Martin Cullen, director, SM&P, Microsoft

9 Nov 2010

For me, cloud computing offers a brand new approach to computing for businesses. Historically, to utilise new technology there were, at times, barriers to entry in terms of cost in order to play at the table. Cloud offers an ease of access into the marketplace and really it is an opportunity for businesses to avail of technology to bring their businesses forward.

I think there’s one fundamental issue with the concept of cloud computing – what it actually is. It is a little unclear as to what it means to businesses and what it can do. Therefore, it is up to companies like Microsoft to present that information to the marketplace and they can then look to adapt it.

There has been a brilliant bit of research by Gartner which identified that two-thirds of CEOs did not really know what cloud computing was, so there’s a huge amount of education to be done in getting businesses to know the benefits of cloud computing.

For businesses, the first thing I would do would be to look to engage with your IT partner. Bring them in, get them to understand what your challenge is and from there that will spell out the opportunities.

For certain businesses, the challenges are lack of capital to invest in the technology but perhaps cloud offers opportunities for cash-flow management. We’ve been working hard with Microsoft partners to educate them and upskill them on what cloud computing can do for our customers. This gives them a forum for that conversation and a platform for the solution thereafter.

In terms of businesses embarking on cloud strategies, I think the biggest hurdle is actually knowledge, once we get past that it is a about putting a programme in place for how you may adapt the technology. It isn’t any different from doing a migration from one version of Exchange to the next for migrating to Exchange in the cloud.

It really is about knowledge and understanding what is available is the key challenge. It is imperative that Microsoft takes a leadership position in bringing knowledge to market and that our partners, as an extension of that, bring that information to customers.

Where we’ve seen that interaction happen, the ability to move the cloud has been simple and fast.

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