Cloud computing: special report

Cloud computing could be as important, and as game changing, as the first PCs. So how should businesses use the cloud, how should they prepare for it, and who are the vendors to watch? By Stephen Pritchard.

For mid-sized businesses, the ability to cut down on fixed IT overheads or to run large IT infrastructures with very small teams can make renting IT attractive.

At Advanced Innovations, Higgins suggests that his company saves 35 per cent on the total cost of ownership of its IT infrastructure, although he concedes that the previous environment, physical servers which were not virtualised, does not offer a like for like comparison. "The savings might not have been as high, if we'd already virtualised," he says.

Other companies are reporting larger savings, even by moving just part of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. Eversheds, an international law firm, has moved its email anti-virus and anti-spam, but as critically, also its email archiving, to the cloud through provider Mimecast.

"For us, the move to Mimecast wasn't purely a cost-saving exercise," explains, Stuart Walters, the firm's head of application delivery.

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"The primary benefit has been reducing the burden of managing a number of complex email processes and systems. These are now all managed remotely by the Mimecast team, reducing our overheads in terms of on-site technology, personnel and time It may be a clich but adopting cloud computing has allowed us to get more for less and spend our time on more value adding IT services."

None the less, Eversheds calculates that it has saved 700,000, when all costs, including data storage, are factored in.

Businesses in fields such as the law have to be especially conscious of security and privacy issues. These have already proved to be significant barriers for some organisations, leading to the creation both of private clouds, for larger enterprises, and government clouds such as the UK's g-cloud initiative.

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