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Moving to the cloud is not a question of why, but a question of when.

It’s been 18 years since the first cloud computing implementation was introduced on the market. Salesforce.com in 1999 brought-in tools to develop applications via web. In 2006, Amazon Web Compute (now called Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud or EC2) was launched providing cloud-based services which consist of storage, applications and even human intelligence. From then on, various cloud implementations have been developed and striven to get a significant chunk of the market. More recently, information and technology institutions such as Microsoft introduced their own cloud suite, in which one of the many is Office 365. Launched in mid-2011 Office 365 is a business productivity bundle consisting of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, Office Web Apps and Office Professional Plus.

Exactly how big is cloud computing now?

The cloud went beyond being a new technology that is high in risk, learning curve and total cost of ownership; to a sound technology platform. In fact, Amazon as the current leader in providing cloud services owns 100,000 servers and provides more than 1.7 million IP addresses since first quarter of 2012. This numbers are followed by its closest competitor Rackspace which boasts 80,000 servers across its data centers.

The question now that business should be asking shouldn’t be whether is it right to go to the cloud; rather it should be a case of when to adopt the cloud. Many companies are still wary that the cloud may not suit their particular type of business; in effect delaying the decision or even worse not considering it at all.

When will I know if it’s time for my business to move to the cloud? True, there are a lot of factors to consider before moving to the cloud but here are a few signs that your business should really start going there now.

First, move to the cloud if your core business is not IT and you maintain more than three servers on-premises. The total cost of ownership (TCO) of having an on-premises implementation does not stop when you purchase your hardware and set up your network. It requires licenses renewal, server health maintenance, backups, anti-virus and security add-ons, support and over time, memory & storage expansion. If your business is in the financial or health sector, you must also invest heavily on various compliance measures which can go high as millions of dollars if done on-premises. The cloud can easily solve this with products like Microsoft Office 365 and Windows Azure.

Second, move to the cloud if you want to focus your budget on your core products and services rather than on IT. For the education sector for example, it doesn’t make sense to maintain several servers on-site, develop your own e-learning portal and have a full-fledged IT department to maintain it. Businesses in education and training want to expand their course offerings, invest heavily on human capital and build more classrooms and satellite centers. In moving to the cloud, businesses can literally operate without owning a piece of expensive IT equipment – all they need is Internet for access and a network printer! All the requirements for a server-less business can be provided by cloud solutions.

Third, move to the cloud if your technology can no longer keep-up with your business requirements. Businesses should be fast to adapt to new trends, flexible and put customer satisfaction at the top of their priorities. Imagine if your Customer Care Manager is working off-site and fails to respond to a critical issue regarding fraud from an enterprise account. The issue which could have been contained in a matter of minutes will most likely be escalated and come to the attention of upper management. However, if your Customer Care Manager can check their mail from a smartphone, check the CRM system through the web and communicate with their team via video and voice conferencing, the problem could have been address, rectified and put to bed.

Cloud computing has already increased productivity of thousands of businesses and even lower costs of investment. If you’re still looking at the cloud and evaluating it – your competitors are already there.

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Loryan Strant

Loryan Strant

Loryan Strant is a 16 year veteran of web and network technologies. His company <a href="http://www.paradyne.com.au/">Paradyne</a> focuses on helping organisations of all types and sizes get into the cloud and Office 365. Loryan regularly blogs and writes articles about the cloud and has recently published a book on <a>Office 365</a>. He's passionate about enabling people and organisations using technology the right way, enabling them to become more productive. Loryan is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional), an award created by Microsoft to recognize the best and brightest from technological communities around the world. You can follow Loryan’s <a href="http://www.thecloudmouth.com/">blog</a> as well as follow him on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/TheCloudMouth">@TheCloudMouth</a>.

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