Cloud services gain momentum across industries


    The cloud service market is constantly expanding as companies of all sizes migrate solutions to the hosted environment, making the tools more available and efficient in the process. Because the cloud offers proportional advantages to any type of organization, private businesses, healthcare agencies, educational facilities and government bodies are all making the transition, adopting innovative technologies in ways that meet their specific requirements.

    A recent study of more than 1,200 IT professionals by technology products and services provider CDW highlighted this phenomenon, as nearly three-quarters of respondents said their personal use of the cloud and mobile devices is increasing their motivation to implement hosted technologies in the workplace. This is because the cloud can be deployed in multiple ways, including as a hosted PBX system or an off-site storage repository.

    CDW revealed that roughly 39 percent of businesses said they currently maintain cloud solutions, up from 28 percent in 2011. More than half of IT professionals also said they are either in the process of migrating or planning to move specific applications or services to the cloud.

    "Organizations' adoption of cloud computing has steadily increased, which comes as no surprise given the growth of mobility and the consumerization of IT," said Stephen Braat, general manager of cloud solutions at CDW. "By aligning cloud services with critical applications and preferences of employees that use mobile devices, organizations can better capture business value that includes cost savings, increased efficiency, improved employee mobility and an increased ability to create innovative new products and services."

    As decision-makers become more familiar with the cloud in their personal lives, they will be inclined to use the technology for a wider range of functions in the office. This means that cloud VoIP and other collaborative technologies will likely adapt to the cloud and become hosted offerings, increasing their availability and overall functionality.

    Communicating through the clouds

    A study by Infonetics Research highlighted that the number of hosted business VoIP users is forecast to double between 2011 and 2015. This is largely because a cloud phone system's features provide a number of benefits to organizations, including increased flexibility, agility and overall connectivity. As the cloud VoIP market grows, the overall VoIP industry is expected to generate more than $76 billion in revenue by 2015.

    "We've increased our short- and long-term forecasts for the voice over IP services market, as adoption in the residential, small office/home office and business segments continues unabated," said Diane Myers, directing analyst for VoIP at Infonetics Research. "The residential segment continues to make up the majority of VoIP services revenue, but the real growth is in the business segment, particularly SIP trunking services and hosted VoIP and unified communication services."

    By replacing an old phone system with a cloud VoIP service, organizations can take advantage of a highly scalable, cost-effective offering capable of keeping up with the demands of a growing remote workforce and rapidly evolving corporate environment. If decision-makers neglect the potential benefits associated with leveraging hosted services in the office, they will likely encounter substantial problems in the coming years, as the ongoing use of digital resources creates mountains of information and high traffic volumes in the network.

    Forward-thinking executives understand the underlying benefits associated with the cloud, as using the hosted services can introduce advantages at multiple tiers of the company. Although there were a number of security and availability concerns when the cloud first emerged, most of these issues has dissolved. If decision-makers continue to use these as excuses, they will find themselves in a precarious position.