With RSA’s conference going on this week, there is a lot of focus on new cloud services and how enterprises must start to adopt these new business models. But what they don’t emphasize is that cloud isn’t a silver bullet fix. You don’t simply overnight your entire business to cloud infrastructures. In fact, if you see it as a way to consolidate your services through staged approaches, you’ll see that it makes more sense in many cases.
The great thing about cloud is that it gives you the opportunity to standardize your environment across many geographic locations. More importantly, it allows for phased introductions of this standardization. This is a great option for organizations who have subsidiaries or whom have purchased new locations or divisions and have legacy systems that need to be incorporated into the main infrastructure.
Organizations that want to adopt a standard method for all branches and locations of their business have the option of several key cloud technologies to help streamline this move. Ofcourse, depending on the type of organization and business objectives, not every service is applicable, but they might be useful in segments of the organization as opposed to using universally.
From an infrastructure perspective, leveraging SaaS offerings such as centralized CRM or Email services is a great start. These cloud based services allow for new users to be added to existing systems, and is accessible in most geographic environments. Additionally, major SaaS offering such as Salesforce.com offer localization such as language support. Normally this would be the responsibility (and cost) of internal IT teams, so the cost savings could be quite significant if you are working with multiple language regions.
The second cloud service that helps with the streamlining of business units is through authentication based services. Cloud authentication services allow for the widespread adoption of a single technology platform without the expensive upfront costs of tokens that would normally be used. Many of these services offer token distribution through electronic format such as mobile devices, desktop and tablets. This is a huge advantage as the tokens are managed through a centralized web portal, allowing for self-service models and accessibility from all locations. The cost savings associated with managing inventory and help desk staff (dealing with lost tokens, password resets, etc) is reduced significantly and transferred from a capex model to an opex model.
Another great area to look at in terms of cloud services is through unified communications such as VOIP services. These can be very beneficial in organizations where the workforce is dispersed either through telecommuting or simply through geographic diversity. The advantage with a cloud-hosted UC service is that you can route calls to any supported endpoint and they act as an internal calling group. This not only saves on the cost of setting up landlines on each site, but also the cost of equipment and long distance charges.
Enterprises who want to set up large cloud deployments and move everything to these infrastructure models off the bat see the benefit of cloud adoption. But not every organization can afford to simply say “Let’s change everything over.” personally, I think the biggest gain in cloud is to use it as a consolidator, use it to fix all the legacy systems and office locations that were adopted and that are costing the organization money and resources to maintain. These are the perfect places to start bringing in cloud solutions for testing. From there, you can use it as the standard to streamline the rest of the organization.