The cloud paradigm is constantly evolving, however innovative and agile cloud solutions can help businesses of any size to gain a competitive edge in their industry. Cloud can be put to work for enterprises, and anyone from new tech startups to urban and small-town mom and pop shops can benefit greatly. Over 37% of American small businesses have already adapted to cloud computing and according to a 2014 Intuit study, that percentage is likely to double to 80% by 2020. More than a buzzword, cloud computing should be viewed as a strategic tool to further business goals within your organization.
A major perception shift needs to occur on when and where cloud works best. Cloud provides computing power to streamline cyclical operations within the IT department, without having to build costly infrastructure, but it can also be utilized to address specific business agendas. A collaborative effort between the IT team and internal business departments can help implement cloud technologies as viable solutions for business problems to save time, money and foster growth. Businesses that do not just think of the cloud as a shared, utility-based resource but rather map their cloud requirements closely to their key business goals stand to gain better long-term growth outcomes.
Cloud to Improve Business Fitness
Whether you’re an expanding large enterprise or running your own small business, the task of getting it off the ground and growing is easier said than done. Cloud infrastructure built on the latest server technology supports business growth, while reducing operational costs. Let’s look at some of the obvious ways cloud computing can enable business growth and expansion.
Cloud-based scalable backup and storage can easily accommodate additional employees and computers to support business growth, while offering greater protection for client data. Scalability ensures predictable spend and it also boosts growth.
The flexibility and automation within cloud solutions allow businesses to respond faster to the changing digital requirements. This ensures IT resources to be focused on customer-centric services.
Businesses working in tightly regulated environments can get easy access to cloud solutions that have the flexibility and cost advantage of the cloud, while maintaining strict control over the environment specific to the client needs in terms of compliance, security and data location, for example, PCI compliant platforms for ecommerce.
Cloud-based software for bookkeeping, contact management, word processing, and other productivity tools free businesses from licensing fees and allow users to work from any Internet-connected device.
Cloud-based web hosting with design tools for creating web pages, intuitive dashboards and analytical tools for monitoring web traffic can help in building and maintaining a dynamic web presence. Adding e-commerce capabilities to sell through the website is so much simpler with cloud-based web hosting.
With more employees working remotely or through different mobile devices, it is absolutely vital to be able to have 24/7 access to company data on a need-to-know basis for effective time management and productivity. Using an integrated secure cloud storage solution for your business ensures that your staff always get ‘anytime-anywhere access’ to needed resources and documents, which improves potential for collaboration irrespective of proximity or timing.
Properly managed and supported cloud solutions are better at managing risk because they offer more resilience than traditional systems. In case of a server failure, the load automatically switches to other servers in the cloud so that your applications and websites are always live.
How Is Cloud Changing the Rules Of The Game?
Businesses do have a better understanding of the generic “as-a-service” cloud solutions like infrastructure, disaster recovery, storage, email, and more but to be truly successful, cloud strategy must be designed around your business process. Cloud infrastructure and strategy can and should align with the specific business needs of a company. For a true return on investment (ROI) on cloud, business executives need to work in partnership with the IT department and/or trusted cloud advisor, especially when evaluating and purchasing cloud services. A clear business strategy with goals must be defined for the IT team to be able to adopt the right cloud services.=
It may seem complex to adopt beneficial cloud services and maintain their application landscape, while maintaining necessary compliance factors and ensuring uptime but when it is based on excellent business sense, it becomes easier to overcome these typical challenges. The stress should be on designing supporting cloud infrastructure, optimization of deployment of new cloud capabilities, and the ability to tailor cloud technology for a businesses need. To make sure that the long-term vision of your business does not cloud over, you need to do the following:
- Identify business practices and organization processes that can benefit from automation or digitization.
- Discover business challenges in the way of revenue growth.
- Uncover repetitive tasks that may be taking too much time, preventing you from concentrating on your customer services.
- Establish new business models, services and products that you may open up new opportunities for business growth.
Roadmap for Business Growth Through the Cloud
No business can successfully implement the true potential of cloud computing without a proper business strategy, which should guide the cloud plan, technology selection and purchasing decisions. Cloud strategies must truly align with your business goals. Get ‘The State of the Cloud Report’ from RightScale to guide your cloud strategy. Private cloud offerings have become more than simply managed dedicated infrastructures, offering flexibility, agility and efficiency for smaller units within the organization. A private cloud strategy helps provision and delegate tasks that are better performed closer to the customer. While public cloud strategies can fit a large number of business models with services like cloud-based file sharing, email or messaging. Hybrid cloud strategies allow resources to move between both public and private cloud environments. Core business functions can be deployed on a private cloud, while outsourcing non-critical, non-revenue generating functions to the public cloud. Organizations can make real time resource placement decisions based on business needs and market criteria.=
Besides virtualization, new technologies and other types of resource distribution such as containerization along with the rise of parallel computing is transforming the delivery of IT for better business outcomes. Businesses can deploy specific applications and workload orientated cloud platforms for the enterprise. Companies can either utilize applications as a service with full end-to-end management or customize applications for implementation on top of a managed platform or design a blend of applications and platform offerings for the best of self-managed and fully delivered solutions. With software-defined networking and cloud-based security services maturing, businesses can also leverage cloud platforms as a deployment environment. These solutions are now available not just as virtual appliances within the public cloud providers market, but also as fully managed, cost effective SLA-driven connectivity optimization services. Market pressure will continue to force cloud infrastructure to innovate beyond just applications and infrastructure and improve other aspects of IT service areas that were previously not thought possible.
Get Better Business Outcomes
We are all aware that not all clouds are created equal. But a reputable cloud provider will always come through on its promise of ‘flexible, faster and cheaper’ cloud services. Businesses wanting to leverage cloud computing capabilities must choose the cloud provider that can give them a comprehensive solution for their specific business needs. Besides price and scalability, there are some other areas that deserve particular focus. Your data is a financial and strategic asset that has intrinsic value for your business so your cloud provider should be able to protect your data, during transit or at rest. Your cloud provider should also be able to recover your data, applications, and production environment in case of any unforeseen event to ensure business continuity. You also need to make sure that there is proper legacy integration with web applications from your cloud provider to seamlessly run your business functions. IT departments can really partner in business building by innovating business processes and implementing successful cloud strategies. Companies can improve cloud outcomes to reach business goals faster, more cost efficiently and with greater security, at much lower risk.