Streamline Manufacturing in the Cloud

streamline manufacturing in the cloud

Today, manufacturers are already benefiting from the cloud. They use mobile reporting, online dashboards and automation. According to Mint Jutras, SaaS-based apps are already 22% of all manufacturing and distribution software installed today. This will grow to 45% within ten years. However, the use of the cloud in this production sector can go even further.

Today, manufacturing organizations face huge challenges that the cloud is ready to take on, including regulatory and compliance requirements, the introduction of big data, a pressure to innovate rapidly, a global marketplace, security, and much more. While manufacturers have made small moves towards the cloud, they can now fully embrace it.

Why cloud computing?

Manufacturers face many constant challenges. They are increasingly compared to competitors and face a pressure to increase accuracy, process speed, security, innovation and more.

Cloud computing is a popular solution today that is benefiting businesses in all industries – and manufacturing is no exception. The move to the cloud results in transferring many responsibilities and costs to the cloud provider, including hardware maintenance and software upgrades. With characteristics like scalability, cost efficiency, security, centralized data and flexibility, it’s no wonder that the cloud is proving to be such a powerful force in the business world.

By combining cloud computing and manufacturing, these organizations are able to streamline their operations and business. This not only benefits time to market, but it also frees up time, money and resources for innovation. The benefits of cloud in the manufacturing sector include reduced costs, rapid deployment, greater innovation, increased flexibility and improved security.

 

  1. Overall Reduced Costs

With cloud solutions in place, manufacturers are able to reduce both capital and operating costs significantly. These organizations, after moving to the cloud, use hardware that is managed, monitored and maintained by the cloud computing provider. Additionally, much of the up-front capital costs are replaced by lower, predictable operational costs, as businesses use a pay-as-you-go or subscription model in the cloud, which can be adjusted at any time. Manufacturers will undoubtedly see savings in IT labor, operating, space, computing resource, administrative, and management costs. As they see these savings, manufacturers will experience greater ease and innovation within their organization.

  1. Quick Deployment and Innovation

Not only does cloud lead to easier access and lower costs for the necessary infrastructure resources, but it also results in rapid deployment. Ultimately, this supports faster time to market. Setup for production infrastructure can happen in a matter of minutes or hours, instead of the weeks that are typical with traditional solutions. This rapid deployment supports quicker responses to dynamic demands from around the globe that manufacturers constantly face.

Furthermore, the quick setup cloud computing allows leads to increased innovation within an organization. Manufacturing companies can more quickly access new capabilities to easily experiment, share and collaborate. These innovations won’t result in the typical significant costs or disruption of resources. Instead, they may result in a step forward for the manufacturer.

  1. Operational Flexibility

Speaking of the dynamic demands manufacturers face, it’s clear that operational flexibility is extremely important for these organizations. With the immense scalability that cloud computing offers, manufacturing companies can easily and quickly free up the resources they need to accommodate demands. As demand fluctuates, it’s easy to scale or provision new capabilities.

But scalability isn’t the only way these companies can experience flexibility. Cloud computing makes it possible to access, use and share secure data from any location, on any device, at any time. This means employees around the globe can easily participate in remote operations by accessing centralized data and workflows, as well as collaborate with ease while avoiding travel and security issues. This brings geographically separate employees together, which ultimately benefits the manufacturing company.

  1. Full Security

While security continues to be the main factor standing in the way of cloud adoption, it has improved immensely. The cloud makes it possible for manufacturers to extend their existing security model into the cloud and add to it. Additionally, cloud security prepares an organization for multiple threats through authentication, authorization and encryption on both the application and infrastructure levels.

Cloud providers know that security is a top priority for the organizations they work with, and therefore have made it their own priority as well. Providers have the resources to hire security experts and dedicate personnel, time and money to client security. This is more than a manufacturer is able to do for itself, so more often than not, these organizations experience greater security after moving to the cloud.

Cloud computing can help streamline the operations of manufacturers, allowing them to focus on developing new products and increasing sales. While improving manufacturing in the above four ways, cloud also reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing and supports an enhanced customer experience.

Manufacturing isn’t the only industry that’s benefiting! See more about cloud’s impact on every sector right here.

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Prime Telecommunications wins 2015 Cloudy Award from Channel Partners

Channel Partners magazine, a resource for indirect sales channels offering IT and telecom solutions, is pleased to announce that Prime Telecommunications, Inc.  has been selected as a winner of the 2015 Cloudys Cloud Channel Innovation Awards.

