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By 8 October 2012 | Categories: sponsored content

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As always, the IT world is not short of innovation, and consumers are the drivers of these developments. This according to Rudi Greyling, chief technology officer and innovation lead at Avanade SA, who believes that cloud computing and mobility are what will change the way individual businesses – and business itself – work.

Cloud computing has attracted tremendous volumes of hype and media commentary, and as a result, many companies are tired of cloud-speak. "But don't dismiss cloud. It's time to start using cloud technologies like Windows Azure and Office 365," Greyling says. "We find that once customers start using them, the penny drops and they finally realise what the cloud is all about."

And that is, Greyling explains, reducing the cost related to IT, not to mention management time and effort. "Our assets help our teams deliver solutions on the Office 365 platform more than 30% faster and at lower cost than customer-led implementations. It's all about making IT available as something to be consumed as and when needed," he says. "We have now begun to realise the age old dream of IT as a utility. We don't really concern ourselves with how the electricity was generated or the water purified, we just use them as needed; now cloud computing is making that approach possible for technology. It's a natural progression for businesses to move their IT onto one or other form of the cloud model."

Consumers are driving this bus

Mobility, on the other hand, is definitely being driven by consumers, who have discovered an apparently limitless appetite for mobile devices and, more significantly, applications to run on them. It's clear how the availability not only of applications but also corporate and other data from the cloud has turned the phone from a pure communications device into something much more. And then, in turn, sparked the development of devices to span the bridge between phone and notebook: the smartphone and, of course, the tablet.

"Consumers are basically demanding desktop functionality on their mobile devices, and companies are buying into this trend because the productivity enhancements are so tremendous." Greyling notes. Just one example: a sales person no longer needing to travel to the office to upload sales data can undertake more calls — and, in fact, is most likely to spend the 15 minutes it takes to do the upload outside of working hours when he or she returns home.

Common concerns

Greyling says that customers always raise two issues when considering both mobility and the cloud as business strategies: security and bandwidth.

When it comes to security, international cloud providers like Microsoft enforce much greater physical security at their data centres. These are literally high-lockdown, zero-touch environments. Similarly, all the mechanisms for connecting to the cloud securely are in place; encrypted links are just one example. Device security is an existing problem that is independent of these trends but, as Greyling points out, software solutions to this challenge are coming to the market now — delivered as cloud services, naturally.

Bandwidth is the sine qua non of both mobility and cloud and, according to Greyling, something everybody complains about. In the business context, he feels that companies are often not appreciating the benefits that using the cloud can bring when it comes to dedicated links. "However, having your communications with branches set up, using the cloud to connect means you can use a local internet connection rather than a much more expensive dedicated link," Greyling advises. "Just one of the ways in which the cloud — and mobility — can be used to deliver benefits like reduced costs and change the way the business runs. We've only just begun to appreciate the possibilities!"

For more information on how Avanade can help your company, visit www.avanade.co.za or phone 012-622-4400.

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