Ongoing use of the cloud introduces new opportunities for businesses to evolve and innovate.
The cloud computing phenomenon is quickly becoming the most disruptive IT service to hit the enterprise in several years, as businesses around world implement various solutions to improve operations, reduce costs and follow through on their pursuit of continuous innovation. Because the cloud is agnostic, executives do not need to worry that these hosted services may not be applicable to them, as the technology can be incorporated into virtually any workplace.
While there have been many IT endeavors in the business world during the past several decades, no other technology has been able to transform old phone systems, storage repositories, analytics and countless other projects simultaneously. This unique characteristic of cloud computing has made executives across industries prioritize the deployment of the hosted services, as failing to do so quickly and efficiently may give competitors an edge.
A recent study of more than 850 IT and business decision-makers by North Bridge Venture Partners highlighted the growing use of the cloud in the enterprise, noting that roughly 75 percent of respondents claim to be using at least one cloud-based platform, up from 67 percent last year. While there are still some obstacles to adoption, the majority of companies recognize that the consumerization of IT is an unstoppable force and that employees will often implement the cloud with or without permission.
"Clearly, even in the third year of our survey, we're still very early in the cloud-computing revolution. Yet the cloud formations we identified in last year's survey are clearly on an unstoppable rise. Self-empowered consumers and businesses are taking the lead, and in many instances, regardless of IT. But IT is investing heavily by both adapting internal infrastructure and adopting public infrastructure to respond on demand, while managing the inevitable issues of compliance and regulation through hybrid approaches," said Michael Skok of North Bridge Venture Partners.
Companies also have varying demands they seek of the cloud, meaning there is no "one-size-fits-all" strategy to deploying a cloud VoIP system or other hosted service.
What do businesses want out of the cloud?
The competitive nature of the business world is forcing decision-makers to implement the cloud to ensure operations meet employee demand. The ability to support a remote workforce without compromising connectivity, for example, is a major benefit of the cloud that is not necessarily offered through traditional infrastructure services.
The survey revealed that the most common drivers behind deploying the cloud are to improve agility and scalability, as the flexibility of a hosted environment offers organizations new opportunities to leverage innovative collaborative tools without worrying about performance obstacles. Beyond these reasons, enterprises are also implementing cloud services to support mobile endeavors and continue leveraging advanced technologies that support ongoing innovation.
"This survey provides new insights into how cloud computing is transforming IT. In particular it shows that businesses are using cloud computing to outpace their competition and that, over the next five years, hybrid cloud will become the norm," said Steven Martin of Microsoft.
Yet the ways in which companies adopt the cloud often vary. In some cases, enterprises opt for a hosted PBX solution to improve communications in and outside of the workplace, while other firms deploy the technology mainly for storage. For this reason, it is important that executives create a blueprint for cloud projects.
The disruptive cloud set loose
A CompTIA study highlighted the disruptive tendencies of the cloud, noting that the introduction of hosted solutions is fundamentally changing how companies operate and forcing decision-makers to develop new strategies in order to adapt. This survey revealed similar findings to the one conducted by North Bridge Venture Partners, noting that approximately 80 percent of organizations are using at least some form of the cloud. The ongoing adoption of the cloud is encouraging IT departments to rethink how they use technology to complete mission-critical tasks.
The business phone system, for example, is just a single tool being transformed by the cloud. In the past, enterprise were forced to use bulky, land line platforms that met the needs of the time. As business demands evolved, however, decision-makers began to realize that leveraging outdated communication tools no longer catered to their objectives.
Similar ongoing transformations can be seen throughout the business world, as they are completely changing how employees function in and outside of the office.
"Internal IT departments also are on the edge of major transformation. The option for cloud solutions for various parts of the computing stack is opening the doors for IT professionals to perform new tasks or at least perform old tasks in new ways," said Seth Robinson, director of technology analysis at CompTIA.
As the cloud evolves and matures during the next several years, it will continue to introduce new business opportunities and ventures that enterprise decision-makers need to capitalize on if they are to stay competitive in the future.