Twenty-five winners were honored at a reception at Cloud Partners, a Channel Partners event, in Boston. These winners were featured in Channel Partners’ September digital issue.

“Winners of this year’s Cloudys awards run the gamut from IP telephony to shifting a customer’s entire IT infrastructure into the cloud,” said Lorna Garey, Editor-in-Chief of Channel Partners. “We have cloud brokers, desktop and backup as a service providers, and more. This program recognizes the array of business-focused cloud offerings that partners are delivering, and we were pleased to invite our innovators to share success stories with first-time Cloud Partners attendees.”

Prime Telecommunications partnered with Zultys and CTS Technology Solutions to provide a hybrid cloud solution for the Lyric Opera of Chicago that combined the Zultys Hosted Communications Solutions as well as an on premise Zultys MX system to provide integration with the analog sets on site as well as full back up and redundancy of functionality.

This is one of the first major implementations of the Hosted Zultys Cloud platform and an on premise chassis. It enables the use of SIP trunking, IP sets and analog sets across a single seamless platform. Now all users, whether analog or IP set based, have access to soft phone functions, voicemail to email integration and call center agent are able to use integrated functionality between their phones and their CRM for ticketing.

The Lyric Opera was able to use existing primary and secondary fiber bandwidth, element costly TDM circuits and fully integrate all users onto a single platform with enhanced functionality. The integration of Tessitura CRM software, Clearfly SIP trunking and Zultys Hosted Services as well as on premise Zultys hardware were instrumental in the deployment. Teams from CTS and Prime Telecommunications worked with the Lyric Opera IT department to successfully integrate all aspects of the cutover.

The Cloudys Awards were open to VARs, MSPs, agents, integrators and consultants. To determine the Cloudy winners, providers completed an application that asked them to demonstrate how they are used innovative cloud solutions to help customers grow their businesses.

Channel Partners editors evaluated and scored all applications to determine the 25 candidates that best exemplify the spirit of innovation.

 

 

Cloud Drives the Future of Automotive

The auto industry relies on the availability of a customer’s perfect car. When you have the ability to search inventories on the spot and stay connected, you close more sales and have more happy customers.

The cloud can impact the industry from start to finish – all the way from design to aftermarket solutions. It’s adding collaboration, cost efficiency, advanced analytics, scalability, safety, visibility and much more to a complex area of business. And as the industry internally benefits, consumers will also benefit from advanced technological features and enhanced safety measures.

Vehicle Engineering

Cloud computing enables better vehicle engineering. Thanks to advanced analytic capabilities, design teams can deliver exactly what customers want. The manufacturers become more flexible and can easily adapt to changing market demands.

They are also able to create more efficient designs, as better engineering will lead to less necessary hardware. This could result in less hardware under the dash, more leg room, and the implementation of unique features like heated and ventilated seating, or heating and cooling for mirrors, windshields and wipers.

Supply Networks

Automotive supplier networks are worldwide networks – they’re huge! Cloud computing allows those in these networks to feel a bit closer, as they can experience faster, better collaboration. This leads to efficient product development with greater visibility in management and shipping.

And speaking of collaboration, it’s often difficult for suppliers and manufacturers to maintain efficient communication, due to different software infrastructures. A cloud environment creates a common service interface, allowing these two parties to more easily share data and information.

Cloud leads to lower costs in inventory planning, forecasting, replenishment, and transport scheduling and optimization. It also leads to scalability, allowing supply chains to adjust to sudden, unexpected growth.

The Retail Side

Cloud computing certainly impacts the retail side of the automotive industry. Businesses have the opportunity to gather more detailed consumer insights through enhanced analytics and real-time monitoring of consumer behavior. This data is extremely valuable and comes from numerous sources, like social media, dealership sales, maintenance records, and online vehicle configurators. If the sales team has this information, the result can be higher sales and more loyal customers.

Additionally, the cloud supports advanced dealer management systems, automated servicing and more efficient management of orders and dealer training. Automotive companies must remember that they have to maintain a consistent brand face to consumers, and this is difficult for an industry that relies on thousands of dealerships around the globe. Cloud computing helps automotive companies get closer to consumers.

After Purchase

And it doesn’t stop at vehicle purchase. Consumers deal with service after purchasing a vehicle too, and the cloud can have a significant impact in this area. Through more targeted communication and analytics, the cloud helps consumers remain ahead of service issues and creates more loyal customers.

