April 3 2017 CollaborationIT managers will need a variety of new skills in order to leverage cloud solutions for business. Businesses are moving to the cloud, with research firm Gartner predicting that by the end of 2017, there will be a $246.8 billion market for the public cloud alone. And while C-suite members need high-level knowledge of basic cloud services, IT managers are tasked with understanding cloud solutions for business at a deeper level. What skills do tech pros need to meet this new mandate? Embracing Employees According to a recent Forbes survey, more than half of companies are putting new apps and services in the cloud instead of on existing infrastructure. The result? It’s now possible for non-tech employees to easily deploy applications or resources without waiting for IT approval. In fact, 76 percent of respondents say DevOps (not IT) was responsible for their transition, despite the lack of DevOps departments in most organizations. Those surveyed pointed to DevOps as an operating philosophy with roots in agile development. What does this mean for the IT manager skill set? It’s no longer possible to tell employees how they should interact with cloud services, but instead empower them to easily and securely leverage the cloud. Forcing them down the narrow path of approved services often leads to the development of shadow IT. As noted by Network World, even NASA discovered 28 unsanctioned cloud services on its system during a recent audit. As a result, an IT manager must develop new ways to embrace employee expectations while minimizing overall risk. Managing Multi-Cloud IT professionals must become adept at both designing new cloud environments and determining the best cloud distribution for their organizations. According to CloudTech, high-demand skills for tech experts now include private and hybrid cloud design, private and hybrid infrastructure-as-a-service provisioning, and cloud systems management. Yet this is just the beginning. Companies have evolved past the one-cloud-only model to embrace the notion of specific clouds for specific workloads or projects. As a result, many companies are trending away from single public or private deployments to a multi-cloud mix that includes hybrid, private, and public distributions that change dynamically over time to meet corporate needs. Beyond rebranding themselves as cloud experts, IT managers must learn how to effectively balance cloud spending and cloud benefits while simultaneously communicating value to C-suite executives. Implementing Innovation Once cloud systems are up and running, IT managers must develop skills to make the best use of these new resources. Consider the IoT. The market for this always-connected, interlocking web of sensors, mobile devices, and monitoring tools promises big gains if companies are able to effectively collect, parse, and interpret big data. To meet this emerging challenge, IT professionals need the time and space to expand their knowledge and embrace the impact of IoT. Other innovations are also changing the way enterprises handle day-to-day operations. The rise of cloud-based VoIP, for example, can not only replace but significantly upgrade the performance of inter-office and intra-office communication systems and pave the way for unified communications deployments. While it makes sense to leverage the tools and technology of third-party experts for cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), IT managers remain the critical point of contact between cloud services and new solutions. The bottom line? Implementing the cloud is a challenge shared by employees, executives, and IT managers. Meanwhile, understanding cloud solutions for business falls under the purview of IT experts and demands a new focus on end users, multi-cloud management, and the ability to effectively implement innovative solutions. Are you ready to learn more about the power of the cloud? Talk to a Vonage Business consultant today! About Doug Bonderud Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies. Linkedin | Twitter March 28 2017 CloudWhat is cloud technology? It’s a seamless way of managing your data, without all the hardware. You’ve probably heard about the cloud. As noted by Small Business Trends, 93 percent of organizations are currently using cloud services, and 80 percent are following a cloud-first strategy. The solution offers huge potential to streamline SMB practices and drive ROI, but it also comes with huge hype that makes it hard to sort out what should be a simple question: What is cloud technology? For SMB owners with limited time and interest in becoming IT experts, it’s easy to take a pass on the specifics and avoid the cloud altogether. The problem? Staying competitive means embracing tech that takes your business to the next level. Here’s what you need to know about the cloud — without all the hype: The Cloud, Uncomplicated So, what is the cloud, exactly? US-CERT suggests thinking of it like email. Your basic email provider handles the sending, receiving, and storage of your messages offsite. You don’t need servers and IT professionals to manage your email account; you simply use the service. The cloud works the same way. You rent space in a public or private cloud and use it to run whatever applications and services you need. Public means you’re sharing the space with other virtual