Cloud computing changes everything it touches


    The cloud continues to transform outdated operations and exceed enterprise expectations.

    In recent years, the advent of cloud computing has dramatically changed the enterprise infrastructure. Not only have cloud technologies revolutionized storage, but it has also transformed the business phone system, given employees access to a wider number of next-generation applications and renewed the way individuals collaborate with one another. While this change began several years ago, it can still be seen today, as organizations around the world continue to implement the cloud in an effort to stay competitive and on the cutting edge of technology.

    The proliferation of cloud services throughout the business world has brought about a change in the technology as well. For the most part, evangelists no longer believe the cloud is still in its early or even adolescent stage of adoption. In fact, a large number of pundits now put cloud VoIP, storage and other applications on the road to maturity.

    This was highlighted in a recent study by CA Technologies, which found that organizations around the world have a somewhat even adoption of Platform-, Infrastructure- and Software-as-a-Service cloud offerings in public, private and hybrid environments. While decision-makers' expectations of the cloud are high, as cost-savings and general performance improvements were presumed to be inherent benefits, the majority of executives believe the variety of hosted solutions under their control are exceeding expectations.

    The cloud continues to look good

    The survey revealed that 55 percent of U.S. executives who are using the cloud have been doing so for three or more years, as opposed to 20 percent of European respondents. Still, the majority of organizations said the cloud continued to introduce benefits well beyond its initial launch date, suggesting the cloud has a long-term possibility of remaining center stage.

    Large enterprises reported the greatest use the cloud, representing 93 percent of all cloud users that have been using the technology for four or more years. Yet this does not mean that only grandiose companies can use the cloud, as many smaller firms are replacing old phone systems and other outdated equipment with innovative hosted services.

    "Going in, we expected the results to be much more balanced between successes and challenges across a variety of deployments and service models. Surprisingly, survey respondents were pleased with their cloud computing initiatives, which validates that the cloud is not just a fad, and instead they are focusing on making the most of it to drive innovation, speed and performance," said John Michelsen, chief technology officer at CA Technologies.

    The study also revealed that organizations have different approaches to the cloud and use the tools with various intentions.

    Why are companies using the cloud?

    While security is still sometimes a concern for businesses using the cloud, these fears are slowly dissolving with more use of the technology. As decision-makers become more familiar with the cloud and vendors address existing issues, the overall landscape is becoming much more safe to carry out mission-critical operations and support a remote workforce.

    Improving speed to innovation is among the top benefits associated with using the cloud, according to the study. This has finally outpaced cost savings, which are still a priority, just not as much as the need to stay competitive with rival firms. Meanwhile, executives identified the cloud as being able to boost IT performance, scalability and resiliency - all of which are important when considering a hosted PBX solution and other communication platforms that are critical to day-to-day operations.

    "As enterprises advance in their adoption of cloud, the desired outcomes evolve, as well. Cost is often considered an early benefit - or even a required result - in order for IT teams to justify moving in the direction of the cloud. Once they show that cloud computing improves the bottom line, they can shift their focus to innovation and other objectives, such as increased performance and enhanced security," Michelsen said.

    A similar study by Neovise found that more than half of U.S. companies are using some form of the cloud, with many decision-makers using the hosted services for infrastructure purposes. This is largely because a cloud architecture enables businesses to leverage various tools and technologies without encountering interoperability or performance issues associated with numerous platforms. Other agencies are using cloud-based communication platforms for the innovative phone system features that are more affordable and efficient than their predecessors on outdated telecom services.

    In the coming years, the cloud will continue to gain momentum as enterprises around the world recognize the potential benefits that may be associated with the technology. However, careful planning needs to be incorporated into cloud projects to reduce the chances of encountering unnecessary complications. By taking the time to find the right vendor, companies can deploy the cloud technologies they need to not only stay competitive, but remain one step ahead of rivals.