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Survey: Big Business Still Learning About Cloud

Friday, May 8, 2015 - 15:15
Business Learning Cloud

Survey Finds Misperceptions about Security, Costs Slowing Adoption

While it seems “The Cloud” has been a long-term trend in IT, there remain many myths about how it works and what advantages it holds. The fact is that many businesses still remain hesitant to implement fully-hosted solutions within their organization, specifically for functions like unified communications (UCaaS).

West Unified Communications Services surveyed over 300 IT managers to get their thoughts on the cloud and how it has or can change the way IT departments deliver telecommunications services to their companies. A clear majority believed quality of service would not suffer due to the transition. In fact, nearly 75 percent confirmed that when moving telecommunications to the cloud, quality of service would either stay the same or even improve.

But despite this widespread acceptance, many companies still host too many complex systems on-premises. This is especially true for unified communications tools that could easily be hosted in the cloud, creating both infrastructure management and cost benefits. Of the IT managers surveyed, about 40 percent said their organization has plans to move voice/telephony communications to the cloud.

The reason this number is not higher may be that while IT managers realize the benefits of the cloud, they fear a security breach could come back to haunt them.

Security Continues To Be Concern

The cloud is often thought of as less secure than on-premises options. More than half of respondents (55 percent) said they don’t believe communication services providers offer sufficient security checks alongside their cloud telecommunications offerings.

Perhaps because of these security concerns, IT managers agreed that if they were to move telecommunications usage to the cloud, they would prefer a private, or at least a hybrid model. In fact, 55 percent said they would implement a private cloud solution, where company data is siloed using either physical or logical server separation, while another 32 percent believed a hybrid approach, which mixes private, public and on-premises solutions, would be the right route.

The truth, however, is that cloud solutions, specifically those sold by telecom providers, are typically much more secure than on-premises options. While some IT managers still prefer to have their communication programs and data on-premises, that hardly eliminates the risk of a breach. In fact, because employees have access to the on-premises infrastructure and IT staffs are often overworked, on-prem solutions can be exposed to even more risk. Telecom providers know their reputation is based on ensuring security and therefore have invested heavily in the right people and technology.

What About Cost? What’s the ROI of Moving to the Cloud?

Another major concern when making any changes to IT infrastructure is, of course, cost. Surveyed IT managers appeared split on just how much a shift to the cloud would affect the company’s bottom line. Fifty-four (54) percent expect to recoup the entire price tag in savings while 46 disagreed, saying the ROI was not there just yet.

Of those who did see an ROI, 74 percent expected to realize a savings through reduced costs of doing business, which includes both maintenance costs and the necessary size of the IT staff. Timing-wise, just over 41 percent of those respondents expected to recoup the initial cost in about 5 years. Others were even more optimistic as 31 percent said it would take two years and 21 percent believing just one year.

Interestingly, those with bigger IT budgets were more confident they would recoup their costs. Sixty-six (66) percent of mangers with company IT budgets over $5 million were confident the savings would cover the operating costs. Especially for large companies, those savings often come from reduced support and maintenance expenses.

Finally, respondents were also split on where the biggest cost reductions would come from. When asked to rank the top reasons their company would benefit from a cloud-hosted communications program, IT managers listed the reduced capital expenditures as number one and reduced operational expenditures as number two. This exemplifies the fact that while the end goal is always to save money, different organizations may employ the cloud in different ways based on their specific situations.

The overall fact of the cloud is that the reduced investment in IT hardware means fewer assets on the balance sheet and more operating expenses. In general, the cost difference of a hosted versus on-premises solution is roughly 10 percent. Much of the same network and telecom equipment is needed but the cloud offers a safer, more flexible and more easily maintained solution. These are just a few of the factors, along with a frank accounting of cloud telephony services’ benefits, that IT managers should consider.

Overall, while hosting systems in the cloud has grown in popularity over the past few years, more IT mangers should talk to their service providers to discuss important factors like cost and security. The fact is that pushing essential unified communications tools to the cloud can provide companies with a cost-effective, secure method of improving efficiencies within the IT department and the broader organization.

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