IT Solutions for Your Industry
Small & Medium Business
Until recently, the term “Cloud Computing” was a nebulous, mysterious phrase which elicited great excitement among the technical community but was met with mute incomprehension from everybody else. This is in spite of the fact that we’ve been computing in the cloud since the very dawn of the Internet: our everyday email services such as Hotmail and Gmail can be considered cloud services. But until recently, cloud computing has lacked the reliability and resilience to be considered as true business-grade services.
While it sounds highly complicated, the concept of computing “in the cloud” is simplicity itself. Cloud computing is where businesses take delivery of everyday IT services — such as backup, data storage or software applications — over an Internet connection, rather than hosting the necessary hardware and software themselves.
Key systems such as databases and software reside on a service provider’s network, so SMEs do not have to face the large capital costs of buying, implementing and managing their own IT equipment. Instead, they take advantage of their service providers’ enterprise-level services and infrastructure.
Because businesses only pay for the services they need and use, they are liberated from the constraints of traditional proprietary IT. Smaller firms gain access to the highest standards of storage, data backup and disaster recovery services which were previously prohibitively expensive.
Cloud computing gives small businesses the flexibility to adapt to changing economic conditions and sudden growth or decline in staff numbers. Moreover, because data, applications and equipment are all managed by the service provider, cloud computing slashes the time and money that smaller companies need to devote to IT maintenance.
You might expect that the privilege of using first-class infrastructure would come with a hefty price tag. However, the beauty of cloud computing is that small businesses need only pay a small subscription to access these services. Economies of scale mean that service providers can invest in the best, most reliable network equipment and infrastructure for their clients.
Now, business-grade cloud computing is no longer a pipedream — businesses around the world are already reaping the benefits, while Merrill Lynch predicts that the annual global market for cloud computing will reach 95b by 2013.
As more and more services providers begin to offer cloud services, small- and medium-sized businesses have never had a greater range of choice. It’s important, however, that businesses should not be dazzled when they see that their ISP offers cloud services. As with any product or service, not every cloud computing provider is the same. To ensure the best possible levels of availability and protection for their business-critical data and systems, SMEs need to choose their cloud provider with care.
The healthcare industry is the furthest along in cloud adoption, compared to the financial services industry and the energy and utilities industry, according to a West Monroe Partners report.
For the report, West Monroe Partners surveyed 300 business and technology leaders from the three industries to identify their respective organizations' maturity in digital adoption, including cloud computing, data strategy and customer engagement.
Thirty-five percent of healthcare organizations housed more than 50 percent of their data or infrastructure in the cloud. By comparison, 31 percent of energy and utilities organizations and 18 percent of financial services organizations housed at least half of their data or infrastructure in the cloud.
Healthcare respondents indicated the cloud provided a way to reduce risk of a data breach, while also lowering costs.
"In an industry that has tended to lag in technology adoption, the next step is to leverage the cloud for interoperability and care coordination," the report reads. "In other words, use the cloud to facilitate secure and efficient communication among patients, doctors, hospitals and payers."
5 Ways Cloud Computing is Useful for Retail Industries:
1. Improved Channel Operations:
Retailers who have not moved to the cloud are still running on outdated systems and operating models that are out of step with current market trends. Cloud-based solutions can simplify the systems and deliver more personalized customer experience. Retail as a Service (RaaS) can integrate the different verticals like inventory and order processing thus improving your restocking capabilities. The best advantage of moving to the cloud is the flexibility pay as you use. In short, lower costs and higher efficiency.
2. Higher Supply Chain Visibility:
With cloud computing, retailers can have an enterprise-wide supply chain visibility. With the cloud, retailers can have supply chain systems capable of adequately handling their business without stock-outs, expedited deliveries, or high inventories. Cloud also helps to capture real-time status of consignments, digitized documents from suppliers, carriers, logistics providers, brokers etc.
