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Part 1: Evaluating the Business Potential of Cloud Infrastructure

Part 1: Evaluating the Business Potential of Cloud Infrastructure

Cutting costs and increasing security might sound like opposite goals; increased security seems like it requires a massive upfront investment. But today’s commercial and industrial organizations are achieving a higher level of security at a more efficient spend. The ability to do so lies in the cloud.

Today’s cloud software supports enterprises that embrace scaling security while getting smarter about budgets. Cloud computing is growing more affordable, but businesses still have to understand the value proposition of investing in new technologies.

This two-part series highlights the business potential of cloud infrastructure for the commercial and industrial sectors.

Cutting Costs

Commercial and industrial facilities have been increasingly reliant on cloud programs to bring down costs and increase efficiency. Cloud software can connect disparate systems, increase production speed and storage capacity, and streamline operations. All of these factors work together to reduce spending – from design to supply to compliance to distribution to administration.

Cloud infrastructure is especially important for reducing costs in commercial and industrial facilities. Cloud infrastructure can integrate solutions between physical locations and internet-enabled systems, leveraging the power and ubiquity of network and mobile devices to bring solutions across an organization. The result is a reduction in overhead, and increased operational continuity.

For example, a manufacturer might work with its supplier to set up an IT infrastructure that provides predictive maintenance. Or, an oil and gas facility might channel data to the cloud and integrate a sophisticated analytics engine to inform business decisions. In both cases, the cloud leads to less downtime, reduced average repair times, improved efficiency, and lower overhead costs.

Disruptive cloud infrastructure can offer savings directly through increased internal efficiency. There are also other ways that cloud infrastructure can open up new profit avenues. For example, more efficiency might mean you can lower customer costs, manufacture new products, or enhance an existing product. Through cloud infrastructure, you may be able to establish new business opportunities and partnerships. New payment models can make it easier or quicker for customers to purchase. Analytics might uncover opportunities for finding new customers and revenue streams.

Efficiency In Action

The Port of Houston Authority is the world’s 12th largest port. There are 600 full-time employees, countless contractors, and several thousand truck drivers entering and exiting each day. Add the 16,000 vessel arrivals per year and you have an economic impact of more than $617 billion. At this scale, cloud infrastructure must be used to ensure the speed, efficiency, and business continuity of its systems.

The port installed AtHoc Connect’s permission-based crisis communications software. In the event of a crisis, the port needs to coordinate across personnel, local city and county first-responders, federal agencies, state agencies, and industrial agencies. In order to do that, AtHoc Connect was integrated across all personnel management systems. The reliability of the system allows The Port of Houston to use AtHoc Connect for both emergency and non-emergency communications, like notifying officers that overtime shifts are available, for example. Gradually, redundant systems and the money they cost the Port of Houston Authority are phasing out, and messages are rapidly getting where they need to go.

Defining Your Business Impact

To scale up the sophistication of your cloud infrastructure, there are many factors to consider. Ask the following questions:

  • How are our systems currently connected?
  • How do we communicate?
  • What operations are remote, and how do they factor into our infrastructure?
  • How can we incorporate predictive analytics?
  • How can we incorporate predictive maintenance?
  • How can cloud infrastructure change our relationships with stakeholders?

You don’t necessarily have to implement a systemic overhaul in order to increase your efficiency, scale up your security, and lower costs. Consider which aspects of cloud infrastructure can offer competitive advantages and phase out inefficiencies.

Read the second part of this series for a look at security within the cloud infrastructure environment, from both a physical and a data perspective.

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