Additionally, infotainment technologies are becoming increasingly popular for automobiles and range from smartphone-enabled solutions to fully embedded solutions. Consumers are able to connect their devices to their car, gaining information about fuel consumption, locations and service alerts, while also enabling innovations like vehicle-to-vehicle communication services and mobility-related services. Today’s consumers want built-in connectivity, and the industry is moving in this direction. Volvo worked with Apple to create Apple CarPlay, while Nissan has its Connect system, linking cars to the Web. 150 million passenger cars will be connected to the Internet by 2020, according to Gartner. 60% to 75% of these will be capable of consuming, creating and sharing Web-based data.

Safety Features

Cloud computing is allowing for the development of safer vehicles, transforming them into extremely aware and engaged machines. Drive-assist technologies are already being implemented, with dozens more on the horizon. These include pre-collision warnings, lane departure warning systems, hands-free parking assistance and driver attentiveness monitoring. Together, these technologies can save lives, protecting both drivers and passengers. The future is already here with developments like the Google driverless car, which has already covered more than 300,000 miles without an accident.

Green Technology

The automotive industry constantly faces environmental issues, as consumers are becoming more environmentally aware and look to alternative forms of transportation. With the cloud, the industry can embrace green technology to make driving more efficient and help reduce CO2 emissions. There’s a huge movement towards electric cars today. Cloud computing can help lead the way to developing these systems and processes to make it easier to design and build electric vehicles.

This was another great article by Sommer Figone from Rapidscale that I had to share!

Want some more information? Learn how to increase your dealership’s CSI right here!

Cloud for Financial Services

financeCloud for Financial Services

Financial service organizations include banks, insurance companies and securities firms. These organizations are constantly dealing with extremely sensitive and confidential information. They need to balance strong security and data protection with addressing customer needs and adapting to a rapidly changing business environment. With cloud computing, they can find this balance.

Cloud provides secure IT resources and meets industry regulations while providing a multitude of benefits that are invaluable to the financial sector.

Maintain Security and Data Protection

Security is obviously a hot topic in the financial services realm. These organizations deal with extremely sensitive and personal customer information. For this reason, the sector has been carefully adopting cloud solutions, and that makes perfect sense.

However, cloud computing has finally evolved into a secure technology that definitely rivals and exceeds traditional IT. Providers have taken feedback in regards to security and data protection and have greatly improved these areas to better address businesses needs. It’s now realistic to leverage the benefits of cloud computing without risking data security or violating industry compliances like SOX or PCI DSS.

There is a responsibility on both the client and provider sides to maintain security and data protection. Clients must be aware of the regulations they need to meet, and create policies to meet them. A great provider should have the technology in place to address these needs, protect data, and maintain security.

Improve Business Agility

Business agility is the ability for an organization to adapt rapidly and efficiently to changes in its environment.

Cloud computing leads to greater business agility, which is invaluable, especially in the financial services industry. Financial organizations in the cloud have a competitive edge because they can more quickly deliver new financial products and services, move into new markets, adapt to industry regulations and opportunities, and improve the customer relationship.

Business agility also ties right into scalability, as the cloud allows organizations to scale resources up and down as needed, without overspending.

Build Customer Relationships

All businesses today are facing increasingly demanding customers and are expected to meet changing expectations. Cloud computing makes this happen.

In the financial services vertical, cloud allows organizations to move from just focusing on the transaction to actually building strong customer relationships. This is possible through developments like self-service, new consumer applications, improved, targeted marketing, and mobile banking. In fact, more than a third of customers at major U.S. banks are now regularly using mobile banking, and about half of the top 25 financial institutions in the U.S. are now offering more advanced mobile app features, including person-to-person transfers and remote deposit services, according to Adobe.

The cloud hides the complexity of technology from the consumer, allowing them to maintain their own level of knowledge while successfully completing tasks. It also allows financial institutions to gather valuable information on user preferences to enable customization, personalization, and the ability to adapt.

Experience Reduced Costs

If you’re familiar with the cloud, you’re probably familiar with the fact that it shifts a huge amount of capital expenses to operational expenses. This includes things like software licenses, installations and physical equipment. With a traditional solution, prices add up and it’s extremely difficult to forecast costs. That’s not the case with cloud computing.

When costs move from capital to operational, financial firms get what they need when they need it, and they pay accordingly. This is the pay-as-you-go model, and it allows these businesses to do more, with less. That’s a pretty good deal.