tenants but pay less overall; private offers your own space at a higher cost. Many SMBs leverage the cloud for accounting and payroll software, e-commerce portals, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems that let them record calls, implement voice recognition systems, and seamlessly connect with customers and employees around the world. What You Need to Know Let’s say you make the jump to the cloud. What do you need to know about using this technology? First up, it’s seamless. You log in and use applications as if they’re stored on local computers. The difference? Data is automatically saved and backed up in the cloud, meaning that if you experience a local server failure, your files and records aren’t gone forever. It’s also worth understanding cloud price structure. Typically, you’ll pay a monthly fee for specific services — in the case of cloud-based VoIP, this could be paperless faxing, call recording, and mobile integration — and you’ll often have the ability to access more resources on-demand. This feature comes with a commensurate uptick in price but lets you handle sudden traffic spikes to your website or accommodate new business growth. You also need to familiarize yourself with cloud features specific to your deployment, such as how you start and stop call recordings, how you play them back, and how you delete them when they’re no longer needed. Big Benefits Sure, some cloud benefits may be more hype than helpful for you, but opting for the cloud offers solid advantages for SMBs, including the following: Virtual Management: All servers are offsite, meaning there’s no need to install or configure complicated hardware. Seamless Upgrades: Software upgrades and performance updates are all handled automatically. Easy Support: Troubleshooting can be handled over the phone or via email, since all physical hardware is at the provider end. Lower Costs: In the case of cloud-based VoIP, for example, you don’t need to install or upgrade any phones or systems onsite, often making the cloud cheaper than in-house alternatives. What is cloud technology? For SMB owners, it’s a way to get more, pay less, and not worry about the technical complications of having new hardware onsite. You don’t need to become an expert to reap the benefits. Find a provider you trust, negotiate a solid SLA, and start leveraging the cloud to enhance the reach and ROI of your small business. Considering a move to the cloud? Contact Vonage Business today and get started! About Doug Bonderud Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies. Linkedin | Twitter March 14 2017 CollaborationIf you don’t understand the business language of the cloud, here is a cheat sheet. Tech jargon is a slippery slope. Use too much, and you confuse — or worse, bore — your audience. Use too little, and you can’t have an effective conversation about the digital workplace. The cloud still confuses many people, even those who use cloud services every day. Still, if you ask the average person to define it, you can practically see the cartoon question marks hovering above their heads. Throw in a few related terms and acronyms — such as SaaS, IaaS, SLA, and VoIP — and eyes start to glaze over. However, these terms are important parts of today’s business language. For teams to effectively and strategically use cloud technology, they must be able to communicate about it. This means everyone in the organization needs at least a basic understanding of cloud-oriented business language — including the decision-makers who adopt cloud-based solutions, the leaders who deploy and integrate them into workflows, and the end users who rely on them to work from anywhere. As more small and midsize businesses undergo a cloud migration for the first time, which terms do their teams need to know to professionally and confidently discuss their new tech tools? What Is the Cloud? We talk about “the cloud” as if it’s a place or thing, which leads to such questions as “Where is the cloud? What is the cloud? Is it over us right now?” Really, the cloud is just a metaphor for the internet. In simplest terms, it means storing and accessing data and software via the internet, rather than your hard drive or a local server. Cloud Migration No, it’s not a storm rolling in, nor is the internet heading south for the winter. Cloud migration simply means transitioning some or all of a company’s data, applications, processes, or services from onsite servers to the internet for on-demand usage. Cloud Storage You know that scary-looking room with all the interconnected computers only the IT team is allowed to enter? That’s a local server. And with the cloud, it’s unnecessary. Instead, business data gets saved on remote servers that can be accessed via any internet-connected device. There are three types of cloud storage: Public: A third-party server where users share resources and pay per use Private: A remote but privately owned server that is implemented within the corporate firewall and controlled by the IT department Hybrid: A combination of public and private cloud storage, where highly sensitive data is kept on a private cloud and the rest resides on a public cloud IaaS and SaaS Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) refers to self-service, pay-per-use storage space, networking equipment, and services. