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10 Ways Cloud Computing Will Benefit Your Business-SAP ByDesign

Since the cloud began gaining significant traction, the buzz phrases are everywhere.  Claims of lower costs, scalability, and flexibility have saturated the marketplace.  But are the benefits of cloud limited to just these three areas?  

A recent study showed that 92% of CIOs and IT professionals agree that the cloud is good for business.  But, that same study also found that only 31% of companies describe their infrastructure is mainly based on the cloud, suggesting that while people believe in the cloud, they hesitate in actually "pulling the trigger" in deploying cloud technology.  

Fortunately, this view is wrong.  Cloud computing does in fact offer many advantages to companies.  The technology does, as stated above, provide more flexibility, lower costs of ownership, offer greater scalability, ease of use, and if done correctly, increases data security and disaster recovery.  But, how does this work?  The following 10 explanations will help in shedding light on this questions.

1) Save money.  While initially, cloud subscriptions can appear costly, especially since you pay for them FOREVER, the key point to emphasize here is that, with the cloud, you only pay for what you use.  This directly contrasts traditional on-premise software that requires physical servers and an IT staff to maintain such.  For example, let's say a small-midsize business has 10 servers, which in mostly cases are only partially utilized, meaning your business is spending valuable resources to maintain your partially used servers.

But server maintenance isn't the only consideration.  By moving to the cloud, you remove a layer of bureaucracy too.  Like most business owners know, when capital expenditures are made, additional funds must be raised, and projects have to go through various teams.  The clould eliminates this altogether.

2) Agility. All companies are looking for ways to be more responsive to customers and new opportunities, and with this need, organizations want a more flexible infrastructure.  With the cloud, companies no longer have to invest in expensive infrastructure maintenance back office/hardware/software.  Instead of having to constantly consume administrative tasks and maintenance, the IT organization can finally do what should be to your main task - growing the business.

3) Flexibility.  In the cloud, employees can access data and services via smartphones, laptops, tablets, from anywhere at anytime.  And, with the new services in the cloud, the ability to collaborate on files and documents simultaneously is finally a reality and reduce email back & forth - still seen in many organizations.

4) Big Data.  One of the more recent buzz words is Big Data.  This is shorthand for the ability large companies have to conduct very advanced analysis on their databases.

Keeping up with information on customer data has been a matter loose and difficult to manage in the past, yet companies can dramatically enhance their analytical skills so to better stay ahead of competition.

Further, the cloud can allow small & large companies to not only store data in the cloud, but also provide the necessary computing power to sift through endless unstructured data, and do so quickly.  In turn, this will give them the business intelligence needed to move the business forward and achieve goals quickly.  With the cloud, it can be done and presented to the user as an easy to use tool.  SAP's industry-leading HANA platform, completely integrated within SAP Business ByDesign is a great example of this.

5) Software Development.  Economies of scale or scalability achieved by implementing cloud software also apply to development in the cloud - especially in large companies with internal teams of software developers.  The cloud, with its standard architecture means that development can be deployed much faster when compared to traditional environments.  In fact, with SAP Business ByDesign, development of software on your platform can be four times faster than normal.  In addition, these developments are built on best business practices.

With the cloud, your data and your solution is on the cloud, virtual machines can be deployed, installed, and tested much faster than physical means that essentially have to be "reimaged" everytime new updates are made, which leads us into the next benefit of cloud computing.

6) Better upgradeability.  For rapidly growing companies, having to perform constant security patches and updates can be a very time consuming task, one that can require a full time employee to do this and nothing more - making the cost far greater than simply time.  In fact, according to a recent Gartner survey, up to 18 days per month were dedicated to patches and updates.  And, the larger the company, the more time and money is spent on routine administration.

With the cloud, an IT team can focus on innovation and moving the business forward.  And, with the increased flexibility gained by cloud-sourcing, IT staff can also focus on more proactively "putting out fires" as well as improving collaboration between employees and managers.

7) The power of "green."  There is also a green aspect in the cloud that helps companies achieve business objectives.  This is because cloud providers can invest in data centers, which offers companies a green alternative to the conventional IT approach.  Furthermore, by opting to use more cloud services, material waste is reduced as less hardware is required.  The cloud can also be used for longer periods of time while consuming less computing resources.  This reduced infrastructure also means you have less equipment to replace and insure.

8) Improved security.  While some argue that the cloud offers less security, thus leading many CIOs to be reluctant to migrate, these concerns are valid, but one thing must be made clear.  Cloud security is not less than the data security of enterprises.  Cloud providers have huge economies of scale, and that experience can guarantee a very high level, much higher in fact than any independent company could set up on their own, of security.

In addition, cloud vendors, like SAP can provide clouds with security best practices straight out of the gates.  The includes everything from the core cloud platform to the processes that are in put in place.  With this monitoring come continuous auditing.  In addition to ensuring high levels of reliability, which means that cloud providers are able to ensure that your business is running the lastest version of the application, if something goes wrong, those monitors can instantly detect and fix if needed.

Finally, cloud providers can also avoid the problem of threats from the "inside," and there is less chance that a single person has general privileges.  Applications people do not have access to networks and/or network systems.

9) Easier to manage. A digital panel shows the status of virtually everything runs on infrastructure, allowing CIOs and other IT staff to quickly identify problems and get them resolved in a timely manner.  With this in mind, large companies have built their systems over many years and may have acquire some of its IT through acquisitions.  Management of such systems can be particularly difficult.

But, the cloud can change all that: cloud providers can offer a unique vantage point of the entire infrastructure and ultimately, the business; something that wasn't as easy to do with traditional software.  Even though companies running either way need visibility, the cloud is easier to handle and can be rapidly provisioned through these tools, reports, and real-time dashboards.

10) More business.  Companies that pay increased attention to business flexibility will grow faster.  As part of this, a huge data loss can sink a company.  In addition, with the flexibility and computing power of the cloud, businesses can gain access to information and reports never before seen or, in some cases, thought of.

The cloud allows companies to increase redundancy infrastructure in all parts of the business, and decentralization of systems (a.k.a. moving to the cloud) increases business flexibility, streamlines disaster recovery, improves collaboration and increases innovation.  Simply put, the cloud changes (and improves) essentially everything in an IT organization and organization as a whole.  

While this article focuses on 10 core areas, the advantages are not limited to these, and results may vary.  It's not really a question of whether a company should move to the cloud, but rather, when.  The viable, long-term, modern business is dynamic based on closer cooperation, collaboration, and flexibility, and it will benefit from new levels of financial flexibility and a more in-tune management team that can more easily respond to opportunities as they arise.