With cloud computing, financial organizations can handle the needs of customers and regulators while also decreasing costs.

Improve Collaboration and Mobility

Collaboration is key in any organization, especially those with multiple levels and locations. Thanks to cloud computing, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch and ensure everyone is on the same page. A hugely popular characteristic of the cloud is the ability to securely access information from any device, in any location. This creates consistency and allows various users to access the same information, even if they’re not together.

On the consumer-facing side, this allows customers to access the services they want and need, whenever they want and need to. This easy access is key today, and customers are expecting it.

Speed Up Time-to-Market

The agility that cloud computing provides allows financial institutions to speed up their time to market. They are able to better adjust products and services to changing market environments and innovate and prototype much faster.

This makes it easier and more efficient than ever to introduce new services that customers are demanding. They want mobility, they want ease, and they want increased knowledge. The cloud helps financial service organizations provide these things, helping take them to the next level and achieve things that weren’t previously possible.

Cloud for Real Estate

Technology, especially cloud computing technology, provides huge opportunities for real estate organizations and should become a priority. 80% of the top real estate performers are using some form of cloud. Their use of the cloud can certainly improve though, while other organizations can follow their lead and realize the benefits of the technology.

Real estate is a relationship-driven sector, hence the emphasis on marketing, sales, client service, and collaboration. And when you think about it, real estate is a mobile business. After all, the majority of real estate business activities occur outside of a traditional office space.

Already, these characteristics make the sector a perfect fit for cloud computing solutions. Today, real estate organizations rely on email, file sharing, data storage, Web hosting and mobile applications. These actions are best performed in the cloud.

Lead and Marketing Management

There are countless lead and marketing management cloud solutions that can be extremely valuable for the real estate sector. These solutions help real estate professionals capture leads, as well as track the success of marketing efforts and automate communications.

Email marketing is one of the most popular cloud services for real estate. There are many third-party cloud email services available, including MailChimp and Constant Contact, that are not only cost effective and easy to use, but also customizable, insightful and reliable. Perhaps one of the most beneficial features is real-time insights. It’s easier than ever to gain statistics about who’s opening emails, when they’re opening them and what links people are clicking on. These statistics deliver leads to a business, making it easier for the team to go out and gain new clients. This really helps connect the marketing and sales teams, enhancing collaboration.

Additionally, effective communication now comes in other forms. Marketing communication use to include direct mail, magazines, face-to-face communication, cold calling and other outdated methods. Now, effective communication is taking place over email, apps, websites and connected devices. By taking advantage of these solutions in the cloud, real estate companies can more quickly respond to inquiries while boosting their credibility. Additionally, professionals will work more effectively and provide better service when they are connecting with clients on modern platforms.

Mobility for the Professional

With cloud computing, real estate organizations can essentially move the office online, allowing professionals to be productive – always! They can work from any location, using any device – this really makes life simple. When real estate agents use the cloud, they can access a fully synced address book and calendar, as well as easily stay in contact with the office, clients and other business contacts. If they’re with a client at a property, it’s easy to pull up necessary property information or show comparable options using virtual tours or street-view maps, right from a smartphone or tablet. This doesn’t only simplify processes. It’s also impressive from a client standpoint, and allows an agent to close deals more frequently and quickly.

Customer Relationship Management

Customer Relationship Management is also commonly known as CRM. This type of cloud platform allows a real estate organization to both access and capture information about potential and current clients. It also allows for interactions between the company and its customers. A CRM system manages growing connections in a growing business.

The CRM provides valuable insights around the actions and progress of a company’s workforce. Additionally, it allows the company’s sales team to access and input potential and current client information on the go, easily and quickly. Agents can track properties, leads, referrals, sales, lease expirations and more with a cloud CRM service. Companies can even integrate existing software into the CRM platform, like marketing or storage software, making it easier to compile contact lists or find files all in one spot.

As for building connections, a CRM helps a real estate team collaborate with customers, makes documentation and information available to clients, and gathers valuable insights that help improve business.

Security, Cost Efficiency and Scalability

Though it’s not necessarily the first industry that comes to mind when talking about data security, real estate professionals definitely manage sensitive information including drivers license numbers, credit scores, social security numbers and more. Cloud computing helps the companies achieve higher levels of security and adhere to guidelines found in other strict industries, like financial.

The cloud also helps real estate companies save a substantial amount of money, as the cloud provider handles the costs of infrastructure, upgrades, cooling, power, software licenses, etc.

