10 Ways the Cloud Can Support You and Your Users this Summer
This is the second post in the mini-series that I'm planning, to coincide with the Games taking place in London this summer. In my previous post I suggested the arrival of the Olympic Games on London will probably cause businesses to rethink about how best to service their users, especially if a greater number of users than usual are working remotely.
This summer London's businesses will have to face a set of untested scenarios as more of the workforce are driven to work outside of their normal patterns. Remote working in particular will be high on everyone's agenda as the advice from Boris to Londoners is to get ahead of the games. Previously I suggested the Cloud as a solution to support you and your remote users, especially for highly demanded services like email; so here are ten ways the Cloud can help take the weight during the Games.
- Ubiquity of access: The Cloud, by definition, is available from pretty much anywhere you can get an Internet connection, but unlike your own remote access platforms it is built for access, and lots of it. Your users can access Cloud-enabled services from any device and any Internet connection, they're not limited to a single VPN service or gateway.
- Scalability of access: Your own remote access service was something I covered in the last blog post, in that the in-house systems you've got were probably only designed for a small percentage of your users. The Cloud services' your business can use are completely different - those services were built with the ubiquity of access (above) in mind so won't act as the remote access bottle-neck like your on-premise solution.
- Make remote working easy: I often watch remote workers on trains and in cafés trying to access their corporate systems. Usually there is a VPN client required, a token of some sort, multiple interfaces and portals to negotiate, some even send a text or make a phone call. Most of the time all of these people want to do is simply hit send/receive in Outlook. I'm not being disparaging about access control or security policies, but very often the security applied is far too restrictive and as a result leads to point four below.
- Keep users in house: We already know from research that if you demand that your users jump through too many hoops to access your on-premise resources remotely, they will default to their own web-based platforms simply because they are easier to use. Using a cloud platform for business that offers the required level of security and accessibility means you can keep your users on the reservation, which is vital for corporate governance.
- Support mobile platforms & BYOD: There are limited ways your on-premise infrastructure can support users on the hoof i.e. those who have a few minutes to kill and might have a smartphone or tablet to hand. Of course email is accessibly on most devices, but normally a maximum of 30 days - not hugely useful if your users want to refer back to older messages. Deploying a Cloud platform that also supports users mobile platforms will give them the ability to be more productive for longer. If you don't issue those devices but support a BYOD policy, then you really do need a platform that supports ubiquity of access like the Cloud.
- Keep corporate governance going: As I mentioned in point four, your users may be jumping out to other webmail services just to get their job done. For any IT Managers this will mean a governance nightmare, as the corporate perimeter no longer applies. Email in particular is susceptible to this problem, but using a cloud-based email management solution that is easy to access from anywhere, on any platform will mean your users are still under your control and your policies and governance will still be applied. Centrally.
- Deliver reliable and available services to users: As I mentioned in my last post, the Games are going to test your infrastructure to its limits. Most IT admins I know aren't looking forward to finding out where that limit is, and wished they had thought about this sooner. Most reputable Cloud vendors will give you 100% availability, wouldn't it be more comforting if that were an SLA you could pass onto your own business?
- Re-deploy your IT team more meaningfully: I doubt your highly trained IT team want to be waiting by the phone this summer. Some companies I know are letting all their staff work from home except their IT team in case something does go wrong; but wouldn't it be more productive to let them work on those projects they've been putting off for years because of the constant firefighting. All of the points above indicate how your IT team are working to keep systems up and running, but also how the Cloud can take the weight of on-premise applications and augment them, freeing up the time of your IT team.
- Future-proof your environment: This will be the core topic of an upcoming blog post, but in short I'd suggest that changes you make to your environment now in preparation for the Games (if you're not too late) will be like your own Olympic Stadium; you'll enjoy the immediate benefit of the Cloud now, as well as finding a way of on-ramping the Cloud into your network for the future.
- Be prepared!: Need I say more? We used to talk about the cloud as an SME tool, but today enterprise class businesses are using the cloud to augment their creaky on-premise services, the writing is on the wall I think.