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In many ways, for certain applications and use cases, cloud computing has become as ubiquitous as the internet itself. The cloud is a means of linking people and organizations regardless of the physical locations or conventional temporal constraints that have typically separated them.

Largely due to its infrastructure advantages, remote accessibility and pay-per-usage pricing model, the cloud has spawned a number of different areas of innovation, opportunities, and newfound concerns—particularly in the wake of escalating regulatory demands for the storage and deployment of data.

“We have an opportunity which is global,” noted StaffConnect CEO Bulent Osman about the cloud’s applicability. “It goes across geographical boundaries: not just cities and states, but also internationally. Everything we’re talking about in terms of analytics becomes more interesting because now you have a global dimension, an international dimension, a cultural dimension.”

The global applicability of the cloud’s effect on modern organizations has produced a number of novel possibilities that must be navigated according to the equally novel concerns facilitated by the cloud.

“I think the trend in and of itself is the evolution towards the cloud,” Hyland Director of Global Cloud Services Marc Cianciolo reflected. “It’s an evolution towards organizations recognizing the value associated with outsourcing the management of that infrastructure. Also, [it’s] the ability to…provide organizations a single platform where they can access multiple different repositories.”

Cost Benefits

The cardinal cost advantage of the cloud is in simply connecting to the physical infrastructure hosted by the cloud provider instead of paying for that infrastructure itself—which is intrinsically related to the pay-per-usage pricing model. Oftentimes, this approach results in “many of the cost advantages associated with leveraging a third party for the hosting, and doing so via an operating expense rather than through the large capital expenses that are required for bringing maybe aging infrastructure current,” Cianciolo mentioned. Whereas the latter involves significant upfront expenditures to get started, the cloud offers a pricing paradigm that’s “a monthly operating expense” Cianciolo said, which is frequently much less cost prohibitive than the alternative.

Resource Optimization

Another cost saving opportunity endowed by the cloud pertains to optimizing resources. According to Osman: “For the CIOs and the heads of technology, their biggest challenge today is how to leverage the value that they’ve already invested into all of their non-desk employees.” Certain engagement platforms existing in the cloud and accessed via mobile applications (as well as desktops) can be placed atop technology stacks to democratize access to resources such as Microsoft’s BI services—for which users pay licensing fees. By leveraging those tools across cloud-based employee engagement platforms, organizations can use “a set of APIs and connectors to plug in elements of the Microsoft stack, elements of Sharepoint, BI or whatever it happens to be, and therefore it becomes a holistic solution,” Osman said. The result is accessibility to far more workers than those for which licenses were explicitly purchased. For global organizations such as a large international car rental company mentioned by Osman, with approximately 2,000 desk employees and 28,000 non-desk employees, the cost advantages are considerable.

Data Sovereignty

The issue of data sovereignty is particularly eminent for multinational companies and those attempting to adhere to strict regulations about data’s location for cloud deployments (as well as on-premise ones). “Data sovereignty is an interesting topic because it’s different across different global regions,” Cianciolo acknowledged. “Especially in today’s day and age, looking at the implications of GDPR earlier this year, there are concerns for organizations in Europe, for example, about where their content resides.” Hyland offers its customers a public cloud with 13 datacenters around the world, including locations in multiple parts of the U.S., Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and other regions. In some instances, it has built datacenters to host the data of particular customers in their country of choice specifically for data sovereignty and other regulatory requirements. Other data sovereignty considerations for cloud computing relate to where data is stored for backup and disaster recovery purposes—which is usually not at the primary datacenter.

Regulatory Compliance

Although there are certain aspects of cloud computing that are more susceptible to regulations than on-premise ones are, there are also instances in which the cloud unequivocally aids compliance. Cloud-based communication channels targeting global employee engagement have specific measures designed to distribute and gauge acceptance of regulation policies “via the mobile app to all employees, not just the desk employees,” Osman said. “Everyone can read it on their phones and say that they read it and understand it.” There are even reporting features on such platforms to denote how many employees have acknowledged these policies and indicated their comprehension of them. According to Osman, reporting reveals factors such as, for example, “out of our 10,000 employees, 92 percent of people have read and acknowledged that they understood that new policy. That’s important for regulatory compliance in many instances. Again lies the challenge: you can put that up on your intranet and your desk employees will have access to it. But what about the many tens of thousands of others?”

Security Enhancements

Cloud security used to be a potential inhibitor for adoption rates. Today, it’s widely regarded as a boon of migrating to the cloud, since public cloud security is frequently reinforced by the cyber security spending of some of the most well known names in Silicon Valley, for those choosing large public cloud vendors. Cianciolo contrasted cloud security with “security risks associated with having content within an organization’s four walls; something as simple as a disgruntled employee who might have access to that server room. In a hosted realm those servers are not on-prem. Those servers are, in many cases, several hundreds of miles away.” Moreover, public cloud providers with a particular customer niche will also buttress conventional cyber security efforts with real-time monitoring of “the environment and ensure that attempted hacks are identified and mitigated in real-time,” Cianciolo said. Identification and mitigation methods can include security patches, log data, and “leading edge intrusion detection systems and anti-virus and malware,” Cianciolo added, which increases the security and overall value of cloud deployments.

Looking Ahead

Cognizance of the foregoing cloud opportunities and points of caution—cost savings, resource optimization, data sovereignty, regulatory compliance, and enhanced security—make the cloud a viable option for a host of organizations across industries. As such, it remains one of the leading ways for “uncovering huge amounts of data and with that, trying to have Artificial Intelligence as well as AI technologies mine that data really quickly and bring up actual insights about what’s going on in near real-time,” Osman said. “So it can bring to the attention of employee leadership that sentiment in China is dropping by three percentage points while it’s rising in Europe, and it’s flat-lining in North America, and why that is.”

Such use cases for these technologies, for cloud computing and AI, are interminable.


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