Scalability is one of the most popular features of the cloud, allowing companies to use resources as needed. This helps real estate companies deal with temporary swells in numbers. For example, if payments consistently come in at a certain time of month, the company can increase power for that period and then reduce again as things stabilize.

4 Top IT Decisions that Business Owners/CEOs Will Have to Make in 2015

In today’s business environment, owners need to assess the advancement in all technological areas, but paying special attention to these four areas will yield exponential benefits in the next calendar year. Here are the four decisions that need to be made:

Is It Time for Me to Downsize My In-House IT Department? IT departments have long served as a vital support structure for ensuring that all business operations run smoothly. However, as more software and hardware applications migrate to “the cloud” and the number of managed services providers grows, businesses need to start taking a hard look at whether or not it is fiscally responsible for them to pay for full-time IT staff. Advancements have made it possible for remote technicians to fix computer problems off-site and run constant monitoring, management and data optimization software to improve the efficiencies of a company’s network. In many cases, entire teams are used to ensure optimum network performance, something that a single employee cannot hope to deliver consistently. As the playing field has leveled, more sophisticated tools have been developed, making this job even more competitive. In fact, many large organizations are beginning to outsource key areas of their IT operations entirely, and it is not long before outsourced IT departments are commonplace.

Downnsize IT Department

How Can I Secure My Network From Threats? With cybercrimes on the rise, more and more businesses are beginning to take proper precautions to prevent company downtime or data loss. Spyware, malware, data backup and anti-virus protection are all vital to the economic well-being of any stable business. In emergency or negligence situations, critical data loss can set teams back for weeks and put a giant damper on productivity. Many businesses are reexamining their Acceptable Internet Usage Policies (AUPs), to make sure that employees are only visiting work-related sites when at the office. These types of threats are usually found on dangerous websites, which can be eliminated entirely with simple site filtering tools that restrict access to unnecessarily volatile sites. Many companies see this need, especially in the case where businesses derive funding from institutional and private investors. These organizations are often required to spend a significant portion of their yearly budget on security enhancing technologies to make sure that all sensitive information remains perpetually protected.

Network Security

Big Capital Expenditures or Small Cloud Transition Costs? With servers and telephony shifting from the standard on-premise solution of old, to more software-centric and remote operation, many businesses are choosing to invest heavily in the transition to the cloud. The biggest driving factor behind this decision is that from a financial standpoint, most businesses want to upgrade their technology, but don’t want to create a large amount of capital expenditures, which constrain financial resources. Technologies with rental programs, or lowered total cost structures are increasingly popular because of their minimal impact on a budget. With plenty of equipment nearly obsolete, many businesses are investigating technologies which leverage a fixed-cost of ownership in their cost structure. This helps businesses avoid big capital expenditures, keeping them lean and mean for the next year.

Cloud Hosting Icon

What’s Our Policy Regarding Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD)? Networks are the backbone of any business. However, when employees bring their own devices onto the network, they can often disrupt the infrastructure and slow the overall speed of the network drastically. Furthermore, these devices can pose as security threats when they are not properly configured to run in concert with all of the other technology endpoints on the existing network. It’s a complex web and network design is an intricate process, which is absolutely essential to get right. Some businesses refuse to let people bring their own devices onto the network, yet the vast majority of businesses allow employees to bring their own mobile devices onto the network, as long as they are properly configured by a leading technology specialist. That way, employees can utilize the tools they feel most comfortable with, without derailing anyone else’s performance on the network.

Bring your Own Device

 

Want to know more? Need help in talking out your decisions? Give us a call at 847 329 8600 and let’s begin the discussion.

Cloud Computing Trends that Affect Cloud Strategy

Over the last few years, cloud computing has become a major technology trend that has infused the market – and the continual monitoring of these trends, combined with regular updates to an enterprise’s cloud strategy, will be essential to avoid costly mistakes or missed opportunities.

While there is significant opportunity for cloud computing, there are also factors that will not only require frequent review, but that also remain uncertain. Below, we outline the top five cloud computing sub-trends that will be accelerating, shifting or reaching a tipping point over the next few years, according to Gartner, Inc.:

Cloud Investment Optimization

There is a wide range of benefits that the cloud promises to offer, including:

• A shift from capital-intensive to operational cost models
• Lower overall cost
• Greater agility
• Reduced complexity

There are, however, a number of challenges that must be carefully examined as they have the potential to create a complex environment in which to evaluate individual cloud offerings. These types of issues include, a lack of transparency, security, the potential for vendor lock-in, performance and availability, integration needs and more.

