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28 | THE DATA CENTER JOURNAL servers are created and configured in a cloud. Data is then moved to them over a secure connection. Finally, the current production servers are shut down and the cloud servers are engaged for produc- tion work. Instead of a cloud serving as a backup environment for those applica- tions, more organizations are using the cloud as the primary environment. As applications automatically inherit the extraordinary scalability of cloud resource allocation, businesses have real- ized the many benefits it brings. Seasonal spikes owing to holiday sales, for instance, represent no particular challenge for cloud computing; it simply detects the spike and allocates more resources to compensate, returning those resources to a general pool when the spike ends. For common business functions like inventory lookups, such a responsive infrastructure can make a tremendous difference to the business bottom line. is approach also means the organization is spared any need to attend to hardware refreshes. Even when new ap- plication versions are deployed, and they have greater resource requirements, the organization need not take action; such issues are the responsibility of the cloud provider. Although not every application is cloud friendly, many of the most widely used ones are. ey include Microso Outlook email, Microso Exchange, Microso SharePoint, SQL database host- ing and applications dependent on those databases, and many customer-relation- ship-management (CRM) applications. As organizations see the benefits of these cloud-based applications versus their on-premises counterparts, we'll see more businesses moving logical resources to the cloud. 4. Creation of a ClouD-BaseD ProJeCt- ManageMent/ CollaBoration Portal e easier it is for team members to collaborate, the more productive they are likely to be. As workforces become increasingly distributed, organizations are deploying more-collaborative solutions like Microso Lync, Microso Exchange and Microso SharePoint as cloud ser- vices. Once in a cloud, they deliver all the same features and value, yet at lower costs and improved accessibility when com- pared with deployment in house. Microso Lync's collaborative ca- pabilities are particularly comprehensive. Beyond secure text messaging, Lync deliv- ers a range of voice and video functions accessible from any web-capable device. Its videoconferencing capability, based on the H.264 standard, can bring people together across any amount of physical space. Similarly, virtual whiteboarding is an effective tool to develop and explore new ideas, especially for organizations with a geographically distributed workforce. Such collaborative solutions are yielding new insights for a faster response to a rapidly changing market. Microso Exchange similarly creates exceptional value through its intrinsic collaborative capabilities (email, calendar- ing and contact management) as well as its integration potential with other solutions. For instance, Exchange can integrate with CRM solutions to create a faster, smoother path between external client needs and the internal collaboration that eventually fulfills them. roughout 2015, more collaborative services such as these have been managed in a centralized way using cloud comput- ing. is management happens via a uni- fied communications-management layer, also deployed in a cloud, that integrates all collaboration services and allows the organization to administer them from one interface. Because the cloud provider is responsible for this management layer, the organization is free to concentrate on the value it creates—not the costs and com- plexity of deploying and maintaining it. 5. using a ClouD-hosteD Digital PBx for offiCe anD MoBile voiCe serviCes roughout the year we've seen cloud services extend beyond conventional data services, and there is a growing trend in the use of cloud for voice services. Voice over IP (VoIP) has been widely deployed as a way to reduce operational costs by digitizing voice and delivering it via the cloud. In doing so, organizations bypass the more expensive conventional voice infrastructure. e more calls that take place in this way, the higher the savings. Digital voice, however, can actually deliver far more benefits than just cost re- ductions if implemented via a cloud-based digital PBX. is approach, which replaces a traditional PBX with a logical PBX run- ning in the cloud, allows the organization to dramatically accelerate and optimize almost every aspect of the way it uses voice services. For instance, rerouting calls to a new physical location becomes a simple matter of a soware change—extremely convenient for any company reorganiza- tion, relocation or expansion to a new site of operations. Also, call data can easily be aggregated and analyzed for trends or patterns that, once discovered, comprise actionable intelligence and suggest new strategies. Business resilience is also enhanced. For instance, following a local disaster in which traditional PBX-based voice services are rendered unavailable, a cloud- based voice infrastructure would continue to operate. So, instead of being unable to make business calls at all, team members need only obtain Internet access at a new location and log in through a web portal; business calls can then continue in a way that will be transparent to the outside world. suMMary In the past year, cloud computing has accelerated service delivery, reduced op- erational costs and thus empowered inno- vation of many kinds. As more organiza- tions take full advantage of cloud strengths to handle tasks ranging from data center backup to team collaboration, they will become more agile, more resilient and more competitive—all of which are critical to business success today. n about the author: Bob Lamendola is General Manager, Infrastructure Services, for mindSHIFT Technologies.

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