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) refers to third-party business applications that are accessible via the internet. This includes bookkeeping software, project management programs, word processors, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and any other business programs that teams use to share and utilize information. API An application programming interface (API) is a set of computer codes that help different software — or different components of the same software — play nice together. For instance, if you wanted to link customer information from your CRM platform and your accounting program, an API could help them “talk” to each other and share data. VoIP Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) refers to a phone connection that takes place via the internet, rather than a landline or cell tower. Cloud-based VoIP service is becoming particularly popular among businesses with remote workers or call centers, as it enables employees to use the business phone system from anywhere. SLA The term “service-level agreement” (SLA) is fairly self-explanatory. It’s a contract that spells out the level of service a vendor agrees to provide, including the quality and accessibility customers can expect. This important document also explains the vendor’s privacy protocols, which can be a critical consideration, especially for businesses that handle sensitive data. There you have it. The cloud really isn’t all that complicated — it just requires learning a new business language. Share this cheat sheet with your team to help them join the conversation. To learn more about VoIP and other cloud business services, speak to a Vonage Business consultant. Taylor Mallory Holland Taylor Mallory Holland is a professional writer with more than 11 years of experience writing about business, technology and health care for both media outlets and companies. Taylor understands how enterprise mobility and cloud technology can reshape industries and provide new opportunities to streamline workflows, improve employee collaboration and reimagine the customer experience. She is passionate about helping business leaders understand the impact that emerging technologies can have on communication, operations and sales and marketing. Linkedin | Twitter February 10 2017 CloudImplementing cloud technology can benefit company culture — and happy workers are more productive. Businesses can’t function without order. Processes and procedures exist for a reason: to ensure that projects get done on time, information is properly handled, and end results match initial goals. The problem? Sometimes “order” turns into “overbearing” and originally open-minded organizations become my-way-or-the-highway enterprises. If your company culture has gone from reliable to rigid and you’re looking for a way to boost morale without breaking the bank, there may be a solution: the cloud. From cost benefits to take the stress off executives to increased app flexibility for users and agility to improve collaboration, cloud services may offer a way to re-energize your office environment. Here’s how it can help crack your current culture conundrum: Positive Production Before diving into the people part of cloud potential, it’s worth a quick review: Implementing cloud technology comes with real benefits to both the bottom line and day-to-day operations. As noted by CBR Online, 88 percent of companies surveyed say they’ve already implemented at least one private cloud solution, while the expanding impact of open-source clouds is driving even lower per-use prices. According to BetaNews, meanwhile, many organizations are now adopting a multicloud strategy as a way to leverage the exact services they need, exactly when they need them rather than paying for all-in-one solutions. In addition, cloud services offer a new way for users to consume, create, and collaborate on line-of-business content. Instead of requiring users to navigate multiple legacy apps simply to communicate with other team members or access pertinent project data, the cloud makes it possible to unify voice, video, and multimedia services. What’s more, tossing legacy for cloud yields greater network agility and reliability, meaning employees spend more time working and less time harassing IT about legacy systems that aren’t working. Simply put? The cloud offers big-time productivity and cost benefits. Morale Booster That’s not all, folks! In addition to line-of-business benefits, cloud services also have the not-so-secondary effect of boosting user morale and improving company culture. Why? Glad you asked. There are several key drivers, including the following: Improved Flexibility: Adopting the cloud gives employees the ability to work where they want, when they want, and how they want. This makes it easy for employees to take their work with them and collaborate across devices. Streamlined Communication: By rolling out communications such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), video calling, and media-rich streaming across the cloud, workers can quickly and easily access needed files or conduct meetings half a world away, reducing the time needed for setup and increasing overall productivity. App Adaptability: Face it — your staff members are already using the apps they want, with or without permission. By implementing the cloud and then making time to talk with users about the apps