Written by Philip Washington

Imagine you are the head of Information Technology for a growing, but well established firm. You have hundreds of employees, staff spanning departments as varied as sales, accounting, customer service, human resources, marketing, research and development, public relations, production, and operations. In addition to the challenge of leading a team of IT support personnel, you are responsible for the budgeting, purchase, maintenance, storage, cooling, power, upgrades, software, network, peripherals, and more for the very fundamental and essential technologies that allow the hundreds of employees at your firm to do their jobs. In no small way the company rides on your shoulders.

However, you face an additional challenge, the challenge of resource management. As a cost center in your company, you are also responsible to do more with less —to keep technology costs down while equipping your staff the tools to keep them on equal grounds with your competitors. From desktop computers and laptops to smartphones and tablets, you are responsible to make sure everyone is connected to the network and all departments are working off the same data.

What if there was a way to change how your information technology needs are addressed? What if you can tell the CFO that from now on, IT will be budgeted more like a utility, and less like a capital expense? What if there was a way to have your hotsite prepped with the same data you were working on at the time of failure? What if there were a way to allow employees who bring their own devices to all work off the same system via a web portal, so no matter the manufacturer, model, or operating environment, everyone is on the same page? What if there was a way to allow IT to go lean by only buying the resources you need, when you need them?

While very small companies may not always benefit, enterprise cloud computing is the perfect solution for the well established companies that employ 500 or more employees. Enterprise cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.

There are four types of cloud computing: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, Software as a Service, and Network as a Service. All of these services can be public, as a shared resource across multiple customers, private, or a hybrid.

Cloud computing has many benefits including Automatic Software Integration, Easy Access to Data, Quick Deployment, Quick Recovery in the event of failure, Almost Unlimited Storage, and cost efficiency.

In order to best examine the positives of cloud computing, we wanted to start by pointing out some of the financial benefits. According to Louis Columbus of Forbes and the research firm, Vanson Bourne, “who surveyed 1,300 organizations in the UK and the U.S., including 1,000 Small & Medium Enterprises (SME) and 300 enterprises with 1,000 employees or more with a methodology included coverage of Financial Services, Retail, IT/Technology, Manufacturing, Business and Professional Services, Media, Logistics, and Mobile Telecommunications sectors, with a further small representative group from other sectors… 62% of respondents state that cloud computing is enabling their organizations to invest more money back into their businesses. Cloud computing improved profits by an average increase of 22% according to the study. Marketing benefits most significantly from cloud computing investment…”

According to Racksapce and Forbes, “While cost reductions were significant, the greatest contributions were seen in investments in innovation (48%), new product & service development (45%), and boosting sale efforts (38%).” Further, cloud computing is greener. According to a recent survey conducted by TNS, 64% of companies say that adopting cloud computing has helped them reduce waste and lower energy consumption. 93% companies that had adopted the cloud saw an improvement in at least one area of their IT department, 52% saw increase efficiency, 47% were able to lower their costs, and within six months, 80% saw IT performance improvements after moving to the cloud.

And, in a world where telecommuting is becoming more common, and workers need to be effective from anywhere in the world, cloud computing allows workers to work from any location.

“There are companies that provide Security as a Service cloud products to secure mobile devices in the BYOD world, such as those from companies like Barracuda Networks, Sophos and Zscaler. Automation is key. MDM services help IT centralize security and provide more efficient management over a range of mobile devices.

Further, IT pros can use cloud-based anti-malware services to further uncomplicate their lives. Such services scan data before it ever reaches a mobile device; the network is better equipped to handle threats, and the cloud offers a faster, more agile way of dealing with security threats. Using cloud services, organizations can respond faster if a device is lost by locking down or remotely disabling the device. They can also focus on how to encrypt information and find ways to authenticate both the end user and the device.” – Fernanda Aspe, TechTarget’s Data Center and Virtualization Media Group

Further, large companies have demonstrated that they can reduce their IT staff, and operate more efficiently with cloud computing. Sites like Cloud Harmony empirically demonstrate uptimes in the 96th, 97th, 98th, 99th, and 100th percentile for all monitored cloud servers. These are servers of companies like HP, Google, and Adobe.

Perhaps the cloud’s greatest asset is its ability to grow. As a company of several hundred turns into a company of several thousand, it is critically important to ensure your systems can grow and adapt easily and cost effectively with you.

Without doubt, cloud computing is not only the emerging standard for enterprise computing, it is the established medium by which corporate computing will grow. Like the transition from vinyl records to CDs and vhs tapes to DVDs, standalone servers will make way for cloud computing.

By Ray