Hybrid Cloud Computing is Imperative

As it currently stands, hybrid cloud computing is the coordination and combination of external cloud computing services, as well as the internal infrastructure or application of services. Over time, it is predicted that there will be a unified model in which a single “cloud” accounts for multiple cloud platforms – ultimately, bringing together the current aspects of hybrid cloud computing and allowing them to be used depending on the changing requirements of the business.

With this in mind, it is recommended that enterprises focus their near-term efforts on application and data integration, and link fixed internal and external applications with a hybrid solution.

Cloud Brokerage & Cloud Consumption

As more and more companies begin utilizing cloud-computing services, the need for consumption assistance will increase as well – and a cloud services brokerage (CSB) stands as a great option to consider. A CSB is a service provider that plays a transitional role in cloud computing, making it easier to consume cloud services without the need to involve IT.

With this trend steadily increasing, it is also believed that IT departments should start looking into how they can position themselves as CSBs to the enterprise. One way to achieve this is to begin modifying existing processes and tools such as internal portals and service catalogs.

Cloud-centric Design is Becoming Integral

While it is common for companies to seek out opportunities that allow them to migrate their existing enterprise workloads to a cloud system and/or application infrastructure in order to increase time and efficiency, the design aspect should not be overlooked. To fully take advantage of what a cloud model can offer, applications need to be designed with the cloud model’s unique characteristics and opportunities in mind – meaning it is advisable to look beyond just the migration of enterprise workloads.

For more information, please contact us today.

How the Cloud has Matured

 

Cloud is maturing

Cloud computing is definitely the next wave of information technology, and it’s affecting companies, governments and individuals alike. It has taken a while for people to understand the size, scope and potential of cloud technology, and it’s time to stop underestimating it. The cloud has a bright future!

Again, Sommer Figone has done it again. Here is a repost from his posting on the Rapidscale Blog. I could not have stated it better, clearer or as well as he has. Kudos!

The Cloudy Past

Though the true beginning of cloud computing dates back decades, the technology didn’t become a hot topic until about a decade ago. And though it was a hot topic, it wasn’t always discussed with positivity. There were constant arguments about what “cloud computing” truly meant (some of these arguments persist today) and a population who believed it was just another buzzword or fad. Some thought it was interchangeable with Software as a Service, and many were rightfully fearful of cloud data security, which wasn’t nearly as developed as it is today.

But despite the opposition, big companies were making the move. Suddenly, it seemed like everyone was in the cloud: Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix and many more. Those who rooted for the cloud argued that people might fight the technology now, but in a few years they’d wonder why they waited so long. Cloud computing allowed for greater innovation, bringing us platforms we take for granted today, like Instagram and Dropbox.

But even those who made the move, or considered doing so, were clearly not 100% confident. Many only considered a private cloud solution because it made them feel more secure.

Hang up on old technology

Today’s Trends

Since its beginnings, the cloud has come a long way. There has been an increase in acceptance across the board. Even the CIA is on board. It’s no longer seen as a risky new fad – it’s now simply a standard deployment model. While a few struggle with defining cloud computing, it’s now widely understood to be the delivery of computer resources as a service. According to IBM, 67% of CIOs are actively researching cloud computing technologies and how they might help drive business and operational goals.

Security remains an obstacle to cloud adoption, but largely due to the perception surrounding it. In fact, 94% of cloud adopters say it produces security benefits, and many studies have concluded that cloud computing is as secure as on-premises solutions. While security used to be the biggest barrier, many adopters are now capitalizing on it, as well as on control. But as this confidence grows, cloud providers will still have to focus on the security topic. With BYOD initiatives being largely implemented into organizations today, security obstacles will continue to arise.

Today, focus has switched from private cloud to hybrid cloud, which combines off-site cloud networks with on-site computer hardware. This model allows businesses to receive all the advantages of cloud computing without using up bandwidth and while maintaining a higher level of control. In the past, it was all about a one-size-fits-all offering, but now, businesses have the option to design a customized solution revolving around their specific needs.

Additionally, many now realize the cloud computing does not simply refer to Software as a Service, but also includes other services models like Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service.