they love (and have already installed), you get happier workers. The Big Picture Your employees are happier in the cloud. Company culture is shifting away from a rigid model to one that’s more open, more collegial, and hopefully more flexible. However, what’s the long-term impact? Is happiness good for business? Short answer: You bet. Long answer: Happy employees are more likely to stay with the company and are also more likely to go above and beyond in their day-to-day work. And since you’ve reduced their total stress by giving them a flexible, agile cloud environment, they’re more efficient when it comes to completing projects and meeting deadlines. Best of all? Your costs go down. Implement the cloud well and you should see a cost decline; do a so-so job, and you’ll still break even. Sure, your employee environment isn’t quite so neat and tidy, but rigidity doesn’t really pay — flexibility is the future foundation of effective company culture. To learn more about how the cloud can benefit company culture, talk to a Vonage Business representative. About Doug Bonderud Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies. Linkedin | Twitter January 20 2017 CloudThe hybrid cloud trend is shaping cloud strategy. Ever wish modern tech such as cloud services received as much attention from the tabloids as celebrities? You know, something to keep you abreast of which technologies were hot and which were falling out of favor. In lieu of a National Tech Inquirer, we’ve compiled a list of three major cloud trends dominating the minds of IT professionals today. After all, a cloud strategy is one of the most important aspects of modern IT. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the sheer number of business cloud services supporting critical workflows in just about any modern enterprise environment. If you lost count, you’re not alone. Businesses have quickly come to rely on the inherent manageability and scalability of these virtual resources. It really comes as no surprise, then, when you realize just how much of an impact the cloud has had on the face of IT. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at which trends have had the most effect and why they’ve created such a buzz. 1. Hybrid Clouds and Big Data The concept of big data in the cloud is a bit of a paradox. While Stephen Hawking may have foreseen the perfect marriage of these two technologies, the state of early cloud technology was viewed with apprehension. By its very nature, big data analytics require immense storage footprints that were simply impractical in a cloud setting. Remember those meager limits on early cloud services? Yeah, the ones that counted in megabytes. Well, storage has become far more dense — that’s a compliment — and cheaper to boot. The result is a hybrid cloud infrastructure that makes it practical to leverage the analytics prowess of cloud services on large amounts of data. Speaking of which, the emergence of hybrid cloud technology can be traced back to the need of enterprise organizations to expose their own gigantic data stores to the processing power of cloud platforms. With the addition of storage and CPU clusters, this data can be processed and analyzed with a few clicks of the mouse. It’s for these reasons that hybrid cloud adoption rose 13 percent in 2015 alone, according to Rightscale, and remains one of the hottest trends shaping the face of IT today. 2. Software-as-a-Service There’s no question that computers are getting more powerful with each passing day. The hardware used in enterprise environments today is light years faster and more reliable than those used even a few years ago. Yet despite the enormous strides chip manufacturers have been making, one trend has us questioning the need for so much raw power. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) has emerged as a revolution in how enterprise organizations manage and deploy software to their users. Born of the need for a much simpler way to install, update, and use software libraries in large companies, SaaS takes the burden off the shoulders of the enterprise and shifts it to the vendor. Everything from communication and collaboration software to custom-built enterprise apps can now be enjoyed a la carte. Put simply, this trend is changing the way enterprise users work. 3. Hyperconvergence If SaaS — or really any “as-a-Service” technology — was created to simplify and streamline enterprise software, hyperconvergence could claim the same for the hardware side of things. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, you will. While this particular trend is still somewhat of an up-and-comer, the concept is far too lucrative for it to relinquish its position as a top IT trend. The idea is to take as many aspects of modern IT infrastructure, such as compute, storage, network, etc., add a heaping dose of virtualization, then cram it all into a cheap box of commodity hardware. Popularized by the Facebooks and Googles of the world, hyperconvergence lets enterprise environments use the power of virtual resources — in combination with falling prices in commodity hardware — to drive digital operations from a single platform. The end result is a scalable infrastructure that can be tailored to just about any need. There you have it, three titanic trends that are shaping the very face of modern IT. As the new year