Taking steps toward the cloud

Cloud computing is undoubtedly gaining momentum in the business world as decision-makers seek alternative ways to store, manage and provision advanced applications and services. Yet organizations often overlook the ways they can use the hosted services, as many are stuck on the concept that using the resources will simply reduce costs, according to a Smart Business Networking Online report.

"The current, overused definition of the cloud is 'anything that happens on the Web,' but in the business world, the more accurate definition of cloud computing is leveraging someone else's hardware/software and services to complete a business task," cloud expert Zack Schuler told SBN Online.

Most enterprises are already using the cloud, even if they don't know it. Schuler asserted that firms that have been using hosted email servers, online payroll solutions and managed security services for some time have already dipped their feet into the cloud pool. Yet a lot of decision-makers believe resources are only cloud-based when they have been labeled "cloud products."

A separate study by Citrix highlighted the same issue, as 95 percent of individuals who believe they are not using the cloud really are. However, after being provided a sound definition of the cloud, more than two-thirds of survey respondents said they understood the economic benefits of using the solutions, while another 59 percent believe the cloud will be the "workplace of the future."

What operations can be carried out in the cloud?
When businesses migrate mission-critical resources to a cloud environment, they are introduced with unique opportunities to reduce expenses associated with managing complex hardware, while simultaneously boosting performance. But not everything can be moved to the cloud, not yet at least, Schuler told SBN Online.

To begin, decision-makers should consider hosting email services, if they haven't already, as doing so can reduce short- and long-term maintenance costs that have long been associated with on-premise solutions, Schuler asserted. Cloud-based email can also be accessed anywhere on any device, which is important in today's mobile environment.

Customer relationship management services can be another effective jumping-off point for enterprises, as migrating these tools to the cloud enables individuals to work from home without impairing their ability to access critical information regarding clients, according to Schuler.

In the coming years, the cloud will continue to evolve and provide businesses with new chances to improve operations and reduce costs, giving them an advantage over firms still using expensive and outdated on-premise services.

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