The Bright Future

It’s pretty obvious that cloud computing has a bright future. The growth so far has been amazing, and we haven’t even reached the boom yet. Forbes has reported that by 2017, the cloud market could be as big as $235 billion, tripling since 2011. It is predicted that companies of all sizes will achieve new levels of productivity and innovation, and that the cloud computing industry will become a huge source of new jobs. It will also allow us to better address healthcare, education and other social issues. By 2020, there are expected to be 28 billion connected devices – you can bet that those will generate huge amounts of data, and only the cloud will be able to handle and analyze it.

Cloud computing will be a home for small businesses, as there are immense opportunities and advantages for SMBs if they deliver their products and services through the cloud. Their operations will be driven by the technology and they will have a greater potential to experience quick business growth.

Hybrid cloud will continue to be the first choice for organizations moving to the cloud. Gartner predicts that by 2017, 50% of large enterprises will adopt a hybrid cloud solution. This will also continue to work as the answer to fears about data security in the cloud, allowing businesses to keep sensitive data in-house while still taking advantage of cost efficiencies and scalability. Security will remain a huge focus of cloud computing, as it will always be important to keep consumer and business data absolutely secure. But as cloud development persists, we will surely see more innovative privacy services.

5 Ways to Convince Your CIO to Move to the Cloud

CIO-priorities

Chief Information Officer.

The meaning of that title has changed pretty drastically since the introduction of cloud computing. Traditionally the CIO focused on purchasing hardware and software, overseeing implementation, maintenance and security, and simply making sure everything worked.

Then came the cloud and an absolute reliance on technology in the business world. Suddenly, everything has to be better and faster, but also cheaper. The CIO has turned into a leader and strategist, instead of simply a maintenance person. This role includes keeping up with ever-changing technology, delivering business value, focusing on growth and the competitive landscape, identifying problems and solutions and choosing new tools to implement. Though the role has changed, it will continue to be valuable and demanding.

But some CIOs still haven’t moved to the cloud, despite it’s impact on the role. There are many reasons to make the move, and the CIO and business will ultimately benefit. Here are five convincing reasons to move to the cloud:

1. Spend Less and Get More

With a utility-based payment model, the cloud has proven to be extremely cost effective. The technology reduces operational costs overall, while also saving in countless other areas. Organizations will reduce IT spending, as well as spending on purchasing and maintaining expensive hardware. And since the cloud provider manages upgrades and maintenance, the IT team is free to tackle other important projects. While these savings occur, businesses simply pay a monthly fee, based on their usage of the cloud services. The cloud makes computing and IT resources much more affordable, allowing businesses of all sizes to experience the latest technology. Seven in 10 respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the cloud environment had delivered significant efficiencies and cost savings – and it’s this fact that is driving cloud adoption today.

2. You Can’t Use What You Don’t Know

But lowered costs isn’t the only reason to move to the cloud, though it’s one of the most well-known. With the cloud, CIOs are able to access and use valuable business insights, thanks to advanced analytic capabilities. Today, organizations can truly utilize data for business strategy and reporting. You can better manage your own growing data while accessing new sources of data to gain amazing insight. With these insights, businesses can meet their goals, develop strategies and grow significantly.

3. See Productivity on All Levels

With cloud computing, productivity improves in your employees as well as in your hardware.

Users are able to remotely access their files and documents from anywhere, at anytime, using any computing device. And that means they can work freely, no matter where they are. They will be more productive while having greater capabilities for collaboration. This also trickles down to customers, who will experience better customer service when your employees can quickly respond to problems.

More specifically, the IT department will be able to switch gears. Instead of focusing on the constant tasks of updating software and licenses, dealing with security breaches, and maintaining equipment, they can turn their focus to innovation and business improvement. The cloud provider will handle automatic updates and behind-the-scenes management.

In terms of hardware, you’ll simply get more use out of what you already have while experiencing great reliability. It’s rare for on-site servers to operate at more than about 20% of their capacity, and that means that a lot of resources go to waste. With the cloud, you use virtual machines that increase this efficiency, allowing servers to operate at higher capacity. This leads to better hardware performance, cost savings and productivity. Additionally, cloud computing better handles all types of failures and creates true reliability. With redundancy, the cloud maintains your data, even if you lose access to a certain machine or a data center experiences downtime.

4. Who says the cloud isn’t secure?

There is still much disagreement surrounding security in the cloud, but cloud providers are standing up to the challenges. While some people worry about the risk, many are finding they receive better security in the cloud than they traditionally had in-house. That’s because cloud vendors can stay up to date on the latest technology and devote more time and personnel to security. What’s more, the vendors are completely aware that this is a big obstacle, so they’ve focused on security substantially in recent years.

