There’s no shortage of commentary on private cloud computing and its adoption throughout large enterprise IT. The benefits of public cloud computing services like Gmail for very small businesses with little or no IT Staff are also well documented.

But what cloud computing options are best suited for mid-market companies? They don’t have the size to justify running their own internal server farms or private clouds. But they have security and privacy concerns with using public cloud services to host their data. These are the companies that can benefit the most from Radiant’s Enterprise Cloud Computing service.

So, here is our first post in a series on how Enterprise Cloud Computing can help mid-market companies, how they can get started, and what they need to be concerned about. Let’s start with a Top 5 list of the the basic cloud computing value propositions for mid-sized businesses:

1. Increase Business Agility: React more quickly to important business opportunities

Cost is often cited as the number 1 benefit of cloud computing. At Radiant we are both a provider and a consumer of cloud computing services. For example, our marketing automation and human resource solutions are both cloud based solutions. When we look at bringing in technology solutions, one of the top decision factors is the time-to-value. How much effort and how much time will it take our resources to get the solution up and running. How much faster can we get value if we get it from the cloud? When you look at technology solutions think about both:

  • Initial launch: How much extra capacity do we need to buy from day 1. How long are you incurring the cost of the extra capacity? Do you really have the resources to get it running? Should IT resources be focused on more business critical functions?
  • Scale Up: What happens if you outgrow the hardware your applications are running on. How long will it take to get new hardware in and upgrade it. How many hours will it take the IT team to accomplish this. What do you do with the old hardware?
  • Scale Down: What happens if a decline in demand forces you to scale down? Your investment in the original or additional hardware resources and software licenses are now a sunk cost and the unused capacity is now wasted.

Cloud computing puts your company in a situation where you can react immediately to business opportunity. Only subscribe to the resources you need at any given time.

2. Increase IT Effectiveness: Everyone likes to complain about IT.

But, their day to day tasks are very trying. Depending on which numbers you believe, IT personnel spend roughly 80% of their time simply “keeping the lights on”. That means keeping E-mail running, internet connections alive, desktop computers running properly, dealing with virus attacks, etc.

None of this work contributes to your competitive advantage or to growth. This is wasted money from a business perspective and very unrewarding work for the IT staff.

Take advantage of cloud computing to get items off the IT plate that are not a competitive advantage (E-mail, CRM, Backup and Archiving) and focus IT efforts on things that contribute to growth. Everyone will be happier.

3. Get Better Solutions from the Cloud!

Does your budget allow you to buy and manage the best enterprise solutions in-house? Even if it does, is that the best use of your IT resources? Here are just two examples:

Mobility: Are your employees asking IT to support all types of mobile platforms? It used to be just Blackberry you had to worry about. Now Windows Mobile, iPhone and Android are all viable options. The days of forcing your workforce onto one mobile platform are coming to an end. How much would it cost you to support all these devices?

Providers of Hosted Exchange, like Radiant, provide support for all these mobile platforms. Give your workforce what they want and let someone else worry about all the technology required to support them!

Spam and Virus protection: Are your employees tired of the spam that gets through your filters? Are the top enterprise spam and virus protection solutions like Cisco IronPort in the budget? Probably not. Radiant’s AlwaysThere Hosted Exchange provides this to our customers as part of our cloud E-mail solution.

Cloud computing democratizes the availability of technology. You can provide your workforce with the same solutions used by large enterprises but at a monthly price you can afford.

4. Align the cost of IT with the service you receive

#4 and we’re finally at cost. So, how is cloud computing cheaper than doing it yourself? There are two parts to this cost saving equation.

Getting rid of the IT cost steps: Look at your in-house Microsoft Exchange costs. First you have to buy the Microsoft Exchange software. Then you have to buy enough hardware to get it running and back all the data up daily. You need to build in enough capacity to make sure you don’t need another hardware purchase in 6 months.

buying software versus cloud computing step function

“Renting” your software (Microsoft Hosted Exchange) and hardware (cloud computing infrastructure from the service provider) from a cloud provider means you only pay for exactly what you need at any given time -  no excess capacity. This results in known costs that don’t spike as you grow.

Expertise and economies of scale: Does your IT team really have the expertise across all IT systems to keep them running smoothly? Are they experts at running the CRM app or the Email and Collaboration apps? Do they have time for it in addition to providing desktop support and running any of your customer-facing applications or websites? Get items off the IT plate that don’t differentiate your business and that others can do better and at a lower cost. Free up your IT staff to focus on those things that will help you compete instead of simply “keeping the lights

5. Security: Can you really do it better?

You often see security as an inhibitor to cloud computing. This might have merit when you compare it to the IT infrastructure of a large financial institution. It is very unlikely that even a mid-sized company at the top end of the category has the security infrastructure and processes that a good cloud computing provider has. The costs are just too prohibitive.

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