Can You Put Your Trust in the Cloud?
Written by: Chris Mankle, Vice President and chief technology officer, ITO Strategy & Service Management, ACS, A Xerox Company
The cloud is everywhere.
It has changed how organizations manage their business. It touches everything from the software running your desktop computer to your complex business processes and your foundational IT infrastructure.
The cloud has also provided dramatic gains in efficiency and productivity. It has pervaded blogs, industry conferences and the minds of CIOs with its promise of adaptability, cost benefits and agility, but despite its advantages, some are still hesitant to get onboard due to its inherent risks. Contracts and assurances only seem to go so far when there’s an underlying concern of trust: Will processes continue to function? Will data be protected and kept confidential?
These hurdles lie in the way before the cloud becomes a widely accepted paradigm for computing, but nevertheless, it is fast becoming a dynamic force in business. With the right approach, cloud-based services can improve performance and create a competitive edge for forward-thinking businesses.
What the Cloud Can Do for You
Many business leaders view the cloud as the next big thing in IT, document management and business process outsourcing, and it’s easy to see why. It enables companies to add IT capabilities or capacity when they need it – without investing in a new infrastructure. A flexible, on-demand model can bring new agility, enabling IT to better align with business objectives and shift its focus from operations to innovation. It also helps businesses make the most of their documents and workflows. Specifically, these benefits include:
· Flexibility and scalability: Because there is no infrastructure to manage and maintain for the cloud, and businesses only pay for what they use. Instead of investing in permanent resources that may not be needed in the future, businesses can just tap into the cloud for immediate needs.
· Unlimited storage and processing power: The cloud is a bottomless source of storage capacity, which means businesses don’t have to expand a data center or add servers to a network. Similarly, it houses vast computational power, so there’s no need to add more CPUs to an in-house IT infrastructure. In addition to costs, this helps companies reduce the need for overall energy consumption.
· Benchmark technology and best practices: Leading providers of cloud services are able to provide innovative technology and current best practices thanks to size and resources, and businesses reap the benefits.
· Streamlined implementations: As more data and documents move to the cloud, the platform becomes a key resource for knowledge workers to share information, create and revise documents and collaborate in real time.
Mitigating Security Concerns
Despite all of these advantages, however, many organizations are delaying the decision to tap into the cloud. One of the main reasons for the holdup is the understandable concern about security.
In many cases, this concern can be resolved through private clouds. Information security is an issue with any shared environment, but private clouds developed and maintained by a trusted provider ensure that information may be more secure than if it’s stored inside a firewall. Providers of private cloud services typically operate security systems that are multilayered and more robust and effective than organizations can create on their own. As a result, they often set the standard for information security today.
What to Look for in a Provider
Since cloud computing is a form of outsourcing, all of the key issues from information security and privacy to service quality and reliability ultimately come down to one thing: the choice of someone you trust. When looking for a provider, businesses should choose one whose offering aligns with the following principles:
· Security measures should be designed to support the business, not impede it.
· The system should approach defense from a multiple-layer standpoint spread throughout the expanse of the IT infrastructure.
· The security design should be flexible enough to adapt to changing business situations and evolving technology.
Businesses can have great success with cloud computing by doing a little research. Finding a provider that has a long track record of performance, a reputation for innovation, leading-edge technology and expertise, and a comprehensive portfolio of best practices, will enhance their chances for a successful business transformation effort and an edge over the competition.
About the author
Chris Mankle is chief technology officer for IT Outsourcing in ACS, A Xerox Company. He leads the CTO Office in driving and delivering innovation, developing and executing a strategy, recommending the best solutions, creating a vision, promoting innovative solutions, and identifying and driving new business opportunities.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.