Five Proven Benefits of Cloud Services

How can your company get started with cloud computing? Well, consider following the market leaders. With a few more months of client experience, Forrester Research recently addressed the major questions that executives have about the adoption of cloud services.

The key benefits that most early adopters report do not start with costs -- but rather with business flexibility. According to those that have deployed it, the benefits of cloud computing, in order of importance, are:

1. Improving time-to-application deployment. Cloud platforms give you the option of developing and deploying new applications on existing infrastructure as quickly as desired. Traditional platforms can take up to three or four months to procure, install, and configure, stalling the application deployment process.

2. Aligning IT budgets with application demand. How many Web applications does your organization deploy without exactly knowing how popular they’ll be or how much capacity you’ll need to accommodate that popularity? Many of the early cloud adopters host customer and public-facing Web applications with cloud providers for this reason. They can pay just for the resources they use, hour by hour.

3. Accommodating peaks in demand for data center capacity. Cloud computing is also good for handling episodic spikes in demand for computing, storage, and network resources. Rather than provision for the expected peak of the holiday shopping season, retailers can push the additional demand into a cloud environment. Big batch jobs also fit this model.

4. Delivering applications without raising the budget. Cloud computing gives you the ability to deliver new applications without having to buy systems, avoiding an investment of your firm’s capital in new equipment. Application development and delivery can all be handled using pay-as-you-go operating expenses.

5. Sharing without putting the data center at risk. Many of the early adopters of cloud computing are looking for an inexpensive and easily accessible way to share information. Medical researchers are an example. Cloud services enable these organizations to host data on public clouds, rather than making their internal data center available to external parties.

Three Questions to Ask a Cloud Service Provider
How do you know if a managed cloud service provider is a good-fit for your business? Forrester concludes that you should ask all providers the following three basic questions:
  • What are your enterprise references and what kinds of applications do those organizations run in your cloud?
  • For which application scenarios does your cloud environment deliver the maximum flexibility and scalability?
  • What security and reliability commitments do you make to your customers?

Revelations from Online Collaboration Adopters

Cisco conducted one of the first comprehensive studies of the factors associated with successful adoption of network-based collaboration solutions. You can use the study results to maximize your return on investment from today's online collaboration tools.

One way is to implement business practices shown to lead to more enthusiastic collaboration. Another is to identify and then actively support the employees who are most likely to benefit.

Twenty First Century Collaboration
Collaboration is a process that brings people and information together to accomplish a common goal. What's new today is that in a connected world, people no longer have to be in the same location, time zone, or culture to collaborate.

Tools such as videoconferencing (or TelePresence) and web sharing enable real-time collaboration across distance. Blogs, wikis, and shared workspaces enable online collaboration across time boundaries.

Cisco conducted the first formal segmentation study of collaboration tool users. Their objective was to understand how workers choose to collaborate, which tools they use, and how they believe those tools positively affect productivity, innovation, and cost savings.

Study participant collaboration habits and attitudes placed them into one of four segments: Collaboration Enthusiasts, Comfortable Collaborators, Reluctant Collaborators, and Collaboration Laggards.

Lessons Learned and Best Practices
The results from the Cisco collaboration segmentation study suggest that organizations experience the greatest productivity benefits from collaboration when they:
  • Recognize that personal attitudes and organizational culture regarding collaboration are as important as collaboration tools.
  • Begin by introducing collaboration tools to people and groups meeting the characteristics of Enthusiasts and Comfortable Collaborators. These people tend to be managers or supervisors, have held their job position for 3 to 10 years, and are already using Web 2.0 tools at home.
  • Encourage executives to model the desired collaboration practices.
  • Reward collaboration by including it in performance reviews, offering rewards for successful outcomes, or both.
  • Implement formal collaboration processes. Provide the tools, IT support, and training needed to foster increased collaboration.
The survey studied 800 people in a wide variety of U.S. medium-sized and enterprise organizations who: spend at least 20 percent of time at work using a network-connected computer; use a mobile phone or handheld device; and participated in two collaborative activities within the past month.

Enabling the Early-Adopters to Thrive
The researchers conducted a segmentation analysis, separating individuals into distinct groups based on a large set of attitudinal and behavioral variables. Previous knowledge of collaboration habits did not include the personal or cultural factors that influence success.

Do you proactively nurture a culture of collaboration in your organization? What obstacles did you have to overcome before your employees could fully utilize the latest online productivity tools?

Infrastructure as a Service, in Action

A West Chester, PA-based company was searching for IT help, to more effectively and securely distribute confidential and proprietary content to its customers. Enter Verizon Business, with its managed cloud service offering.

Modevity, LLC will use Verizon Computing as a Service (CaaS), an on-demand, flexible solution that allows businesses to harness cloud computing to better manage IT resources and deliver performance and security that supports their growth.

Better Alignment of Financial and Human Capital
In addition to these benefits, Modevity expects to see a significant positive impact on the company's bottom line as a result of embracing this managed cloud service offering.

"We are focused on continuing to grow Modevity in a smart way by making key resource decisions in terms of capital and staffing expenditures," said Tom J. Canova, co-founder and chief marketing officer for Modevity.

"Moving to a virtual environment with Verizon Business allows us to consolidate our existing server hardware and software, and eliminates future purchasing and licensing costs in that area. It also allows us to add more staff in key areas -- all while maintaining consistent, reliable service to our customers."

Complete IaaS Platform Solution
Verizon Business is providing Modevity with a comprehensive cloud-computing environment, supplying server hardware, bandwidth, load balancing, firewall network security, backup and managed services to support the Modevity ARALOC Content Rights Management hosted solution.

Modevity can now rely on Verizon's out-tasked secure and available Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering. This frees up Modevity to invest in more strategic product development, research and development, and customer support initiatives.

"With Verizon Business as its partner, Modevity can grow its business strategically while relying on us to seamlessly power its customer applications," said James Geary, vice president of Verizon Business SMB sales. "Our world-class CaaS solution will allow Modevity to drive more value from its computing resources while controlling costs."

A key consideration in the selection of Verizon Business was its flexible delivery model and the ability to pay only for resources consumed. As a SaaS (software as a service) provider for content rights management product solutions, Modevity was keen to work with a partner that had a similar approach, as well as provided the flexibility to grow the infrastructure as its user base and global footprint grew.

According to Canova, "To continue to be successful, we have to keep our customer's software fully functional and reliable 24 x 7. Verizon Business understands this, and in fact, Verizon Business delivers CaaS with the exact same approach we use for our customers. We are confident that in Verizon Business we have selected a cloud-computing leader, and that Verizon Business will serve as a true seamless extension of the Modevity team."