Cloud projects require diligent planning


    As enterprises make their way to the cloud, decision-makers must understand how the transformation will impact existing and future operations.

    Enterprises around the world are leveraging hosted PBX solutions, external storage and other cloud technologies in an effort to improve operations, reduce costs and embrace a more agile approach to adapting to future IT services. In many cases, executives implement a variety of cloud services as a way to effectively ensure their infrastructure will be able to withstand ongoing transformations in the computing, communications and general IT landscapes.

    The cloud is commonly referred to as "the great equalizer," as the hosted services can be leveraged by companies of all sizes and industries. As a result, the business world has leveled out a bit and has become more competitive, forcing organizations to innovate or risk falling behind. Because the cloud is relatively new, however, executives cannot simply close their eyes and pick a cloud solution to use. Instead, decision-makers need to map out an effective cloud strategy to mitigate short- and long-term complications.

    A recent report by the non-profit group ISACA highlighted the importance of establishing a well-rounded cloud governance strategy, as managers who fail to ensure their companies use a cloud VoIP or other offering efficiently will experience major challenges. In many cases, this means changing the perceptions firms may have toward the cloud.

    "Board members need a clear understanding of cloud computing benefits and how to maximize them through effective governance practices," said Marc Vael, an ISACA board member. "This requires the board to see cloud computing not as an IT project, but rather as a business strategy."

    What goes into cloud governance?

    While there are a number of considerations that must go into developing a well-rounded cloud governance strategy, the first thing that executives need to plan is how the technology will augment existing business phone systems and other outdated technologies. In other words, organizations need to be sure they weigh the opportunity cost of the cloud alongside the potential benefits associated with using the hosted services, ISACA stated.

    At the same time, executives must ensure their use of cloud services aligns with their enterprises' long-term objectives, according to the news source. This means that firms planning to embrace mobility and support a remote workforce should consider migrating to the cloud, as the hosted services can provide numerous benefits in addition to supporting these endeavors.

    ISACA noted that decision-makers must also consider which existing assets might be lost in a the transition to the cloud. When implementing cloud communications, for example, organizations will be forced to replace old phone systems with more innovative, software-based solutions. While hosted voice offerings will still require some hardware, businesses won't need as much and must consider how the transformation will impact operations.

    Finally, executives should also be prepared for the new risks they face when implementing the cloud, ISACA reported. Because the cloud environment is relatively new and unfamiliar to many IT departments, enterprises need to be proactive to ensure their use of the hosted solutions does not jeopardize the confidentiality of mission-critical resources or negatively impact sales effectiveness.

    Cloud communications is the future

    Although there are a number of services migrating to the cloud, communications is quickly turning into one of the most appreciated, as cloud PBX solutions are much more open than conventional phone systems. Business 2 Community recently highlighted the benefits of leveraging a hosted PBX system, noting that individuals can access the network from virtually anywhere on any device, which is becoming extremely important as teleworking and bring-your-own-device strategies gain momentum in the workplace.

    Cloud services are also able to adopt more innovative phone system features than their land line predecessors, Business 2 Community noted. This means that employees can access voice messaging, fax to email and other tools that are quickly becoming important for organizations to carry out mission-critical tasks. Additionally, these services are much less expensive than they were in the past, which is especially important in today's competitive business world and unpredictable economy.

    In addition, the cloud is extremely scalable, meaning contact centers and other departments that deal with varying traffic levels will be able to keep communications intact even during times when conventional voice services would have experienced bottlenecks and other performance issues. This flexibility also means that features can be scaled down during periods of low demand, which can reduce unnecessary expenses.

    There is no doubt that the cloud will continue gaining momentum in the coming years, especially as enterprises evolve and demand more innovative technologies to keep up with the rapidly transforming business and consumer landscapes. Rather than jumping headfirst into the hosted services landscape, executives need to take the time to map out their deployment and governance strategies, as this will ensure decision-makers and employees are aware of the changes taking place within their infrastructure, allowing them to adjust as needed to keep operations on pace with demand.