How much of an impact cloud computing can have on Ireland and the benefits it can offer to businesses.
Cloud computing could be a huge opportunity for Ireland. A recent economic impact study prepared for Microsoft by Goodbody Economic Consultants has revealed Ireland has many of the attributes to become a global cloud computing centre of excellence.
It could capture a large share of the global €40bn cloud computing industry, giving us the chance to build a €9.55bn a-year-in-revenues industry by 2014.
Already, 30pc of ICT firms in Ireland sell products and services through the cloud and by 2014, this will be closer to 50pc.
“It is vital that we put in place a productive policy to take advantage of the transformative potential cloud computing has for all our organisations,” says Paul Rellis, managing director, Microsoft Ireland.
A benefit of cloud computing
There certainly is compelling evidence to persuade Ireland as a whole to embrace cloud computing. But what are the smaller, more individual opportunities that the cloud can bring to businesses?
“The benefit of cloud computing is that it allows the idea to be king rather than the capital expenditure allowance," says Andrew Maybin, network services director of Tibus. “So if you’re an Irish business that has an innovative idea for some transformation technology in your business, you can book that into production and execute that idea without the need for huge infrastructure investments that might be risky or that your capital expenditure budgets may not allow.”
Maybin believes that cloud computing can have a positive impact on many sectors of the business.
“At a technical level or an operational level, the IT department will see the benefits of scalability, flexibility and the increases of capacity,” he says.
“For finance, the lack of need for capital expenditure investments for new ideas is very attractive and, even more importantly, it follows the green agenda.
“Cloud computing lives in data centres; data centres are efficient; efficiency in data centres means that you get a lower computing electricity cost if you’re a business so that’s a smaller carbon footprint,” says Maybin.
Edel Creely, managing director of Trilogy Technologies, believes that other areas that gain from the cloud are disaster recovery and business continuity.
“That’s where organisations are seeing the benefits very quickly that can come from using cloud-based systems to help them they’re very large areas of rapid adoption,” says Creely.
Cloud computing leaders
Such benefits are being noticed, considering that 30pc of Irish ICT companies are utilising cloud computing to sell their services. Which companies in particular are leading the charge?
“I think, in truth, it’s probably the medium to large companies in the vanguard of cloud deployment. The reason behind that is the high cost of IT,” explains Adam Grennan, engineering manager at Cisco.
“I would also say that small companies like to have the ability to defocus IT where it mightn’t be a core competency and to be able to hand that off to a cloud provider.”
Jimmy Kehoe, director of sales and marketing at Datapac, believes that, rather than companies moving all their infrastructure to the cloud at once, they are doing it bit by bit.
“I don’t see organisations lifting and shifting their entire IT environment out to the cloud in one fell swoop. What they currently tend to do is build their private cloud – virtualising – and when the service providers have their infrastructure ready and bandwidth is sufficient and priced accordingly, organisations will move their whole virtual computer room to the cloud and have IT delivered as a service,” says Kehoe.
“This will take time, but I’ve little doubt that in a few years, a significant number of Irish organisations will have their whole ICT environment in the cloud.”
Cloud and specific business requirements
While Creely emphasises the importance of the advantages of cloud computing, she points out that businesses need to see what it can offer their specific business requirements.
“Some of the greater advantages one hears about are the cost savings that come about from working with the cloud, the ease of doing business, deploying new IT systems and applications for a business and that is very true,” says Creely.
“But one also has to look at the implications of change for that business, whether cloud computing can bring advantages directly and immediately, that needs to be investigated.
“What I would suggest is that an organisation looks at developing a cloud strategy for its business, looking at the different opportunities that can come from the cloud, where those advantages may apply to their business and then embarking on a strategy to apply those.”
Regardless, it seems that cloud computing is very much here to stay. With the numerous benefits it can offer organisations and the opportunities it can bring to Ireland as a whole, it’s becoming a staple of the IT industry of the future.
“Whether it’s the biggest transformation in IT that we’ve known is a source of debate,” says Maybin.
“I’d say the world wide web might be behind that one but cloud computing is certainly one of the most important things that’s happening in IT at the moment.”