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Gaining traction in the cloud, your way

The promises of cloud-based solutions are tempting, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Before hopping on the cloud, IT admins need to consider their organization’s size, complexity and appetite for risk.

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Shopping for a new car is supposed to be exciting, but I found the process more time-consuming and confusing than fun recently when I set out to replace my failing Corolla. So many factors to consider: fuel economy, size, style and how it would handle the punishing winters on Canada’s east coast. In the end, the decision came down to choosing a vehicle that served my needs today, and into the future.

Selecting a cloud strategy for your enterprise is clearly a more complex challenge than buying a new vehicle, but similar rules apply. Some organizations take a whole-hog approach, some migrate their systems over time and others remain unconvinced of nirvana in the cloud, choosing to maintain their own systems.

The promises of cloud-based solutions are tempting: cost efficiency, flexibility, scalability and never needing to upgrade outdated hardware. But there are concerns related to privacy, security and data integrity that must be factored in when planning a cloud-based offering.

Research shows that cloud computing is gaining traction in companies of all sizes and industries. More than 90 per cent of organizations surveyed in RightScale’s State of the Cloud Survey said they would have at least some of their applications in the cloud this year, legitimizing cloud as a solid enterprise investment.

But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The best solution depends on a variety of factors, including an organization’s size, complexity and appetite for risk, say experts. Knowing which option is best for your enterprise can be the difference between a huge win and an epic fail.

All-cloud, all the time: For IT pros who want communication systems that work together across multiple locations, cloud-based systems are a simpler option to implement and maintain, according to a recent Mitel whitepaper, How Cloud Communications is Opening Up Possibilities (and Floor Space).

This pay-as-you-grow model is a good bet for smaller firms that aren’t heavily invested in communications infrastructure, and for larger organizations with BYOD policies.

Happy with my hybrid: If your enterprise is taking a slow and steady approach to migrating applications to the cloud, you’re in good company. According to that RightScale survey, most organizations are running less than a fifth of their application portfolios in the cloud.

Large companies and ones where security is a top concern are opting for a phased approach to migration rather than a rip and replace, often starting with a pilot project to test the waters.

“Some IT pros even start with a cloud-based system at one location as part of a larger communication hybrid system, and then move other locations onto the cloud as their premises-based systems surpass their useful life,” states the Mitel whitepaper.

On-premise: Risk-averse organizations or ones with overly complex infrastructures will be the last to join the cloud party. They’re familiar with the process of maintaining and upgrading, and they enjoy the security of knowing their systems are under one roof.

“Some IT pros feel safer managing hardware nearby,” suggests the Mitel whitepaper. “It’s easy to run down the hall to a server closet if something goes wrong, right?”

But research from IDC suggests these companies run the risk of being left behind, as cloud computing represents the next revolution in business: “It is simply the new way business is done and IT is provisioned.”

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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