Cloud-Minded. Business Grounded.

The forecast calls for 80 percent of IT to be in the cloud by 2020.

The cloud is going mainstream and delivering on its promises. Companies moving workloads are seeing the cloud as a catalyst for business growth. These companies are innovating freely, reaching out to new markets, and disrupting the status quo.

But with cloud technologies being developed at staggering rates, it’s hard to predict which direction they’re moving. More important for you is planning a cloud strategy that goes along with your business forecast.

In today’s dynamic digital economy, winning depends on technology-enabled value. The central focus of that value is what drives a company’s ability to innovate, and cloud services are key contributors to success. The modern cloud must support and energize business, help a company experiment and adapt fluidly to market changes, and ultimately deliver on its full potential for new revenue streams.

It’s comforting to know that the cloud, as part of our digital transformation, is becoming the norm for most businesses. In fact, at Zones we’ve taken the lead in quite a few industry sectors – healthcare, local government, and manufacturing and distribution – all of which are being redefined by the cloud.

Clear skies ahead.

To realize the true potential of the cloud, more and more companies are putting digital capabilities at the center of their day-to-day business activities. One of the most frequently asked questions from Zones customers is “what can be done about efficiency and productivity?” The answer is simple. The key to success is leveraging cloud solutions to collaborate and communicate in real time with team members, customers, and suppliers. With the release of Microsoft’s latest Office 365 solution, the future of collaboration and communication is already happening today.

Without access to files and documents from anywhere and from any device, daily activities can come to a halt. Built into Office 365 is the ability to store documents and files in Microsoft’s Cloud. Got a call from your fellow sales executive late on a Friday night about a last-minute presentation? No worries. You can access your colleague’s ideas on a shared file through SharePoint.

New business climate.

Earlier, we mentioned that the cloud can help drive company innovation and that requires collaboration. Today, SharePoint takes collaboration to a new level. Teams and groups can now create their own sites where they can share documents and information on any device. We like to think of the new SharePoint as a sort of shared flash drive. Microsoft has some exciting ideas about where they want to take SharePoint, with a broader approach to workflow and an open third-party tool selection to add features and functionality from an open developer community.

As part of Office 365’s new suite of integrated communications and collaboration solutions, users can integrate their calendar, contacts, and instant messaging. Video capable conversations are as simple as point and click when using Skype for Business, and all the user’s contacts are integrated and accessible within the solution. Microsoft has also added Cloud PBX integration into the mix by bringing video conferencing to the business phone, making it an all-in-one offering. These examples demonstrate how the cloud can bring technology-enabled value to your business, increasing your ability to compete successfully.

Of course, built into all the communication and collaboration functionality is the backend power of the traditional solutions of email, Word, Excel, OneNote, Publisher, and PowerPoint. These powerful tools provide the same great productivity features companies have been relying on, with the addition of the new capabilities in Office 365 enabled by the cloud.

Security haze clears.

What was once a major barrier to cloud adoption, is now a benefit. When asked, 50 percent of survey respondents said that the comprehensive suite of security offered by cloud vendors is indeed a benefit. Data sovereignty, data privacy, and control issues are the very things now drawing companies into the cloud, due to the extensive built-in capabilities of these solutions. Hardware manufacturers and software publishers are making concerted efforts to build and maintain strong safeguards, whether they are cloud products, services or enabling technologies.

Case in point, built around the entire suite of Office 365 is a set of security measures, designed to help protect email, documents, and entire networks. New security techniques can scan messages, documents, and files for spam and malware, 24/7. Adding to these advanced security measures has helped create one of the most secure cloud environments, meeting the most stringent government and private compliance standards to date.

It’s also standard for cloud providers to integrate security into their solutions, including geo-redundant, enterprise-grade reliability and disaster recovery with multiple data centers storing information, and Microsoft solutions are no exception. They are built from the ground up for reliability, availability, and performance. Company data is then automatically replicated, which allows Microsoft to guarantee 99.9 percent uptime for companies using their cloud data centers.

Your forecast. Calm and clear.

At Zones, we predict your company can be cloud minded and business grounded in no time. With just one visit, we can show you how cloud solutions can drive growth, foster innovation, and expand your overall presence. It’s all done through our portfolio of Cloud Assessments and Cloud Solutions that cover everything from strategy and migration to backup services and more.

So, let’s talk cloud today. Together, we’ll look at your cloud forecast. How cloudy is your forecast? Is it calling for public, private, or hybrid? IaaS or PaaS? OpEx vs.CapEx? Rain or shine, we can help.

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This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of Solutions by Zones magazine. View online