From the Front Lines: How IT Is Taking Advantage of the Cloud Today

January 30, 2013 - 1 Comment

The cloud is here and here to stay. No one expects a wholesale move to the cloud overnight, but I’ve been hearing recently from numerous customers whose journeys are well underway, and some common themes are emerging as businesses explore various deployment models. Business agility, flexibility and balance sheet liquidity will drive cloud adoption, and, as the popularity of hybrid models increases, users will demand a seamless end-user experience between the cloud and on-premise systems.

A few weeks ago, I included these themes in my predictions about the future of cloud collaboration. This week I had the chance to speak with two Cisco customers about why issues such as flexibility, cost savings and user experience drove them to deploy cloud collaboration technologies and other cloud solutions. Sheila Jordan, senior vice president, communication and collaboration IT, co-hosted the discussion with me and offered her insights from an IT perspective. She also recapped the discussion, sharing some specific tips for how IT managers can best take advantage of the cloud.

John Jackson, vice president of global infrastructure and vendor management for D+M Group, said that he can relate easily to the prediction about business agility, flexibility and cost when thinking back to his company’s decision to move to the cloud. D+M Group employs people in several different operating divisions around the world and grew through a series of acquisitions, leaving the company to globalize shared-services IT team that did not previously exist.

In our discussion, John said that without prior investments in huge systems, he was challenged to consider how he could bring the company to scale as quickly as possible without a huge capital expenditure. As a result, he has moved everything traditionally done from an infrastructure perspective to the cloud.

Now, each time the company makes an acquisition, they’re able to quickly and easily bring on new accounts and bridge systems via the cloud, vastly simplifying the process for IT. This allows his team to focus on different skill sets: enterprise architecture, project management and vendor management – while he looks to Cisco and other vendors to focus on the traditional IT functions.

User experience is also important to D+M Group. The company has deployed Hosted Collaboration Solution globally, with an estimated 200 users expected to join the current 400 users within the next three months. Though the company was not initially considering a WebEx deployment, complaints about end-user experience with other solutions prompted them to also deploy WebEx globally.

Bellverie Ross, senior program manager for the city of Charlotte in North Carolina, said that business agility and cost savings are critical when considering the city’s responsibility in serving 2 million residents with limited money and resources. The cloud has allowed faster time to market, an extension of the data center, and support when hiring in the IT department is not possible due to budget constraints.  According to Bellverie, one hosted cloud deployment took a mere 4 months from start to finish – which is quick considering the city hadn’t replaced some of the technology infrastructure in nearly 30 years. Closely guarding the experience from a citizen standpoint also remains a priority with new deployments, according to Bellverie.

The city of Charlotte, the first government to move all telephony systems to the cloud, deployed a Cisco cloud collaboration solution leading up to the Democratic National Convention in September 2012. Replacing an aging Avaya system ultimately led the city to look for a hosted solution. The city’s population swelled by 50,000 during the convention, and Cisco was selected to provide a cloud solution that could handle the expected influx of 3 million additional calls.

What do these use cases show about the cloud, and cloud collaboration in particular? The priorities for different types of businesses when considering a cloud deployment will run the gamut of data protection to bridging the communication gaps across a global organization. Cisco remains committed to providing these and all businesses the flexibility, cost savings and consistent user experience that will drive cloud adoption in 2013 and beyond.

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