Opinion: Cloud Computing and the art of making do

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UNIT4 UK managing director Anwen Robinson takes issue with those who present a polarised view of the Cloud versus on premises software debate.

We live in challenging and confusing times but we must not overlook the huge opportunities that adversity can create. The sooner we accept that change is both required and inevitable, the sooner we can get on with business as usual.


But if organisations listen to the conflicting media agendas driven by the need to sensationalise every aspect of business and political life, then we risk passively drifting back into recession. 


Survival of the fittest


What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; businesses need to learn from the experiences of recent turbulent times and be brave, innovative and willing to transform.


A central tenet of Darwin’s evolutionary theory is particularly apt: “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” Technology is strategically placed to help UK plc adapt, be faster, stronger and more flexible. The parade of recent IT disasters are more often caused not so much by technological shortcomings as an inability to adapt to the changing business landscape.




As we slowly emerge from recession the pressure is still there for IT departments to help companies be more efficient, sell more and out-do rivals; but now with reduced budgets. This is where Cloud Computing comes in, although for many of us it is less of a new technology than an evolution from traditional locally hosted applications that have been around for decades.


Conflicting and confusing messages surround the Cloud versus ‘on-premises’ (non Cloud) software debate. According to the hype on-premises ERP is a dying technology model, while Cloud applications are at the forefront of progress. This polarised view is far from the truth.


In the current times of make do and innovate, businesses need to adopt a more realistic model where both technologies co-exist - a hybrid that lets companies use emerging technologies to introduce business efficiencies, while simultaneously making the most of the software investments they have already made.


The Telegraph Media Group has taken this evolutionary approach by adapting the Cloud-based FinancialForce accounting application to link advertising sales managed in the Cloud by Salesforce.com with financial processes handled by an on premises Agresso system. This approach makes it easier and more cost effective to move elements of the accounting process into the Cloud, without the need to remove or replace its entire ERP solution.


The Cloud also gives companies the opportunity to experiment with new technologies within their existing IT infrastructure in a relatively risk-free manner. In many instances it is now cheaper and more effective to run Cloud-based software pilots than to initiate a tender process.  With no need to install software to get started, it can be relatively easy to understand whether a prospective system will help your business, so avoiding potentially huge financial and time commitments to a project that may not work as expected.

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