Cloud computing is not for everybody, but it is certainly something everybody should get educated on, as it is completely changing the way businesses operate. It is revolutionizing the way IT departments function. No longer is an IT department just an IT department, they are a business group, similar to a sales team, marketing, finance, etc… They are a critical part of the way a business functions, and the Cloud is allowing them to be able to do much more than ever before. More and more IT staffs are realizing that they don’t need to be in charge of all things IT. They are able to delegate tasks to subject matter experts such as telephony, disaster recovery, and much more. A few examples of this are:
- UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service): This technology allows IT staffs to move away from being in charge of the on-premise telephony infrastructure. One of UCaaS most brilliant aspects is the ability to shed the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network, and take advantage of your existing Wide Area Network. UCaaS flourishes over layer 2 or layer 3 topology. With the ability of most UCaaS products to API hook into CRM, Exchange, and other internal databases, IT staffs are able to pull analytics and educate groups (like sales or marketing) on activities that are happening within their company – all in real time. You’re now empowering the IT staff to arm your business with critical intelligence, without maintaining and owning internal telephony. This is more than a phone system, it is a business tool, and it is changing the way businesses operate. I spoke about some of these new changes in a past post here.
- Intelligent Network: One new trend we see more and more of recently is the deployment of so-called intelligent networks. These are networks that are typically Ethernet based, QoS aware, and most importantly, give customers the ability to control their bandwidth with a click of the mouse. This allows the end user to move bandwidth up or down based on traffic to their cloud destinations. Intelligent networks can consist of your traditional layer 3 MPLS, Layer 2 VPLS, psuedowire, and/ or public IP. Despite the similarities in their acronyms, the major differences are in their technology. The newer network providers such as Masergy Communications, gives you the ability to see every single bit of traffic, traversing your network in real time, as if it were a live feed of traffic flows. Additionally, a true Intelligent Network won’t stop at the building main point of entry (MPOE) or access circuit demarcation point. It will be provided and monitored all the way into your server room closet, or datacenter, to give you full view from your equipment to your cloud provider. This vision and elasticity is giving IT staffs the ability to properly predict traffic to their new destinations (cloud providers) and guaranteed quality of the business impacting applications.
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service): Whether a computing environment is large or small, there is always a limit to the I/O and processing power available for applications. In other words, traditional, dedicated infrastructure has a ceiling in terms of workload capacity. Historically, if the resource demand of a workload neared or exceeded that ceiling, systems either bogged down or crashed; these are sure fire signs it’s time to add more resources. Today’s model of rightsizing computing environments often includes the requirement to “burst” a workload through that ceiling, into resources available “as-a-service”. The advantage of bursting a workload to a cloud computing environment is that it allows businesses to run applications on the computer power they have today, and scale that environment horizontally when the workload hits a given threshold. IaaS affords businesses IT agility in an OpEx fashion – paying for only what you need, and lifting that computing capacity ceiling. With proper VM templates, network connectivity, and load balancing in place, IaaS can afford every business an elastic compute environment.
- DaaS (Desktop as a Service): BYOD has helped VDI and DaaS explode in the marketplace. These technologies are the latest answer to supporting mobile or temporary employees, contractors, season or outsourced workers and interns with their Windows environment on their own device. The solution offers the ability, with a simple internet connection, to securely access the worker’s corporate Windows environment on their mobile device, tablet, laptop or desktop. Not only does it provide the worker with the ability to access all of the Windows applications they enjoy on their work computer on the device of their choice, it also provides the corporate IT department with a safe and secure way to address employees bringing their own devices to work. DaaS eliminates the cost, complexity and performance issues IT departments initially solved by deploying virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI, from their own data centers. While VDI has proven not to be a “one size fits all” solution to every department or enterprise, DaaS has turned IT Management into heroes as they can quickly and easily scale desktop support via BYOD, provide centralized management, insure the security of enterprise data and manage expenses through an operating expenditure model. And with the ability to address compliancy concerns in financial, educational, healthcare and other vertical markets, DaaS had become the answer to BYOD needs for IT departments across many industries.
These are just some examples on how cloud computing has the ability to empower IT staffs to do more with less. With these tools they now have the ability to educate all parts of the business and how their company operates. Whether they choose to update an old phone system with a UCaaS Solution, revise their WAN to an intelligent network, move their infrastructure to the cloud, or take advantage of a DaaS solution, IT staffs now have more options than ever before.