Written by: Chris Mankle, Vice President and chief technology officer, ITO Strategy & Service Management, ACS, A Xerox Company
The cloud is everywhere.
It has changed how organizations manage their business. It touches everything from the software running your desktop computer to your complex business processes and your foundational IT infrastructure.
The cloud has also provided dramatic gains in efficiency and productivity. It has pervaded blogs, industry conferences and the minds of CIOs with its promise of adaptability, cost benefits and agility, but despite its advantages, some are still hesitant to get onboard due to its inherent risks. Contracts and assurances only seem to go so far when there’s an underlying concern of trust: Will processes continue to function? Will data be protected and kept confidential?
These hurdles lie in the way before the cloud becomes a widely accepted paradigm for computing, but nevertheless, it is fast becoming a dynamic force in business. With the right approach, cloud-based services can improve performance and create a competitive edge for forward-thinking businesses.
What the Cloud Can Do for You
Many business leaders view the cloud as the next big thing in IT, document management and business process outsourcing, and it’s easy to see why. It enables companies to add IT capabilities or capacity when they need it – without investing in a new infrastructure. A flexible, on-demand model can bring new agility, enabling IT to better align with business objectives and shift its focus from operations to innovation. It also helps businesses make the most of their documents and workflows. Specifically, these benefits include:
· Flexibility and scalability: Because there is no infrastructure to manage and maintain for the cloud, and businesses only pay for what they use. Instead of investing in permanent resources that may not be needed in the future, businesses can just tap into the cloud for immediate needs.
· Unlimited storage and processing power: The cloud is a bottomless source of storage capacity, which means businesses don’t have to expand a data center or add servers to a network. Similarly, it houses vast computational power, so there’s no need to add more CPUs to an in-house IT infrastructure. In addition to costs, this helps companies reduce the need for overall energy consumption.
· Benchmark technology and best practices: Leading providers of cloud services are able to provide innovative technology and current best practices thanks to size and resources, and businesses reap the benefits.
· Streamlined implementations: As more data and documents move to the cloud, the platform becomes a key resource for knowledge workers to share information, create and revise documents and collaborate in real time.
Mitigating Security Concerns
Despite all of these advantages, however, many organizations are delaying the decision to tap into the cloud. One of the main reasons for the holdup is the understandable concern about security.
In many cases, this concern can be resolved through private clouds. Information security is an issue with any shared environment, but private clouds developed and maintained by a trusted provider ensure that information may be more secure than if it’s stored inside a firewall. Providers of private cloud services typically operate security systems that are multilayered and more robust and effective than organizations can create on their own. As a result, they often set the standard for information security today.
What to Look for in a Provider
Since cloud computing is a form of outsourcing, all of the key issues from information security and privacy to service quality and reliability ultimately come down to one thing: the choice of someone you trust. When looking for a provider, businesses should choose one whose offering aligns with the following principles:
· Security measures should be designed to support the business, not impede it.
· The system should approach defense from a multiple-layer standpoint spread throughout the expanse of the IT infrastructure.
· The security design should be flexible enough to adapt to changing business situations and evolving technology.
Businesses can have great success with cloud computing by doing a little research. Finding a provider that has a long track record of performance, a reputation for innovation, leading-edge technology and expertise, and a comprehensive portfolio of best practices, will enhance their chances for a successful business transformation effort and an edge over the competition.
About the author
Chris Mankle is chief technology officer for IT Outsourcing in ACS, A Xerox Company. He leads the CTO Office in driving and delivering innovation, developing and executing a strategy, recommending the best solutions, creating a vision, promoting innovative solutions, and identifying and driving new business opportunities.