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by Roger von Oech

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How ‘as a Service’ allows you to get ahead.

The cloud has revolutionised the way businesses use IT and significantly reduced the cost.

One of the key advantages of the cloud is the ability to scale vertically or horizontally with next to zero notice, allowing for rapid growth – or to reduce resources when they’re not needed.

Traditionally to scale up, infrastructure needs to be provisioned, which can take a significant amount of time and resources.

The cloud gives organisations access to almost infinite capacity without having to provision more hardware, increase underlying storage capacity, or purchase more licenses... and the list goes on.

Another feature of the infinite scaling capacity of the cloud is the ability to use Software as a Service. Traditionally, if a medium-sized organisation wanted to implement a typical Exchange Server as an email solution, the capital outlay to cover hardware, storage, archiving, software, licenses, DR and continuity plans would be significant – typically over $50,000. The associated maintenance costs would also be significant too. For many organisations, that sort of outlay for an individual service just isn’t feasible.

There are now a multitude of ‘as a Service’ products in which software, such as Exchange, is licensed on a subscription basis and is cloud hosted. This lets organisations pay (and scale up or down) on a per-user-per-month basis. For example, with Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft has Exchange Online, a cloud version of Exchange on premises. Exchange Online requires zero capital outlay and has a simple per-user-per-month pricing model, without any lock-in contracts. You get access to an infinite number of accounts, enormous storage capacity for users, next to unlimited archival storage, and zero ongoing maintenance costs. Other notable benefits include:

  • Significantly reduced ongoing maintenance and overheads
  • Greatly reduced total cost of ownership
  • Increased ability to keep archives through economies of scale
  • Increased scalability, availability, reliability and redundancy
  • An ability to adopt a Cloud Strategy, where the organisation can utilise cloud to integrate with existing systems in complex global environments
  • Rapid deployment
  • Often a greater level of security than your organisation would otherwise be able to achieve.

Consider the overhead costs incurred in maintaining an on-premises Exchange cluster versus the simple per-user-per-month pricing of Exchange Online. The reduction in total cost of ownership is huge. But cost is only one benefit.

Another benefit is the flexibility and capability that can flow from utilising cloud products. These products enable far greater integration with existing systems in complex global environments – something we will discuss in a future blog article.

Another benefit relates to compliance. Not storing your own data can worry some people, which is understandable. However, security is always a priority with cloud and Microsoft believes that too.

Microsoft Office 365 complies with industry standard regulations:

  • PCI DSS Level 1
  • ISO 27001
  • SAS 70 / SSAE16 Assessments
  • EU Model Clauses
  • EU Safe Harbor
  • HIPAA-Business Associate Agreement
  • FISMA/FedRAMP Authority to Operate

Ultimately, the benefits of utilising the cloud are significant for small to medium-sized businesses unless constrained by compliance issues that require data to remain stored within certain boundaries.

For fast growing businesses, the benefits can be even greater.

by Alex Kilroy / January 11, 2016
 

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