieve a fully online working model. In many cases, business owners are left believing that any business use of cloud technologies is the equivalent of changing software and systems over to SaaS solutions, enabling the much-desired anytime/anywhere working model. What too many businesses aren’t being told is that there are a variety of ways to move to the cloud, and changing software and systems isn’t necessarily a prerequisite.
The benefits of a cloud computing model are many, with mobility and managed service being the most obvious. Less evident are the potential cost savings, because the subscription approach to paying for IT services may, on the surface, look like an equivalent or even higher cost over time. What isn’t being factored in to the cost (savings?) is the potential to improve processes and increase productivity. These benefits are often achieved simply due to a centralized management and access approach, and are not necessarily attributable to the adoption of new software tools.
For many businesses, the cloud is the right answer for deploying and managing IT and should be considered first, before changing out the software and tools in use throughout the organization. This approach has been widely adopted by businesses using Microsoft Exchange messaging solutions, where in-house Exchange servers are being replaced by outsourced Exchange providers and users experience the same functionality but with far better uptime and protection. The same approach is working for businesses electing to move their in-house business software and systems to the cloud, engaging with application hosting providers to install and manage existing desktop and network applications and to secure business data on the host. Users are able to access their native desktop applications via the cloud, allowing businesses to retain their investments in people, processes, and business knowledge.
Purists may contend that hosting of desktop applications is not truly “cloud”, but the terminology is far less important than the benefits businesses can achieve with a hosted application approach. For most folks, the “cloud” refers to Internet-based solutions and software delivered as a subscription service. When desktop applications are deployed on remote servers and the environment is managed and protected by the service provider, it is pretty much a cloud solution.
Particularly as Microsoft and others continue to move away from packaged all-inclusive solutions for local installation, small businesses are finding that the cloud, hosted applications and remote access provide the answers to a variety of business IT problems. Even more, those answers are being provided affordably, with a simplicity of setup not previously available, and with higher levels of service than was reasonably available with localized IT.
Information technology professionals at all levels are now recognizing that their small business and enterprise clients can experience many benefits with a cloud hosted and managed IT approach. It doesn’t take a comprehensive application or process overhaul to begin improving internal IT operations for the business. It makes no sense for a business to give up investments in training, process development, and people knowledge in exchange for a centrally managed and remotely accessible system. Rather, the smart business takes the steps to solve the real issues of IT management and mobility while allowing users to continue performing their tasks and doing business as usual – only better because the IT is now working for them.