Problems that do arise with security tend to originate from the management of the service, rather than the virtual cloud location. In other terms, security isn’t a cloud-specific problem. It’s a human problem. The factor behind 95% of security breaches is human error. And that simply means organizations need to do their research before choosing a provider, because not all providers are equal. The cloud should majorly simplify security processes, and a great provider should have dozens of measures in place to protect data.

While security used to be a major factor hindering cloud adoption, today it’s a key factor for migrating. 94% of cloud adopters say it produces security benefits, and more than 50% of IT professionals rank security as a top reason for moving applications to the cloud. Those numbers certainly display the change of heart businesses are having in terms of security in the cloud.

And the fact is this: if your business doesn’t move to the cloud, your employees will. They will find easier ways to do things, whether that’s using an online service like Dropbox or Google Drive, or adding applications to their mobile devices. And honestly, it’s better if you know how your users are accessing their data. The only way to give them the freedom and flexibility they want while maintaining necessary control over confidential business information is to move to the cloud.

5. Meet All Business Demands

Maybe you’re in a business where content spikes naturally come or go. Or maybe you’re in a period of major business growth. Whatever the situation is, scalability is extremely valuable for any organization. To meet these business demands, you can either continue to buy more and more equipment that will soon be obsolete, or you can move to the cloud. Scalability, or elasticity, is the ability of a provider or an application to instantly and automatically provision compute capacity to meet spikes in demand. You can support business growth without making expensive or timely changes to your current setup. It’s quick and easy to get the resources you need – as described above, you simply pay for what you need, when you need it. The cloud provider ensures that overloading is never a concern, as its team will manage the servers within the data center.

Warning- One Cloud does not Fit All!

Let’s just be clear from the get-go: one cloud does NOT fit all. It’s true that cloud computing technology can lead to some major benefits, including reduced spending, business mobility, greater efficiency and more – but today we see hundreds of cloud providers boasting the exact same benefits. When businesses see this, they assume they can play eenie-meenie-miney-mo and get a magical solution to fix their business operations.

Our suggestion? Don’t choose your provider or solution at random! Do deeper research to identify the strengths of each provider. Why? Because the cloud comes in all different shapes and sizes, including public, private and hybrid models, and some providers might not be able to give you exactly what you need. In that case, you’d be wasting time and money while seeing no business progress.

When deciding whether or not to move to the cloud, you first have to consider what you want. Everything depends on your business’ needs and goals.

So, plan ahead! Because the cloud is worth the planning time. You should step back and truthfully identify your business’ problems, expectations and goals. If you begin the process by trying to decide which cloud service to use, you’ve already missed a step. First, decide what parts of your business make sense in the cloud. Identify your strengths and weaknesses before moving forward. Let’s take a look at how different sized businesses require different cloud solutions.

Small businesses still require up-to-date IT resources to run smoothly, even with their limited budgets. The cloud can help. A small business solution has to be flexible and scalable, with a pay-as-you-go option. This allows the business to only pay for what it uses, which is much more affordable than typical CapEx spending. This type of cloud solution allows a small business to play on a level playing field with larger organizations without breaking the budget.

For a medium business, the issues are slightly different. These organizations focus on growth, and need a solution that can grow as they grow. These organizations also have higher expectations when it comes to software and technology tools, and the cloud can give them access to these resources. In this case, the cloud solution needs to be one that is scalable and offers leading technology applications.

And when it comes to large businesses, the focus switches again. These organizations need to manage all the IT resources while remaining innovative – and that can be a lot of responsibility for an in-house IT team alone. With the right cloud provider, these larger organizations get around-the-clock support and management for their system, allowing them to focus on moving the business to the next level. This cloud solution requires excellent uptime and security with great customer support.

These three examples display only a few ways in which one business’ cloud solution may differ from another’s. That’s why it’s important to establish a plan before making the move.

And when you do decide to make the move, you don’t have to do it all at once. You probably want to start with systems that are easiest to move, saving mission-critical items for the end. This will reduce interruptions during your transition. This also allows you to take time to understand how your business works in the cloud, and decide exactly how you want to move forward. Once you get going, it’s easy to scale your service up or down and move new systems into the cloud.

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: the cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it won’t solve every single one of your business problems. But that doesn’t mean it can’t benefit the majority of organizations.