rapidly advances, these trends will undoubtedly continue to influence cloud strategy in an enterprise near you. While the new year may bring fresh trends out of the woodwork, it’s safe to say that hybrid clouds, SaaS, and hyperconvergence will still be making their mark. Intrigued? If you’d like to learn more about extensive features available for your organization’s cloud strategy, check out Vonage Business! About Joe Hewitson With a degree in applied computing technology and over a decade of experience in the IT and software development industries, Joe Hewitson has his finger on the pulse of cloud technology. From developing communication applications for the cloud to deploying VoIP solutions in enterprise environments, he’s seen it all. The one thing Joe loves more than staying on the cutting edge of cloud and VoIP technology? Writing about it. Linkedin | Twitter January 18 2017 CloudIs your company ready for the cloud? Take this quiz to find out! Okay, everyone, it’s time for a pop quiz! Be sure to turn all cellphones off, pull out a No. 2 pencil, and keep your eyes on your own paper. Answer the following questions to find out whether your company is ready for the cloud: 1. Migration Is Hard Work. Are You Ready? A.) Our team has prepared a migration plan and is ready to commit the necessary time. The cloud service provider is ready to import our virtual machines. B.) The team is ready, but our cloud service provider has yet to specify the support it provides for the synchronization of data and potential ad hoc changes. C.) Due to a heavy workload, migration will mainly be a one-person show, but we expect the migration to run smoothly. D.) Our team is more of a “go with the flow” type. 2. What Happens When Things Don’t Go Precisely As Planned? A.) Our environment is prepared to keep legacy and new cloud implementations in sync and is ready for failover should the transition prove more difficult than originally thought. B.) The applications being moved into the cloud are not mission-critical, and as such, they do not require a contingency plan. C.) A recovery plan has yet to be finalized in the event migration fails. D.) We’ve hidden away our migration plans in a small R2 unit should the Empire’s attack succeed. 3. Have You Communicated Migration Plans to Affected Users? A.) Communications have been sent well in advance of actual migrations. Clients and internal users are aware of the procedure, and any potential downtime has been allocated and communicated. B.) Clients have been notified of the transition, but hard details and associated downtime have yet to be worked out. C.) Communications are being drafted now and will be sent out as migration plans become more concrete. D.) PSAs are being broadcast on C-SPAN as we speak. 4. Have You Addressed All Potential Cloud Needs? A.) Our cloud business is fully explored, with everything from communication systems to application servers assessed. We know exactly which aspects of our organization will benefit most from cloud services. B.) We’ve addressed the most pressing needs within our business processes and will continue to explore other cloud opportunities as time and budgets permit. C.) This is our first foray into cloud services, and we’re starting small with a single business process. We’ll reassess at a later time. D.) Google Docs has us covered! 5. How Well Do You Know Your Data? A.) We’ve acquired a detailed view of our environment’s data, along with the compliance requirements it’s subject to. We’re prepared to line up these requirements with the abilities of prospective cloud service providers. B.) We have a pretty good idea of what kind of data floats through our systems and will look into any regulation needs when the time comes. C.) No data will be sent outside of our on-premises infrastructure. D.) We have our financial data sitting in flat text files ready to be emailed to our cloud service provider! 6. How Complex Are Your Current Workflows? A.) The workflows and business processes we use are typically complex in nature, with a fair amount of repetitive tasks involved. We crave automation! B.) While certainly complex, the workflows that drive our organization are very hands-on, custom processes. C.) Our workflow processes are incredibly simple and run flawlessly under our current architecture. D.) Our recently deployed carrier pigeon initiative has fully automated our business processes. 7. Do You Understand the Relationship Between Hardware and Applications Within Your Environment? A.) Our environment has successfully documented — and in many cases, abstracted — the dependency of critical applications from the underlying hardware. The needs of our applications are met by our cloud service provider’s hardware. B.) After identifying hardware dependencies of critical applications, some critical pieces of software require a new migration strategy to ensure a successful integration. C.) Our environment is mostly composed of custom applications heavily dependent on specific infrastructure. D.) The applications in our environment are tightly integrated with the Raspberry PI ARM architecture they run on. 8. Why Are You Moving to the Cloud? A.) Our organization has identified important business processes that need an extra helping of agility, flexibility, and scalability. B.) We’re looking for creative ways to cut IT costs. C.) Our data