the advisor

Issue 2, 2014  |  Table of Contents

Weighing the Decision to Move to the Cloud
By Charlie Brandt

By now, everyone has heard about cloud computing and, likely, has at least considered use of the cloud for professional or personal needs. Early on, though, organizations were hesitant to adopt the cloud, out of concerns about security, data accessibility, integrity, confidentiality, and portability. Also, just a few small cloud-based applications piqued interest for on-demand, automated computing resources for businesses.

Eventually the benefits of cloud-computing, including agility, scalability and economies of scale, sustainability, reliability, and increased efficiency, started helping companies overcome their concerns. Additionally there are the economic benefits – organizations only pay for the resources they are using when they use them. Of course, this new consumption and delivery model brought a shift from capital expenditure to operating expenditure, which companies had to consider in their decision-making.

Still, moving to the cloud was not a quick or easy decision. Then along came Office 365, the cloud-based service hosted by Microsoft. Office 365 is now one of the most commonly implemented cloud solutions for businesses. It combines the familiar Microsoft Office desktop applications with cloud-based e-mail, shared calendars, instant messaging, video conferencing, file sharing, and file storage. Multiple plans are available to fit different company sizes and needs. Subscription services allow for incremental investment based on what fulfills an organization’s needs at any given time.  

Office 365 provides access, mobility, and flexibility. All necessary documentation, tools, emails, contacts and calendars are delivered from the same access point. And these are readily accessible across an individual’s multiple devices (PC, Mac, tablet, smartphone), using just one license. Office 365 also provides greater reliability and security. Office 365 includes gate-checks for security and compliance, enabling easy application installation and usage. With a 99.9% scheduled uptime, there is almost no interruption to service. In addition, the storage of files in a cloud-based environment versus on a singular device reduces security risks for organizations and loss risks for employees.  

It may be time to consider Office 365 when renewing Microsoft licenses. Implementation of Office 365 can be complicated, though. Organizations must be thoughtful in their migration approach, considering the people-focused aspects, as well as the technical ones. Successful migrations include the development of practices and processes for employees as well as in-depth training for employees to understand the tools and the standardized manner in which they are to be used. Following these steps increases adoption of the full suite of tools and, ultimately, the benefits of the solution. 

About the Author
Charlie Brandt is a partner with Katz, Sapper & Miller and the managing director of KSM Consulting, LLC. Charlie helps with the implementation of technology and business transformation, with a focus on Human Services, Education, Healthcare, and Workforce Development. Connect with him on LinkedIn.