CLOUD COMPUTING FOR MIDSIZE BUSINESSES
DELIVERING INNOVATION AND EFFICIENCY
The 3rd and final part of 3 simple understand guides to help you to discover:-
Part Three:- How to get onto the Cloud….
Step 1. Realise the value of cloud
Adopting a Cloud Computing model requires a paradigm shift in business and IT. Before they invest in a Cloud-based solution or services delivered over The Cloud, it is a good idea for midsize companies to understand the value that Cloud can bring to their businesses. The right Cloud architecture enables companies to reap the cost advantages of shared hardware, while physically separating and securing data with virtualisation. Establishing a task force to evaluate which areas of IT and your business would most benefit from a move to the Cloud is one way to determine which architecture is right for your company. Or, you can enlist the aid of a trusted advisor with Cloud experience to assess your business processes and architecture and make recommendations.
Step 2. Explore cloud capabilities
Midsize companies often have limited resources and therefore want to make the most of their IT investment (dollars, skills, infrastructure, and capacity) to achieve economies of scale. They need surety as they make business decisions and want to be flexible and agile to respond immediately to market changes and opportunities. Cloud Computing directly addresses these needs. However, because Cloud is new and requires the paradigm shift mentioned earlier, putting critical workloads and data in the cloud can seem daunting. To get started with cloud, it is often advisable to focus on optimized technology models or adopt cloud for smaller, non-critical workloads such as sales force automation, time tracking, collaboration, workforce management, application development and testing, business continuity and disaster recovery. This incremental approach will help your company become accustomed to the cloud while reaping the benefits described in this paper.
Step 3. Grow your secure cloud environment and scale over time
After a midsize company has implemented basic cloud capabilities in the exploratory phase, or if the company already has cloud architecture in place, it is time to consider expanding it beyond initial cloud implementations of narrowly-focused workloads. For example, companies that are experienced with cloud services can benefit from the cloud-delivered security solutions as described earlier. Cloud-delivered security of the IT network could make the midsize company less vulnerable to attacks and loss of data. The midsize company should also consider their cloud integration options.
IBM is already known for industry-leading application integration capabilities for both on-premise and business to business applications. Now, with the addition of Cast Iron Systems to IBM’s software portfolio, IBM is able to offer clients a complete platform to integrate cloud applications from leading providers. And, finally, for those midsize companies who understand the value of Cloud Computing, but still do not wish to put their data in a hosted or Public Cloud deployment, they can consider building and deploying private Cloud’s with industry-leading technologies from IBM hardware, software and services.
Next steps: Choosing the right Cloud solution…….
For midsize companies like yours, Cloud Computing is a viable option for reducing operating costs, simplifying business processes and collaborating more easily. However, deciding on the right solution or solutions can be daunting. Do you choose an architecture? A series of services delivered in the Cloud? How do you know whether your solution was designed for a midsize business?
One method of researching, is to look for solutions for midsize businesses that map to the six benefits mentioned in the “Why Cloud?” stage of this series of of blogs series of of blogs. Server virtualisation, automatic network backup and virtualised desktop services can increase business agility. Cloud-based smart analytics and business analytics and optimization services turn business information into insight.
To protect your data and systems from hackers and attacks, look for Cloud-based solutions that identify attacks on and safeguard your IT infrastructure, monitor threats, test web applications for vulnerabilities and continuously and automatically secure your network. Cloud-based collaboration, social networking, email, scheduling and contact management solutions can help you connect and empower your workforce, customers and partners. Smart business desktops and monitoring services, along with development, test and deployment, in the Cloud can drive effectiveness and efficiency.
In addition, before you begin evaluating specific solutions, it is helpful to establish some general guidelines that can help you in the process. For example, does your company view IT as an important part of your business, providing innovation and competitive differentiation? Or is IT a behind-the-scenes facilitator for plans made elsewhere in your business? The answers to those questions can tell you whether to look for solutions that strengthen the role IT plays in innovation and competitive differentiation or to search out solutions that will make it easier, faster and more cost-effective to facilitate plans.
Another consideration is how many physical sites your company has. Firms with a single site find coordinating technology resources easy, whereas those with multiple sites require more work.
According to IDC, on average, midsize firms have 10 locations, with IT resources usually based at headquarters. This can increase the complexity of data and application maintenance, along with the installation of new software and upgrades. Therefore, companies with multiple sites might find that implementing an entire Cloud architecture or a private Cloud is more beneficial and those with one or just a few sites might be satisfied with services delivered from the public Cloud. Other factors to take into consideration include mergers and acquisitions and the role of mobile workers in your company.
Midsize companies that are growing because of mergers and acquisitions – and even product successes – are going to need cloud solutions that can help them integrate existing and older systems from what were once separate companies but are now part of your company. They should look for Cloud Solutions that can provide their entire organisation access to a central set of rationalised offerings. In the case of mobile workers, ask yourself what extent would remote sales staff improve their sales rates if they could access inventory positions or competitive intelligence in real time? Even a 5 percent improvement is an effective argument for using the Cloud to provide them access to that information, especially if providing it to them by other means has been cost prohibitive.
Other questions to ask as you consider Cloud Solutions
- How long does it take you to react and deliver a new IT service to users?
- How many steps are in your provisioning process?
- What is the ratio of system administration staff to servers in your company?
- What role has human error played in your outages?
- How are systems sized and scaled quickly?
- How many images are there per user? Is IT sized for minimum, mean or peak?
- How do you currently manage and track employee expenses?
- How much of your budget allows for innovation that supports new business initiatives?
The answers to these questions and others will establish the guidelines that can help you develop a framework for deciding which Cloud Solutions suit your company best. However, another option is to consider partnering with a third-party advisor with experience in, knowledge of, and experts on Cloud Computing for midsize businesses. A trusted advisor will be able to view your organization with an objective eye, help you identify bottlenecks that you might have missed and recommend the Cloud Technology that can meet all of your objectives while reducing costs and increasing your competitive advantage.
Cloud Computing is a style of computing that provides applications, Data and IT resources to users as services delivered over the public Internet or a private network. It enables self-service, economies of scale and flexible sourcing options. When you take into account the needs of midsize businesses—doing more with less, reducing risk, higher quality services and breakthrough agility – Cloud is an ideal fit. Midsize companies should consider Cloud as an option for meeting their challenges and addressing their priorities. Cloud is simple to deploy quickly. Companies pay just for what they use. The costs per month are low and it requires fewer resources than in-house implementations. And unlike hardware, Cloud Computing is not an all or nothing investment, so companies can keep costs down without affecting performance.
Companies are asked to look at infrastructure and computing in ways that are new to them while being presented with an almost dizzying array of Cloud solutions. Many are excited about the prospect of Cloud but daunted by the task of moving processes and infrastructure to the Cloud. They should consider partnering with a company with experience in cloud. A trusted advisor will be able to view their organizations with an objective eye and recommend the Cloud Technology that can meet all their business objectives while reducing costs and increasing their competitive advantage.
How to get onto the Cloud:
1) Finding a trusted advisor with Cloud experience to assess your business processes and architecture and make recommendations – here are a few examples of people for you to speak
2) Try it for free for one month with SoftLayer, an IBM company. This free one month trial of CloudLayer Computing from SoftLayer allows you to deploy public Cloud instances with exceptional features in as little as five minutes.
This three step guide was produced for Service Address by Simon Porter who is the Vice President for Mid-Market Sales, Europe for IBM ( for connecting Simon via Twitter – @SimonLPorter ) and thus as a result, it enables Service Address to share the answers to questions that we are commonly asked. We do hope you have found this blog informative….