center is at capacity, and we’re in need of more resources and disaster recovery sites. D.) We recently upgraded our iCloud accounts and have tons of free space to use! Answers: Mostly A’s: Congratulations, your environment is ready for the cloud! Mostly B’s: While you’ve still got some work to do, your cloud business is headed in the right direction. Mostly C’s: Chin up! Though your environment needs some foundational help to get ready for the cloud, at least you know where you stand. Mostly D’s: You’ve got quite the sense of humor, don’t you? So, does your business make the grade? The cloud is changing how companies work every day — preparing for it should be every organization’s homework. Visit Vonage Business to learn more about what cloud services can do for your organization. About Joe Hewitson With a degree in applied computing technology and over a decade of experience in the IT and software development industries, Joe Hewitson has his finger on the pulse of cloud technology. From developing communication applications for the cloud to deploying VoIP solutions in enterprise environments, he’s seen it all. The one thing Joe loves more than staying on the cutting edge of cloud and VoIP technology? Writing about it. Linkedin | Twitter January 13 2017 CloudCloud migration offers many unexpected benefits, such as access to a larger talent pool. Remember when you first met your significant other? Perhaps you were attracted to her smile, his sense of humor, her intelligence, or the fact he doesn’t still live with his parents. But as you got to know each other, you discovered there was a lot more to love about this person than just the stuff on the surface. The cloud is the same way. There are the obvious and highly touted benefits, such as scalability, reliability, lower costs, improved analytics, and disaster recovery. However, after a cloud migration, many companies discover unforeseen advantages and business solutions that didn’t even factor into their decision to make the switch. If your company is thinking about moving certain workloads or systems to the cloud, here are six hidden benefits you could soon be enjoying: 1. Improved IT Resource Management As business technology has evolved, so has the role of IT workers. Once upon a time, their job was primarily to maintain servers, troubleshoot office equipment, and ask “Have you restarted your computer?” countless times a day. These days, IT workers have taken on the role of resident rock stars — they’re the experts who help your company leverage the latest technology, develop new business applications, and drive innovation. However, the majority of IT resources still get sapped by routine maintenance, such as installing updates, maintaining servers, and troubleshooting faulty applications. Cloud migrations unburden IT teams from many of these tasks. They can then spend more time and money on new, strategic projects that contribute to the company’s bottom line. 2. Increased Mobility The cloud doesn’t just make your IT department more productive — it also boosts productivity across the organization by letting staff access data and business applications from any location via any connected device. For knowledge workers, this means snow days no longer mean a whole day’s worth of work to catch up on, and travel time is no longer downtime. Employees in the field spend fewer hours on the phone with the home office or digging through email to find the information they need. And, when staff members experience real computer problems — you know, the ones that can’t be fixed by turning them off and on again — they can work from their mobile devices while IT gets their computers back online. 3. Larger Talent Pool There are plenty of fish in the sea, but the best fish for the job might not live in your particular pond. Since cloud migration makes it easy for employees to work from anywhere, you can hire from anywhere, too. So, whether new employees are based in London, Kentucky, or London, England, you can set them up with telecommuting technology and heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work they go. Likewise, if valuable employees move away or simply prefer to work from home, there’s no need to incur the costs of finding and training new talent. 4. Collective IT Insight Think about the last time you saw someone step in a puddle or trip over something. While you were trying not to laugh, you were probably also thinking, “I’m glad it wasn’t me.” Cloud services and applications are constantly being improved, updated, and expanded upon based on customer feedback and experimentation. Because these are shared resources, you benefit from the knowledge that comes with other users’ trials and errors, their setbacks and successes, and their collective innovation. After all, it’s usually more efficient to learn from others’ mistakes and insights than your own. 5. Easier Mergers and Acquisitions Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) can be an exciting time for companies, since they offer opportunities to grow, expand, and make a bigger impact on the world. But getting data and apps from two companies’ servers to play nice is just as much fun as a root canal — and takes a lot longer. It often takes merging companies months or even years to move their data from one legacy system to another. The time and resources it takes to do so has caused more than one M&A deal to fall through. When data and business systems are in the cloud, the transition can happen much faster, and employees from both newly joined organizations can immediately access the information and apps they need to keep working at full speed. 