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The Silver Lining

Editorial

Discussing the wide-ranging benefits of cloud computing, Ralf Moller, General Manager Marketing at logistics software provider WiseTech Global states that many companies mistakenly look only for cost savings when considering the cloud. However, in reality, the benefits of cloud computing go beyond simply cost. 

For instance, Amazon.com became a computing services provider in 2006 opening up data centres all over the world. The online retailer’s little side arm is now worth $1.5 billion.

To understand why this business has been so successful, it’s important to understand what Cloud Computing offers, and how it fits into business.

A Cloud is a large, complete, highly-redundant suite of computing resources provided in a highly-reliable form across multiple data centres. A Cloud provides 24x7 service, low-cost, guaranteed service levels, failover and disaster recovery. 

Although it was initially met with scepticism, Cloud Computing has proven to be many times more reliable than its predecessors, and less expensive than internally-run computer systems - especially for small and medium businesses, which can run anywhere from five to five thousand users.

Apart from the obvious advantages of affordability, reliability and flexibility, Cloud Computing also offers equally valuable benefits such as Cloud-based software that can transform the entire software selection and deployment process. 

Most companies will only replace their enterprise applications once every ten or 15 years and typically only after their current systems are on their last legs. The cost of purchasing and implementing traditional software solutions is significant. Even a small transport company can spend anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 on a new software system before there’ve even logged in, let alone tested it. 

However, these investments happen without the assurance that the software system will indeed work for the business. The moment of truth for the business whether they have purchased the right system or not is when the software goes live and nothing can be done. 

The primary attraction of the Cloud is the ability to trial software before committing to it. For instance, one could trial Cloud software on a monthly basis for a low cost, and then deploy it at a minimal cost compared to traditional software systems, because there is no need to buy and deploy new servers, or find staff to run them. 

Cloud software, by its very nature, needs to offer a more intuitive user experience, and in most cases it’s designed so that users can get up and running as soon as they have received their login details. Vendors of Cloud software put a lot of energy into the user experience so that the software is both intuitive, and supported by online help, 24x7 support and other tools that enable customers to get what they need quickly and online at a fraction of the cost. 

Moreover, Cloud software providers aren’t hampered by the typical tender process in which suppliers are forced to cut their prices to the bone, and customers are inevitably left unhappy with the service made necessary by unprofitable contracts. The selection process for Cloud Computing is similar to transport companies operating a few routes for a new customer, and fine-tuning their service and price before committing, or walking away. 

The emergence of Cloud Computing is also forcing software vendors to constantly improve the quality of their products, or risk being left behind by a new player. 

The Cloud not only saves money and IT resources, it also enables companies to select and deploy new software solutions with much less risk, providing the freedom to deploy advanced software that significantly improves their productivity and competitiveness - that’s the silver lining in every Cloud. 

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