Finding the cloud's silver lining


Date: 13 December 2012

Cloud with silver lining{{}}

Image: Kylir on Flickr

Cloud computing has been a buzzword for quite some time, promising efficiency and cost savings. But what is the reality of how businesses use the cloud? How far have they come in terms of cloud adoption, and what are they looking to do in the future? Lee Wade, CEO of Exponential-e, shares his views

The pace of technological change - which has always been rapid - seems even faster in the world of cloud computing. It's hard enough to stay abreast of the latest cloud developments, let alone ensure that the systems you invest in are robust enough to support the growing demands of your business.

The cloud's bottom line

We recently announced research which revealed businesses clearly recognise the benefits cloud services can have on their bottom line.

For example, of the 79% of businesses which currently use cloud services, 84% see them as key to increasing productivity. However, for 56% of respondents, cloud security is a major reason for not adopting more cloud services. A lack of in-house skills (17%) and inadequate network connections (19%) also hold companies back.

Cloud services can save organisations time and money, but if their internet connections and company networks are not robust, moving to the could could lead to greater downtime and larger costs.

Increasing cloud dependence

As UK businesses increase their dependence on cloud services, they cannot afford to be offline for a second. Moments of downtime can translate into hundreds or thousands of pounds in lost revenue. For companies in spheres such as financial services, downtime can also result in regulatory infringement.

Many companies fear their internet connection is the weak point, and unfortunately the statistics support this. Of the organisations questioned, 23% had experienced a significant number of unplanned connectivity outages in the last year.

Over a quarter (27%) said that they had experienced more than 12 hours of downtime in a year. The impact can be severe: 58% of unplanned connectivity outages affected business workflow, suggesting that the failures were felt across business areas.

Stakes are high in the cloud

The stakes are high for businesses considering a move to the cloud. Yet I am always surprised by the number of companies which still consider their standard internet connection to be good enough, even it can render them susceptible to data security breaches and their provider may make no guarantees about connection speed or availability.

An alternative is to move critical business services to the private cloud. This gives a business its own cloud servers - not shared with any other organisations - with a robust, reliable private connection.

Just as importantly, any organisation looking at moving services to the cloud needs to find a way to assess the plethora of cloud service providers. Key factors to consider include: are they a trusted supplier, do they provide a valuable service level agreement (SLA) and is the network used to access the cloud robust and secure?

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