Cloud computing continues to receive attention from the IT world because of its ability to let small and medium-sized businesses leverage cost-effective and flexible enterprise-class solutions. As companies around the world continue to experience these benefits, the cloud will remain one of today's most disruptive technologies.
While cloud scalability lets organizations use high-quality and innovative solutions whenever they want, the real advantage of the hosted services is how companies can leverage these operations to transform the operations on virtually every level, according to a report by JDA Software.
"The cloud services model is shifting from just the delivery of capacity to the delivery of improved business results – or capability," said Joe King, the senior vice president of cloud services at JDA Software. "This shift is due to the cloud customer's demands for more than just technology to solve business challenges but rather a desire to improve their business results – all delivered via the cloud."
Cloud health relies on a multitude of things but one of the most important is that the applications are hosted in a secure off-site environment. When developing the service-level agreement, decision-makers should ensure the cloud network has authentication technologies that only allow authorized individuals to access it, JDA Software noted.
Organizations may also consider using cloud monitoring tools that give individuals complete visibility into the virtual environments, enabling IT departments to make any necessary changes to enhance server health.
Generally, cloud environments are just as secure as traditional premise-based systems, since they still use servers and firewalls. However, since public clouds support a much larger infrastructure, there is a higher chance of vulnerabilities cropping up and creating issues, according to a report by Smart Business Network Online. As a result, decision-makers need to be sure cloud vendors encrypt all data, regardless if it is stagnant or in motion.
Additionally, hosted applications should continually evolve to continue providing unique cloud performance benefits to companies using the services. SMB managers must also be able to access new upgrades that improve any and all solutions in cloud-based environments, JDA Software noted.
"In cloud computing terms, the ability to impact capacity – storage, data and connectivity, or ping, power and pipe – is often positioned as a significant driver in determining success in the cloud," King said. "In reality, it is the business solutions – the capability – that utilizes this capacity and has the most profound impact on business results. Capacity, while important, is not enough to power real results."
According to a recent study by Microsoft, the number of small companies using the cloud will double over the next five years, as decision-makers continue to be attracted to the next-generation applications that can transform IT. The study also found that the number of SMBs using at least one cloud service will triple by 2015.
"Gone are the days of large enterprises holding the keys to enterprise-class IT and services," said Marco Limena, the vice president of operator channels at Microsoft. "The cloud levels the playing field for SMBs, helping them compete in today's quickly changing business environment by spending less time and money on IT and more time focused on their most important priority – growing their businesses."
Still, the cloud may not be applicable for all businesses, as some premise-based systems can offer more substantial advantages. Decision-makers should be sure the hosted applications and services they plan to use will provide real benefits to the company.
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