A quiet revolution

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Bush Telegraph MD Chris Royden explains how Cloud Computing can change the way you do business

It is predicted that Cloud services will have the same sort of enormous impact on business that computers and emails had.

And with Microsoft estimated to be spending 90% of its annual $9.5 billion R&D budget on Cloud computing, the technology is here to stay.

Undoubtedly, the Cloud has moved from concept and discussion to strategic adoption, but what does it offer? Is it secure?

Nearly all businesses use some kind of IT technology, but many can feel isolated when it comes to IT issues and for some, existing technology can be a real barrier to growth.

For those organisations that expand, this often means buying extra software licences, expensive support contracts, or even new servers, which in the current climate is something that few can afford. Utilising the right technology that’s fit for purpose and is cost effective is paramount.

The Cloud solution can greatly enhance a business operation in a variety of ways. It gives employees the ability to work with flexibility across the whole operation, it can satisfy challenging financial criteria and it offers a wide portfolio of common applications.

Using the Cloud can bring savings of up to 60% and can be even higher for new start-ups. By using Cloud services, businesses can save significant money by not having to purchase new hardware and software licenses.

Forrester Research says from Microsoft hosted communications, businesses can expect up to 50% lower communication system costs, up to 40% savings in potential office space, shorter sales cycles and resolving customer queries up to 20% faster.

One of the biggest selling features of the Cloud is that it makes your data accessible anywhere in the world, providing you have internet access.

The Cloud can also help reduce the need for frequent business travel. You can make free PC to PC calls and escalate to video conferencing direct from your laptop at the click of a button.

You can enjoy face to face meetings with anyone in your network and even include people outside by means of an invite. According to Forrester Research, this means that a business can save up to 40% in travel expenses.

Using the Cloud allows a business to be totally flexible and scalable. Because costs are based on a ‘per user/per month basis’, businesses can confidently budget ahead. IT support is included and the latest versions are automatically downloaded.

The Cloud offers generous space allowances and should the worst happen and your laptop gets stolen, because everything is hosted, all you need is another laptop and everything is back on-line just as you left it, offering full disaster recovery as standard.

However, one of the big issues in discussion rooms is regarding security. Despite people’s misconceptions that data stored on-premise is more secure than the purpose built data centres, business has realised this isn’t the case and data kept locally is far more vulnerable.

Security of data is paramount for the Cloud solution to succeed. The hosted data centres used by the Cloud providers adopt ISO27001 – an accreditation for Information Security Management.

The Cloud solution will not be a suitable option for everyone, but for the majority of businesses in Cornwall, it offers a new way to conduct business.

But select your provider carefully and make sure they have a solid background in communications. Choose locally and don’t be afraid to ask for references.

www.bush-telegraph.co.uk

This article first appeared in the November 2011 issue of Business Cornwall magazine