Cloud disrupts business operations on multiple levels

    Cloud computing introduces new opportunities for enterprises to embrace next-generation trends that will augment current operations.

    Enterprises around the world are reinventing their infrastructure due to the emergence and proliferation of cloud computing technologies, which can transform traditional storage solutions, business phone systems and everything else in between. But not all companies are on the same page, as some decision-makers are fully engaged in their efforts to implement the cloud, while other executives are still somewhat cautious and skeptical, worried that the technology is just another buzzword that won't necessarily introduce any unique benefits.

    There are a number of reasons why different organizations have varying opinions of the cloud, as some industries are riddled with more rigid compliance requirements, making the hosted services seem inadequately prepared to keep mission-critical information safe. Other enterprises believe the ability to leverage hosted PBX solutions will provide them with the scalable and flexible phone system they need to support a growing remote workforce. Basically, the differences in cloud perceptions come down to the fact that there is no sound definition for the technology, uniting all of its benefits and potential faults.

    A recent study by InformationWeek highlighted how a number of companies today are more like the tortoise than the hare, as decision-makers believe they can wait until the right moment to implement cloud services. While this may be the case in some circumstances, saying it is the truth for the entire business world is a lie. In fact, some firms will find that the laggard cloud adoption pace will make it increasingly difficult to compete, similar to running uphill while trying to carry all of an enterprise's infrastructure.

    The survey polled nearly 450 business technology professionals and found that approximately 64 percent of respondents are using some form of cloud and virtualization technologies. This represents a 13 percentage point jump from last year, suggesting that concerns about the cloud are not necessarily completely halting adoption rates.

    "I believe that cloud computing has the potential to be a great asset to many businesses," one respondent told InformationWeek. "The biggest concern will be the infrastructure. I do not believe the current bandwidth can support a much greater demand."

    The cloud is becoming increasingly important as enterprises around the world embrace mobility, which is driving network traffic volume and putting more pressure on decision-makers to emphasize application performance. In fact, InformationWeek revealed that roughly 77 percent of businesses believe cloud-based applications perform better or are at least equal to in-house solutions. This is important for organizations that support a remote workforce, as individuals are using a broad range of platforms to connect to mission-critical resources.

    Cloud, mobility encouraging monumental infrastructure changes

    As the cloud and mobile landscapes evolve, executives are replacing old phone systems and abandoning their use of PCs and other desktop technologies. This was highlighted in a recent study of 1,300 companies throughout the U.K. and U.S. by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Rackspace, with 82 percent of respondents believing that using mobile software and tools will soon become the normal way that individuals carry out corporate tasks.

    By deploying a cloud PBX system, for example, enterprises can support connectivity to mission-critical resources from virtually anywhere at any time, regardless of platform. This is especially important as bring your own device and other consumerization trends make their way into the workplace.

    "There is no doubt that cloud computing is enabling a more flexible workplace using a range of devices. What's interesting to see is how staff are wanting to access their corporate IT services; they're demanding the same consumer app experience in the workplace from their laptops, smartphones and tablets. With our reliance on the PC declining, the onus is on the businesses to deliver their IT services in a format that enables staff to access corporate cloud apps from any device or location," said Brian Nicholson at Manchester Business School.

    As the office phone system continues to evolve, enterprise executives need to take the time to map out a coordinated plan of attack, as the telecommunications landscape will likely continue to evolve in the coming years. This means decision-makers need to assess their current infrastructure, determine which innovative offerings will provide the most benefits for their organizations and find a vendor that is willing to provide long-term support during a firm's quest toward innovation.

    There is no longer any doubt that the cloud is introducing monumental changes to the business world, as hosted services enable individuals to carry out mission-critical tasks more freely in ways they see fit. By planning ahead and understanding where the cloud and mobile landscapes are headed, enterprises will be able leverage the most appropriate, affordable and effective tools that meet their specific demands. This will inherently provide them with a competitive advantage over rival firms that have yet to embrace next-generation trends.

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