It seems today that you can’t escape a technology based discussion without cloud computing being mentioned – ten times.  My conversations with clients today confirm that every IT professional has a fundamental understanding of cloud, but struggle at times to find a starting point.  This happens especially when a company’s leadership is the one pushing for more cloud-based solutions within their own IT service portfolio, but don’t have a specific need in mind.

While it’s debatable as to where cloud computing ranks within the product life cycle, it’s safe to say cloud-based applications are the most mature offerings.   Cloud applications are typically easy to integrate, full of rich features and tools and deliver the greatest value “out of the box.”   That’s why I’ve highlighted below a few cloud application categories you can consider as a good place to start.

Backup – Implementing a solid backup and recovery plan is crucial because you never know when disaster will strike.  I know companies tend to bend the rules a bit to cut down on costs, especially in smaller organizations where budgets are tight.  The truth is, company data is irreplaceable and for a reasonable cost it can be effortlessly backed up to a trusted cloud provider.  What’s more, many backup providers have a data encryption policy that will keep your data safe from any threat and ready to be deployed if disaster strikes.

Email – For a low cost, organizations are now able to offer staffers access to new features without having to extend extra costs to support and maintain an email application.  For instance, this can include employee access to their email from anywhere, on any device, without any added infrastructure.  This is a small but powerful addition to any workforce.

Office Productivity – Small businesses are notorious for running a version or two behind in many of their software packages.  In these organizations IT departments are often light, overwhelmed, and operating on a tight budget.  An application like Microsoft’s Office 365, Google Apps or IBM’s SmartCloud gives budget conscious companies access to the latest features and functionality at an affordable per user monthly cost without additional infrastructure or maintenance.

Security – Cloud-based email security solutions have been around for over 13 years, while over 70 percent of the category is now delivered by cloud-based vendors.  A product like  McAfee’s Email Protection gives customers peace of mind from an industry-leading email security solution, while being fully supported by CDW badged engineers.

Web Conferencing – Whether you realize it or not, web conferencing was a cloud solution from its inception.  Therefore, it’s had years to be perfected. With today’s affordable high-speed bandwidth, the growing list of conferencing features and functionality can easily be supported.  Add hosted voice over IP (VoIP) to the mix and you’ll have a truly proven cloud solution.

Hopefully the applications sets I mention above are useful for determining a cloud starting point.  In addition to these solutions, CDW offers customers access to Cloud Client Executives and Cloud Solution Specialists.  These are cloud dedicated resources who can assist you throughout your journey to the cloud and fully understand that the move to the cloud is a marathon—not a sprint.

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