It is difficult to read about advances in business IT without encountering multiple mentions of cloud computing. The technology has begun to bed in with local SMEs and the trend seems set to continue. According to research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) about 69% of organisations in the UK have adopted at least one cloud-based service.

The research highlighted that most organisations (86%) operate an on-premise server and continue their investment in on-premise IT while using some form of cloud-based service too.

This means a typical enterprise in the UK has a hybrid IT estate comprising a range of on-premise and cloud/hosted services.

What is clear is that hybrid IT is the new norm. There is no doubt that over time we will see the complexities of monitoring and managing hybrid IT environments subside as operation of the systems improve, commercial policies and practices for data migration simplify and technical standards mature.

Among those who had adopted cloud computing, 33% reported increased flexibility of access to technology as an achieved business objective. This was followed by improvements in uptime and the reliability of IT at 31%, reductions in the risk of data loss at 30% and improvements in IT service levels.

Early adopters are benefiting from genuine improvements in workflow and the services delivered to their clients. For instance, with a cloud solution such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) it is really easy to add or remove a user meaning that an SME can grow and shrink with business needs. The costs to facilitate this are generally less than adding a user to an on-premise environment and this makes it easier for an SME to react to changes quicker and be more flexible in their business approach.

But despite going mainstream, data security, privacy and dependence on internet access remained some of the biggest concerns around cloud. These concerns are slowly being alleviated through improvements in connectivity and technology as well as companies having a pragmatic approach as to what is acceptable downtime in their environment. For example a company may apply different weightings to the key line of business application than to their e-their e-mail system, they may be happy not to invoice for a day, but would need to know that if there is an issue with e-mail that there will be some measurable form of contingency that can be acted upon relatively quickly. Careful planning is therefore key to ensuring that user performance expectations can be assessed and managed with the correct technical solution.

Patrick Leggett – Director at Xperience Group, Irish News 15/10/2013.

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