Oxford dictionary describes the term technology as, “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.” The term is a derivative from a Greek one, tekhnologia, which means systematic treatment. Thus, the term has an inherent complexity to it
Yet, the odd thing is that, any technology that seeks to gain credence and market share needs to piggyback on simplicity. Organisations and people are not attuned to complex things. They love technology when it is simple and easy to use. Take the case of email: It had existed for a long-time in the academic circles, till Hotmail came around and made it universal by making it extremely simple for people to use. Similarly, iPod was not the first MP3 player in the market, but it was the least complicated to use. Simplicity is a necessary ingredient for any technology to go mainstream.
The case is not much different for cloud computing as well. The reason it has become pervasive and ubiquitous over the years is because it has been ‘simplified’. Till a few years back, there used to be complex acronyms like SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), CaaS (Communications as a Service), that attempted to encapsulate the concept of virtual hosting and sharing of data. It is only when software giants like Microsoft simplified cloud computing to a stage when it could be easily deployed and managed that it gained credence and market share. And today, we have reached a stage where Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft, boldly lays out the future as, “Cloud First, Mobile First”.
Beyond simplification, there are distinct reasons why cloud computing has been adopted by companies big and small across the board. While there are different reasons for each organisation, the benefits of cloud computing can be basically summed under four distinct head, as follows:
I: Cost savings
There is no better term than “money savings” to gain the attention of a CXO in an enterprise. Little wonder, that the term RoI (return on investments) is a clear favorite of the CEO, CFO and even the CIO. Cloud scores high on the RoI. The great thing about cloud computing savings is that they are both Opex and Capex. According to estimates presented by CDP in a report, organisations can save up to 40-50% expenditure simply by going on the cloud.
When Ashok Leyland, one of India biggest automobile companies wanted to optimize and enhance its disparate IT infrastructure, it turned to cloud. Transitioning to a virtual environment, the company was able to drastically bring down the number of servers, thereby bringing down power and management costs. Venkatesh Natarajan, Special Director – IT, Ashok Leyland says, “The need for fewer physical servers will help us save $ 1.26 million a year in power and cooling costs and $ 0.8 million in annual maintenance costs (AMC). From a business perspective there will also be a huge reduction in licensing costs, close to $ 0.74 million a year.” Thus, by going on the cloud the company was not only able to simplify its infrastructure but also save money.
II: Augmented productivity
One of the prime reasons for the spread of cloud computing is because of the way it boosts productivity. As it allows access and collaboration over multiple devices, information stored on the cloud can be viewed, edited, downloaded on any device from any location. Enterprises can leverage this neutrality of device to empower their employees and boost sales.
For instance when KPIT Cummins, an IT and product engineering company with operations spread across 8 offices in India and 17 internationally, wanted to bring its 8000 plus workforce on a cost-effective platform , it evaluated a host of solutions. Finally, with the release of Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 Enterprise, it deployed the solutions. The idea was to build an environment that would deliver more IT management efficiencies, at lower costs and enhance system availability. Through the use of innovative systems, KPIT was able to even introduce highly virtualized environments that allowed employees to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This was a major fillip to its workforce as it was no longer tied down to a device. Manas Marulkar, Head-IT Infrastructure, Systems and Chief Information Security Officer, KPIT Cummins, shared the secret. “As both the server and the client are BYOD-ready, Windows Server has a number of features to control access that will make BYOD a reality. And Windows 8 allows seamless access on a wide variety of form factors such as tablets, mobile phones, laptops and PCs without additional development effort.”
III: Business agility
Flexibility and scalability are the two calling cards of cloud computing. With things like dynamic and instant requisitioning, an enterprise on the cloud does not need to worry about things like bandwidth or throughput. Neither does it have to make provisions for unique events as it can easily manage them, as and when they occur. There is also another side effect of flexibility, and that is reduced costs. Thanks to cloud, an enterprise now needs to only utilise and pay for as many resources that it uses. Since provisioning is dynamic, so is the the cost. Basically, the principle is, to pay as you grow.
In addition to scalability, enterprises can also breathe easy on the technology front, as they don’t have to bother about things like bandwidth and through put anymore. As the data stored on the cloud, there is no challenge in terms of access on different devices. Adding devices that can access data is also a very simple task, thereby increasing the productivity by very many notches.
Take the instance of Getit Infomedia, a digital supermarket that provides a marketplace to over 6 million SMEs through print, online and mobile services. The company was seeing exponential growth over the past few years and needed infrastructure to support rapid expansion without added costs. Also, the solution had to be dynamic and scalable. It is then that the firm decided to go in for Windows Azure-based cloud infrastructure. With that, Getit Infomedia was able to migrate 25 workloads from on-premise deployments to the cloud. This enabled consolidation and ease of use, with the company reducing costs by as much as 30% across the board. Rahul Chitale, CTO, Getit Infomedia states it upfront, “As part of the evaluation process, three things were important for us. One, we were looking at doing things on an internet scale, which means expanding rapidly with minimal time. Two, we wanted to reduce our services costs, which ruled most local hosts. And three, we wanted to engage with third-party developers in the SME space. Windows Azure had very clear differentiators which led us to choose it over others.”
IV: Go intelligent
Business analytics and intelligence (BA/I) are tools that let enterprises mine raw data and glean interesting trends and insights. Typically, these systems allow an enterprise to gather, store, access and analyze data to aid in decision-making. Cloud computing fits naturally with BI. By enabling big data analytics on the go, enterprises can do real-time analysis. This can help companies gain market share by letting it customize its solutions and services based on the market trends and customer needs.
Take the case of Bajaj Finance, one of India’s leading financial companies, that offers a bouquet of loans to individuals and SMEs. A few years back the company was looking at integrating business intelligence within their systems, along with a digital channel for information sharing with customers and partners. In addition, there was also the need to enhance collaboration among the teams by use of communication and messaging tools. After detailed evaluation, the company settled for data warehousing and portal solutions from Microsoft. By doing so, they were able to standardise the disparate systems and drive productivity through collaboration. Rakesh Bhatt, Chief Operations & Technology Officer, Bajaj Finance, talks about the same, when he states “Using Microsoft solutions we have successfully delivered business productivity by standardizing the data warehouse, portal, messaging and unified communications architecture of our company.”
In the end, as is evident from the above instances, cloud computing is a boon that is helping modern-day businesses thrive like never before. Little wonder, it hardly matters if it is an MNC or a SME, both can use the power of technology to cut costs, and increase productivity.