Many of my customers are looking at how to make the most of the newly created cloud services. Of course, how to achieve this varies from business to business but to generalise there are some activities you can embark on which will help you make the most of the cloud opportunities available.

  1.  Build your Private Cloud

Build your own secure environment (cloud) comprising of a data and application storage environment. Monitored and maintained 24/7 with High Availability and full backup. With ICT skill so hard to find you don’t want to have your valuable resources tied up all day with administrative tasks like updates and backup.

Buying a managed service can help you to ease the skills gap, reduce CapEx and lower management overheads. A secure access network with UK (and Global) capabilities with the versatility to allow a connection from any bearer (Ethernet, Broadband or wireless technologies) and any device can help you to offer access to your workers wherever they are.

  1.  Put your applications in the core of the network

Select a set of applications sited in the core of this network which are flexible and versatile, for example an IP PBX to manage voice communications (single number, call distribution, voicemail, voice to email etc).

This doesn’t have to involve huge capital expenditure; IP Centrex systems can be delivered on a per user per month basis with a minimum of integration. By connecting a versatile collaboration application like Outlook to a network based PBX will allow users to get full functionality wherever they are.

  1.  Assess the working practices of your workforce

Electronic devices like PCs, laptops and phones are expensive to buy and support. Business should look at the activities and locations of their workers to see where savings can be made. I.e. soft phones on laptops can support VoIP and IM for mobile and remote workers can significantly reduce mobile bills. It is important to select hardware to suit the working practices of your workforce.

Look at whether they are desk based, do they need a phone or will a soft phone and a headset do? If they are mobile do they need a permanent desk or can they use a laptop and a mobile phone with WiFi. All smart phones can offer versatile access and a range of applications whether you choose Blackberry, Windows or Apple.

In the current climate it is also important to stay agile so a secure multi tenanted, pay per user per month service with meaningful SLAs and guaranteed quality of service should be at the top of your requirements lists.

Finally it is a good time to go refresh your connectivity 21CN products like ADSL 2+ and Ethernet First Mile, whether you need to connect single or multi site MPLS, can make high bandwidth available for much less than the legacy 20CN products.