Planning cloud deployments can introduce significant benefits

    The technological landscape continues to pressure organizations to implement advanced business phone systems, collaborative software and hosted services in order to remain competitive with rival enterprises already embracing change. While neglecting to adapt will not immediately invite problems, failing to deploy next-generation solutions could impair a firm's long-term survival odds.

    Cloud computing is often recognized for its unique ability to help companies in a number of ways, including providing access to a virtual PBX and other unique applications. These features have made the cloud what it is today: one of the most disruptive technologies to hit the private sector in the last decade.

    A recent report by Symantec highlighted the growing use of the cloud, noting that more than 90 percent of organizations are either using the cloud, planning to deploy it or are thinking about doing so. This is up from only 75 percent from last year, suggesting the private sector is growing increasingly aware of the cloud and its underlying promise.

    Despite all of the potential advantages the cloud may be able to provide, Symantec noted that large enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are both experiencing problems with rogue cloud deployments. These are clouds that are in use without the proper management or integration strategies required with a firm's particular infrastructure.

    "By taking control of cloud deployments, companies can seize advantage of the flexibility and cost savings associated with the cloud, while minimizing the data control and security risks linked with rogue cloud use," said Francis deSouza, group president of enterprise products and services at Symantec.

    What are the benefits of the cloud?

    In today's business world, decision-makers need to be prepared for situations that arise when employees take matters into their own hands. For this reason, some decision-makers remain avidly against the use of the cloud because it could potentially expose confidential resources through holes in an insecure or unstable ecosystem.

    This should not be the case. Cloud computing is like any other emerging technology in that it is still evolving. Similar to the mobile landscape, which is filled with bring your own device and other programs that are sometimes not approved by decision-makers, executives need to make a choice: Embrace change and stay one step ahead of employees or risk exposing confidential resources when workers circumvent IT and implement the technology anyway.

    When decision-makers take initiative to tackle the technology, they can experience the true power of the cloud, according to a separate study by IDG Research Services. The survey found that 73 percent of firms using the cloud report high levels of satisfaction because of the hosted service's flexible characteristics. Another 71 percent of executives said they appreciate the cloud's scalable qualities when compared to traditional environment, while 51 percent said the cloud's simplified management system helps them reduce risk and improve operations.

    While these capabilities are often cited in response to traditional data center demands, replacing an old phone system with a cloud PBX can introduce similar advantages. As the cloud market continues to expand, more services will be offered through the hosted environment to give users an edge over their competitors. Communications seems like the next plausible migration, especially as the remote workforce grows and drives the need for collaborative platforms that can be accessed from virtually anywhere on any device at any time.

    By planning ahead and deploying innovative training programs, firms can reduce the risks associated with rogue cloud deployments without impairing their ability to experience the true benefits of the cloud.