The Cloud and Your Company: Governing a New Way Forward

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CIO’s are increasingly looking toward cloud hosted solutions to solve their most pressing problems in 2011. As we all know, there is the potential for significant cost savings to an organization in “moving to the cloud”.  The most common ways are through reduced infrastructure, operations, and maintenance costs which are outsourced to a trusted third party.  Moreover, many companies are combining hosted (cloud) solutions with SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) offerings.  This can provide additional savings in subscription- based software solutions. The ability to deploy solutions on premise can assist CIOs in selecting the best option for their organizations.

 Governance:  What You Need To Know

 However, decisions to “move to the cloud” can be challenging since they introduce even more options in terms of infrastructure and planning. Careful consideration of risk, security and data and information architecture concerns in on premise, hosted, or hybrid solutions requires an investment in the other 2011 buzzword: governance.

 Governance plans are dynamic, living documents which take into account your company’s current and future needs.  Additionally, they help craft  a balanced infrastructure that allows for change management as your company expands in the near term.

 Cloud: Weighing the Pros and Cons

 From a cost perspective, the cloud is attractive because people tend to disregard costs for disaster planning and additional security measures your company may add on.  Additionally, when investing in cloud, you must select an experienced vendor and be sure to, “trust, but verify.”  Effective governance and planning will ensure your company can continue to function even if the third-party provider experiences a glitch or other disruption.  Similar to the traditional model, cloud infrastructures require the same security and risk management that on premise infrastructures do, but there are slight differences.

 However, a decision to “move to the cloud” can be challenging for a company.  It introduces even more options in terms of infrastructure and planning. Common concerns are risk, security data, and information architecture, and these should be addressed before moving forward as an organization.

 Buzzword: Collaboration

 Being able to easily collaborate online is of critical importance in virtual workplaces.  It’s necessary if you are to accommodate remote and geographically dispersed teams in addition to vendors and external partners. Recently, Intranets and extranets have transitioned to the cloud to increase accessibility for external users who need to access organizational data through the use of SaaS tools available on a monthly subscription basis. Yet, utilizing SaaS tools can come with a price:  there are generally lower monthly per user costs of SaaS tools, but there is limited customization or configuration available.

 Companies that have already deployed Microsoft SharePoint or Microsoft Dynamics CRM have the option of utilizing cost effective Software-plus-Services versions of these platforms. The platforms come with the advantage of being well known applications and interfaces. 

 Microsoft provides rigorous infrastructure and planning  tools to assess the best infrastructure and governance plans for your organization. Tightly integrated with Exchange, Outlook, and Lync, Microsoft SharePoint’s availability in the new Office 365 is an attractive option for both small businesses and enterprise customers at all price points.   Get more information on the recent Office 365 public Beta and how your organization can take advantage of it.

 Contact Steve Kane at 301-634-2404 or to find out how BroadPoint Technologies, the mid-Atlantic’s largest Dynamics GP partner, can help you develop a SharePoint governance plan and take advantage of the cloud at your organization.

By BroadPoint Technologies, A Virginia Microsoft Dynamics Partner

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