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Renewed, familiar feelings toward an old cloud

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Businesses reacquaint themselves with the public cloud and reap the rewards.

Enterprises are using the cloud more frequently and confidently than ever before, suggesting a major transformation is happening - or has already happened - within the business world. Decision-makers are less concerned about security and performance of the public cloud in particular than they were in the past. This has encouraged executives to leverage hosted PBX solutions, cloud CRM tools and other collaborative technologies that are quickly becoming categorized as mission-critical services.

When the cloud first emerged, companies were instantly drawn to the public, off-site model because of its scalability and cost-effectiveness. After a series of major data breaches, however, many organizations became skeptical of the public cloud's security capabilities and migrated resources back to an on-site, often private cloud infrastructure that internal IT teams could monitor and defend if need be. Recently, this transition is once again turning back on itself, as executives climb out of their shells and fall back in love with the public cloud. This is largely because vendors are maturing and developing more robust, useful and secure solutions.

Falling for the public cloud again

Businesses are using the cloud for a variety of tools, especially collaborative and communication solutions that make it easier to support a remote workforce without compromising efficiency or security. A recent study of IT professionals at the recent 2013 Cloud Expo East conference by Hostway revealed that many enterprises are once again choosing to leverage public cloud environments instead of keeping resources within on-site, internally managed architectures.

The survey, which measured varying perspectives toward public cloud and on-site security, scalability and performance, found that more than 62 percent of respondents believe putting sensitive information within the public cloud is a safer strategy than keeping it on-premises. The study also highlighted how 80 percent of respondents believe the public cloud is more scalable than on-site architectures. This is especially important for business phone systems that need to handle fluctuating volumes of traffic without introducing bottlenecks or other issues that could impair operations.

Additionally, Hostway revealed that nearly three-quarters of IT experts said tools operating within the public cloud often performed better than those maintained in-house. The fact that the public cloud won all three of the comparison metrics within the study suggests that businesses that have not yet considered embracing cloud technologies should consider doing so to improve their ability to compete and thrive in today's complex IT landscape.

"We've noticed a trend toward greater acceptance of public cloud hosting services over the past year. Organizations that were previously hesitant are now moving larger, more robust database workloads into the public cloud environment and we're seeing rising demand for hybrid or public cloud installations from companies that previously used more traditional managed hosting services," said Aaron Hollobaugh, vice president of marketing at Hostway.

Communications in general is making headway toward the cloud, especially as the mobile landscape evolves and forces businesses of all sizes to leverage unified platforms that are able to support connectivity to multiple devices, regardless of location.

Making the switch back to the cloud

While many business VoIP systems are still recognized as efficient, the overall enterprise communications industry is experiencing significant growth due to the proliferation of cloud-enabled solutions. This was highlighted in a recent Infonetics report, which found that the global VoIP market generated $63 billion in revenue in 2012, up 9 percent from the year before.

Analysts said this growth is largely attributed to the proliferation of hosted technologies, as the revenue for cloud VoIP and unified communications increased 17 percent between 2011 and last year. This represented the largest spike across all segments of the enterprise collaboration market.

"The market for VoIP services has moved well beyond the early adopter stage to mainstream status in many developed countries. New geographic regions are opening up and SIP trunking and hosted UC continue to heat things up, fueling growth," said Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP and unified communications at Infonetics Research. "Vendors are increasingly pitching cloud telephony and unified communications services alongside SIP trunking as more multi-site businesses seek out hybrid solutions."

In the coming years, enterprises will continue to take the cloud further than it has ever gone, providing employees with innovative opportunities to improve operations, reduce costs and embrace next-generation technological initiatives such as mobility and bring your own device without problems. As this transition happens, decision-makers need to plan ahead and work with trusted providers to ensure companies do not encounter unnecessary deployment or performance issues in the future. Taking this proactive approach to the cloud will reduce long-term complexities and challenges, allowing organizations of all sizes to take to the cloud to experience their full potential and gain a competitive advantage over rival firms.