6. Reduced Carbon Footprint Running onsite servers and an offsite disaster recovery system for your data center consumes a lot of energy, especially for larger enterprises. With cloud-based data storage, your server capacity scales to fit your current needs so you don’t use more energy than necessary. This helps your company go greener while also saving some green on the power bill. It’s no secret that the cloud offers plenty of benefits, but some of its most touted highlights barely scratch the surface. Your company’s cloud migration might just reveal a few hidden gems, too. To learn more about the many benefits of cloud migration, speak to a Vonage Business consultant today. Taylor Mallory Holland Taylor Mallory Holland is a professional writer with more than 11 years of experience writing about business, technology and health care for both media outlets and companies. Taylor understands how enterprise mobility and cloud technology can reshape industries and provide new opportunities to streamline workflows, improve employee collaboration and reimagine the customer experience. She is passionate about helping business leaders understand the impact that emerging technologies can have on communication, operations and sales and marketing. Linkedin | Twitter December 22 2016 In the NetworkCloud integration will make your IT infrastructure flexible and future-proof. When someone mentions cloud integration, it conjures up different images in the minds of different people. Some might instantly think of massive environment retooling and the nightmares that come with it. Others may have a more optimistic outlook as they dream of turnkey virtual environments with near-limitless scalability. The truth lies somewhere in between. The Best of Both Worlds Establishing a comprehensive cloud integration strategy is more important than some would think. The reason for this is quite simple: The cloud is the future, and in many ways, the present — at least in terms of IT. You probably don’t need to be evangelized to believe in the benefits of a cloud infrastructure. In fact, even the most cloud-averse likely dabble in some form of cloud technology without even knowing it. Due to the scalability, low hardware investment, and robust nature of cloud infrastructure, companies are searching for ways to assimilate cloud technologies in greater numbers than ever before. A recent MarketWatch integration report helps paint a picture of just how important this integration is to modern business. According to the detailed report — 129 pages if you’re looking for your next novel — system integration is expected to balloon into a $387 billion market by 2021, up from the $270 billion market it is today. Digging a little deeper, the study discovered that integration with the cloud specifically would have the highest compound annual growth rate over that same period. Coincidence? Not likely. Instead, this impressive growth is fueled by the need for modern business to find a truly flexible infrastructure that can accommodate the deluge of modern technological innovation. Riding the Wave of Cloud Integration This predicted surge in cloud integration over the coming years begs the question: How exactly does one marry cloud services with traditional infrastructure? The key is to take things one step at a time. The following are some tips for taking full advantage of your integration without getting in over your head: Stay in Scope: As you begin to shift focus from a traditional communications system (the present) to cloud-based systems (the future), be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. The end goal is an infrastructure that will more easily adapt to the ebb and flow of IT technology, not to overhaul existing systems that already work. Start Small: It’s a good idea to shoot for some manageable, low-hanging fruit for your first integration. Things such as office communication and collaboration are often good test beds for cloud integration. As you continue to add each of these building blocks of cloud services, be sure to keep the goal of agility and flexibility in mind. If a block doesn’t directly contribute to your goal, it should raise a red flag. Practice Smart Spending: Another equally important gem of wisdom to keep in mind is the concept of manageability. With so many aspects of cloud infrastructure available today, you’ll need to resist the urge to splurge, so to speak. Settle on a single vendor or platform as you begin to marry traditional infrastructure with cloud services. This will prevent the need to manage an unnecessary amount of disparate services while also protecting you from wasted resources in service overlap. Ultimately, people don’t (and shouldn’t) look to cloud services as the be-all and end-all of an IT strategy. Instead, cloud technology is simply a means to an end, with that end being an effectively flexible and robust environment capable of assimilating to the future of IT while maintaining the past. If you envision your ideal IT strategy as flexible and robust, contact a Vonage Business representative to get started.