This year, many businesses are moving to the cloud to reduce their IT expenses and amp up their computing resources. Even the U.S. government, which issued its Federal Cloud Computing Strategy in February, is looking to the cloud. Estimates predict that by using a cloud computing model for IT service delivery, federal data center infrastructure costs can be reduced by 30 percent.1

With so many organizations and institutions benefiting from the transition to the cloud, it’s a good idea to ask yourself: can my business benefit from the cloud too?

The Cloud

This new model for delivering IT services provides you with convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable resources, such as networks, servers, storage, and more.
In a nut shell, a cloud infrastructure consists of services and applications delivered through common data centers that support multiple users.

Though perception is often that “The Cloud” is just another term for the Internet, in reality, it can refer to several different service-provisioning models.

For example, it can mean connecting via the public Internet to Google’s data center all the way across the country to access services like applications and storage.

However, another common example of a cloud infrastructure is when your company has branches in different locations that operate using the IT services of the home office’s data center.

Regardless of the particular infrastructure, a cloud model can enable you to efficiently re-provision your IT assets to a more flexible, cost-effective system.

What exactly does that mean?

  • Easy Access – Because you’re using a provider’s services that are not in your location, the way you monitor, maintain and make changes to your IT services is through an Internet log in. As long as you have an Internet connection, you’re able to check on or change your service wherever you are.
  • Easy Expansion – As a result of the shared resources you get with the cloud, you have the ability to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or purchasing new software. And, since you can turn your services on and off as needed, you don’t pay for resources you don’t use.
  • Smaller Physical Data Center – The amount of time your IT staff has to spend maintaining your aging infrastructure drastically decreases when you move your servers over to the cloud service provider’s data center.
  • Reduced Cost – By reducing your physical data center, your energy costs plummet. In addition, only paying for services you use prevents unnecessary costs.

Are there any other considerations?

While the cloud can provide significant benefit, there is a caveat: it does not reduce the size of your infrastructure as much as is possible, and, therefore, does not reduce costs as much as possible.
To truly maximize the potential of your data center, you need both virtualization and the cloud.
Virtualization

While the cloud can shrink your data center’s real estate by taking most of your hardware out of your office, virtualization takes this one step further: it condenses the size of your infrastructure even more by allowing two or more virtual machines to co-exist on one server.

For instance, instead of moving five servers to the cloud, you can virtualize those servers – thereby putting them all on one piece of hardware – and send that one server to the cloud. You not only pay for less cloud space when you do this, but you also take advantage of virtualization’s benefits, including:

Maximized IT resources: According to VMware, “about 70% of a typical IT budget in a non-virtualized data center goes towards just maintaining the existing infrastructure.” However, with virtualization, your physical data center is condensed and upgrades and voice management tasks are simpler, which enables your IT department to spend more time innovating rather than playing catch up.

  • Hardware consolidation: Cut hardware and operational costs by up to 50% by letting few pieces of hardware do the work of many.
  • Improved energy efficiency: Reduce energy costs and consumption by up to 80% without sacrificing functionality.
  • Increased savings: Save more than $3,000 per year for every server workload virtualized.

Yet, even with the cloud and virtualization, there’s a piece left over – your telephony hardware. That’s where virtualized voice comes in.

Virtualized Voice
When you move your infrastructure to the cloud, you want to move the whole thing. You don’t want to have to monitor two separate sets of systems: your telephony hardware in the office and your computing infrastructure in the cloud.

By virtualizing your voice system, your telephony hardware can be condensed right along with your computing infrastructure, further streamlining your communications network with simplified voice administration.

Though virtualized voice is the final piece of the cloud puzzle, it is as equally important as the other two – because, without it, you will never realize the full potential of your data center. It’s only together that the cloud, virtualization and virtualized voice deliver the most impactful results, minimizing costs, boosting productivity and providing flexibility like never before.

If you’d like to learn more about how ETA can help with these data decentralization strategies, simply contact us by clicking on the “Reach Out Today!” form. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

1. The Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, page 7