3. Better Merchandising Decisions:
Cloud computing and Big Data can provide meaningful insights about customer preferences that can help in making merchandising decisions. Retailers can analyze customer buying trends and can decide about what to stock, how to stock and how to promote. It also lowers the time to market for retail goods.
4. Personalized Customer Service:
Personalized customer service can extend from to offers based on buying patterns to customer success management. Big data can provide real customer insights and hence helps retailers to offer more personalized offerings and customer service. Cloud services can merge the in-store data with the digital data to offer best solutions to their customers.
5. Better Insights into Business Performance:
With cloud computing, retailers can have an enterprise-wide supply chain visibility. With the cloud, retailers can have supply chain systems capable of adequately handling their business without stock-outs, expedited deliveries, or high inventories. Cloud also helps to capture real-time status of consignments, digitized documents from suppliers, carriers, logistics providers, brokers etc
Why Store in the Cloud?
Are there really any true advantages in education for storing information off-site on a server that could be located anywhere? The answer is yes! A recent conversation about cloud computing with several colleagues in the education field, including a high school chemistry teacher, revealed significant advantages:
No more carrying around devices, such as thumb drives or CDs. You don’t need to worry about losing the device, breaking the CD, or not having your information load properly.
Easy access! Lesson plans, labs, grades, notes, PowerPoint slides – just about anything digital that you use in teaching is easily uploaded and accessed anytime.
Stability: cloud computing is now to the point of being a very stable technology that you can rely on.
Security: Your data, content, information, images – anything you store in the cloud usually requires authentication (ID and password, for example) – so it is not easily accessible by anyone. In addition, should something happen to the technology at school, your content will still be available to you and your students if it is stored elsewhere.
Shareability: Working on an instructional assignment with other teachers? You can share some or all of your files that you have stored in the cloud. No more obtaining an extra thumb drive or burning another CD or DVD. You just need to send a link to the file(s) destination.
Trackability: Make changes to a lesson and want to change it back? No problem. Cloud computing will save multiple revisions and versions of a document so that you can chronologically trace back the evolution of an item.
Collaboration: You can set-up various student groups to work on projects and assignments in the cloud.
Good-bye copier! That’s right! With cloud computing, the amount of photocopying is reduced significantly – even more so if each student has their own smart device (computer, laptop, tablet, etc.). Quizzes, tests, assignments all can be taken, scored, shared with student and parents, and stored.
Good-bye file cabinets! With cloud computing redundancy, there is no longer the need to both save files digitally as well as in paper format. Cloud computing systems are regularly backed-up, so the chances of losing content are quite small. And, no more file cabinets means more classroom space for you and your students!
While cloud deployments are mainly considered to contain costs by sharing services and infrastructures, government agencies have also devised innovative means of ensuring compliance across the enterprise (FedRAMP, for example). They’ve also been able to lower barriers to new business creation. Additionally, cloud adoption is helping governments to improve business flexibility despite their back-end silo systems. The U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, DOJ, USDA, Department of Education and more have been early cloud adopters, setting the trend and direction for others to follow.
The federal government isn’t solely relying on the same cloud computing model that hosts some of your favorite consumer applications delivered via the cloud like Netflix or Instagram. The private cloud environments they operate in definitely leverage some of the characteristics of elasticity in those public clouds but they need to be more reliable to handle mission critical workloads. That’s why IDC says that by FY 2014 U.S. Federal government spending on private cloud will be $1.7 billion vs. just $118.3 million on public cloud.
Government organizations are redefining their businesses to deliver improved citizen services. According to the U.S. Federal Cloud Computing Strategy the U.S. government instituted the CloudFirst policy to accelerate the pace of cloud adoption. This document promotes the service management, innovation and adoption of emerging technologies. According to this document, “focus will shift from the technology itself to the core competencies and mission of the agency.”
Many agencies must support their mission-critical operations with agile and innovative cloud deployments that incorporate mobile, social and analytics technologies. However, they also have to take stringent compliance and security measures (FISMA, FIPS and FedRAMP mandates) to not compromise on national security from inside and outside threats.