by February 4, 2011 0 comments



Until recently, most IT managers used to have jitters on moving their business applications like CRM onto the cloud mostly because of the security concerns for their information. Therefore they took pride in having all their business applications, email architecture, storage setup, etc within their company’s firewall. But in recent past the economic slowdown and the onset of cloud service providers has been an awakening that organizations can reduce their infrastructures’ complexities by opting to host their applications on the cloud.

Today’s business applications are growing in number and complexity, and are also demanding on the IT setup requirements. An organization which is hosting their business applications on-premise will have to first invest on the infrastructure to run that, and then would have to have appropriate manpower having expertise in supporting those applications as well as the IT infrastructure. On the contrary, the same service can be obtained from a cloud service provider with no such hassles. The benefits of opting for a service model to on-premise setup are already known. And the cloud service vendors today have established their setup so well for reliability and security which one cannot replicate in their on-premise infrastructure without having to dig deep into their pockets.

Here are few business critical applications that an organization could move onto the cloud and save upon from the complexities that are involved in running them in their IT infrastructure.

Email

Email is the communication backbone for any organization today, and that is what makes many organizations to setup their own mail servers within their firewalls. Think about the cost involved in the hardware, mail server setup and licensing, not to forget the manpower required to keep this going. Once that is done you have to consider the security of the mail servers from exploits and spam messages. All these hassles are taken care of by the hosted service provider if you opt for email hosting service.

Even if you have an existing email setup, you can migrate to the cloud of service provider of your choice. Today most hosted email service provider offer email migration as part of the package. Additional services like email archiving can also be subscribed for.

Microsoft Exchange, which is the most predominant mail Exchange server used by organizations is also being offered on cloud as Exchange Online. Google Apps is not just mail solution but a suite of business tools like calendar, collaboration apps and online storage. So, opting for a service like Google Apps, which costs about USD50 per user per year, and comparing that to having the whole email setup on-premise is significant when you also consider the savings from manpower reduction and the quality of service being maintained and offered.



CRM

CRM is touted as the eye-opener for organizations that critical business applications could also be hosted on the cloud. Salesforce.com is the prime example of that. For any company, their customers’ information is the coveted jewel, and they cannot think to part that off to someone else to look after that. But like email, CRM also poses the same setup and configurations complexities that require expertise if you want to host it on-premise.

As CRM solutions have become more standardized for specific industry verticals, their cloud offerings are also standardized and are easy to setup and customize also. Also CRM is not a bandwidth intensive application; therefore there is no technical benefit of keeping it within the firewall. For a cloud based CRM solution, you just need a browser to access that, and your sales team which is mostly mobile can have access to their CRM accounts through their smartphones as well while on the move.

So opting for a cloud based CRM solution like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, Sage CRM or any other hosted solution, you’ll be freeing yourself from the known hassles of the licensing and maintenance, while shifting the huge investments on hardware and solution towards more manageable operational expense on subscription model.

Conferencing setup

You have distributed offices across regions, and when you want to have weekly or at monthly briefing with your team across regions; conference call is a viable solution, and could also be taken up further to a video conference call. Setting up such solution is not easy and requires constant upkeep to keep the setup running; else a downtime could bring urgent meetings to abrupt end.

Solutions like Sabse Bolo and GoToMeeting give option to organizations to offload call conferencing and video conferencing from their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

On a tight budget you’ll like to invest more towards strengthening organization’s IT setup than on conferencing setup which could easily be offloaded on a monthly or yearly subscription fee. Sabse Bolo offers free conferencing service as a local number for upto 10 users, whereas if you want recording of the conference or conference management options then their plans start from Rs.700/month.

It has local access numbers across 6 major cities in India. Likewise, for online meetings, you can consider GoToMeeting which starts at USD 49 per month.

There are other solutions like Microsoft Live Meeting, Skype, WebEx etc. that can offer you video conferencing and collaboration solution on the cloud, rather than to have an on-premise setup for conferencing.

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