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one plus one cloud dealToday, approximately 90 per cent of businesses are using at least one cloud application. Yet, only 32 per cent of these companies are running more than a fifth of their applications in the cloud. The obvious conclusion is that many company executives haven’t quite grasped what the cloud can do for them, which is why it is time for IT organisations to take an active role in explaining the cloud to the business.

One of the predominant issues preventing enterprises from realising the benefits of the cloud is their limited understanding of the technology. In simple terms, cloud computing can be defined as a computing environment consisting of pooled IT resources that can be consumed on demand. The ultimate benefit of the approach is that applications can be accessed from any device with an Internet connection.

However, even more commonly, executives are interested in hearing business cases for the implementation of cloud. Now, let’s walk through some of the most compelling pro-cloud arguments with comments from industry experts.

The money argument

“But can we afford it?”

Luckily for you, the numbers are on your side.

As David Goulden, CEO of EMC Infrastructure, explains in a recent interview: “An immediate driver of many implementations is cost reduction. Both McKinsey and EMC analyses have found that enterprises moving to hybrid cloud can reduce their IT operating expense by 24%. That’s a significant number, and in essence can fund the people and process changes that yield the other benefits of hybrid cloud.”

But where do those cost reductions come from? Goulden explains that while lower hardware, software, facilities and telecom costs account for some of the savings, by far the most substantial reductions can be made in OPEX budgets: “The automation of hybrid cloud dramatically reduces the amount of labour needed to deploy new application software, and to monitor, operate, and make adjustments to the infrastructure. Tasks that used to take days are performed in minutes or seconds.”

The agility issue

“But how will it increase our agility?”

When it comes to cloud computing, agility is commonly used to describe the rapid provisioning of computer resources. However, as HyperStratus’ CEO Bernard Golden suggests, the term can be used to refer to two entirely different advantages: IT resource availability and responsiveness to changes in the business.

Furthermore, he argues that although internal IT availability is necessary for success, the ultimate aim of cloud computing efforts should be speeding business innovation to the market: “the ability to surround a physical product or service with supporting applications offers more value to customers and provides competitive advantage to the vendor. And knowing how to take advantage of cloud computing to speed delivery of complementary applications into the marketplace is crucial to win in the future.“

The security concern

“But will our information be safe?”

Short answer: that’s completely up to your cloud. The beauty of a well-designed hybrid cloud is that it allows enterprises to allocate their applications and data between different cloud solutions in a way that brings out the benefits of all and the drawbacks of none.

However, as Tech Republic’s Enterprise Editor Conner Forrest explains in a recent article: “One of the raging debates when it comes to cloud security is the level of security offered by private and public clouds. While a private cloud strategy may initially offer more control over your data and easier compliance to HIPAA standards and PCI, it is not inherently more or less secure. True security has more to do with your overall cloud strategy and how you are using the technology.” Thus, a haphazard mix of public and private doesn’t automatically make a hybrid cloud.

The customer angle

“But how will it benefit our customers?”

More recently, the C-suite has woken up to the reality that cloud applications can help them attract and retain customers. A good example of this comes from the University of North Texas, whose CFO Rama Dhuwaraha explains: “The typical student on campus today has about six different devices that need Internet access for parking services we offer, dining, classroom registration and paying bills online. During enrolment, most of them don’t want to go find a lab and then enrol – they want it at their fingertips. We have to extend those services to them.”

Overall, the value proposition of a customised cloud solution should be pretty clear. However, as Goulden emphasises: “Most companies simply don’t realise how quickly they can implement a hybrid cloud, or how much money and capability they’re leaving on the table until they have one”. Therefore, as IT professionals, it is our responsibility to take this message forward to the business and develop cloud strategies that serve the interest of the enterprise.

 

Written by Rob Bradburn, Senior Web Operations Manager, Digital Insights & Demand, EMC – EMEA Marketing

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