How to Get the Most Out of the Cloud
By John Grady
Cloud computing offers better security, easy backups and redundant operations during emergencies. Many common computing, sharing and storage tasks work better when authorized users can access them from any location. Setting up virtual servers, building new IT applications, and accessing stored data all become easier and more transparent when you transition to the cloud.
Surprising Statistics Support Transitioning to Cloud Computing
More than half of sensitive government computing now takes place in the cloud, according to a recent article in Forbes, and the government spends $2 billion on cloud-support services. The analyst firm Research has found that 92 percent of IT professionals support cloud computing because of its flexibility, lower costs and scalability.
Benefits of Standardized Architecture
The standardized architecture of the cloud speeds development up to four times faster than trying to develop software on dedicated internal platforms. Testing and troubleshooting become less burdensome because you can deploy virtual machines for special initiatives, isolate regular business from newly implemented services, and follow best practices that other experts have documented and integrated into platforms. The integration of cloud services for businesses of all sizes include the following benefits:
1. Increase Flexibility
You can use cloud computing exclusively, or you can implement a hybrid solution that combines public cloud offerings for noncritical services and internal private clouds for testing and application development. Using hybrid clouds increases IT capabilities, allows for the replacement of many internal systems and applications, and gives companies flexibility to increase IT capacity during peak periods such as holidays or seasonal sales increases.
2. Lower Costs
You can use the cloud to expand infrastructure without investing in expensive hardware, human resources and software. Virtual computing environments based on cloud servers reduce the need for internally deployed and managed storage hardware, processing capacity, maintenance and energy usage. You can use virtual machines to test new versions of software, accelerate development and support a much “greener” operations environment. The cloud reduces material waste, investments in IT infrastructure and allows IT employees to focus on projects that align with corporate strategic imperatives.
3. Enhance Security
Many administrators mistakenly feel that cloud security is inferior to enterprise security solutions, but specialization and large-scale solutions in the cloud actually offer better security across multiple platforms, vendors and customers. Agile companies need to interact with other organizations, but existing internal security solutions don't deal well with the massive external vulnerabilities brought on by integrating outside stakeholders into the corporate network. You get an extra set of eyes for monitoring and tracking security breaches when you use cloud services, and the controlled environment of a standardized IT architecture is easier to secure. You also have access to the best network and IT security practices, up to date security advice from experts, along with faster responses to emerging threats.
4. Speed Recovery
System administrators spend more than half their time and resources patching malfunctions, updating systems and handling routine administrative functions. An administrator can manage the IT environment better by simply referring to a comprehensive dashboard. Using this dashboard system administrators can reallocate services while patching or repairing problems, maintain updated records of every action off-site and recover from problems without compromising sales, service or company reputation.
5. Facilitate Better Collaboration
Today you can use cloud-based collaboration services to facilitate the sharing of email, appointment management, desktop applications and stored files from any Web browser or device. For instance using these collaboration tools you can set up access across multiple devices to ensure that your sales and service staff members all have their essential tools available 24x7 no matter what computing device they're using or where they're working from.
6. Strengthen Social Media Participation
Cloud computing not only handles proprietary processes but also facilitates using social media tools safely, enabling your staff to stay connected on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Company goals can be accomplished more easily and cheaply through social media including customer-relationship management, and using social media to support brand awareness of products, services and any applicable business and/or social issues.
Cloud services facilitate collaboration. Getting the most from the cloud gives your business a competitive advantage, ensures safe storage of mission-critical data, and provides secure operations that comply with government privacy and redundancy regulations. You can use the cloud to provide secure access from anywhere, better recover from natural and computer-generated data losses, and adopt advanced technology to increase productivity with minimized budget impacts.
John Grady is the Senior Manager of Product Marketing at XO Communications, a leading provider of advanced communications. He is currently responsible for products within the XO Connect and XO Compute portfolios. In his current role John has helped launch multiple cloud computing services.