Canadian businesses are unclear when it comes to cloud computing reveals a Microsoft Canada survey released today. The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing, polled Canadian C-level executives across all sectors and found that 19 per cent of those who indicated they are not currently using cloud services were in fact leveraging cloud computing solutions and services like Microsoft Web Apps, Microsoft Office 365 and Windows Azure.
Simply put, the cloud is a network-based way to cost-effectively process, manage and store all of your data – everything from corporate documents to family photos.
The survey also found that those who are not using cloud-based services (67 per cent) admit they don’t know enough to make major decisions about it at this time.
“This confusion comes as no surprise because “Cloud” can refer to a wide variety of different services,” says John Weigelt, National Technology Officer for Microsoft Canada. “The market is rife with misinformation and myths surrounding cloud computing, and Canadian businesses are losing out as a result. The truth is that the cloud can deliver huge benefits such as cost-savings, increased productivity and greater efficiency, but businesses don’t know where to start.”
The survey indicated security and privacy are the top two barriers for entry into cloud computing for organizations including government and healthcare, whereas security and reliability (data loss) are the major barriers for private sectors.
“Many businesses are already in the cloud whether they know it or not,” says Weigelt. “It’s time to take stock of what is already used in-house and consider what other cloud technologies can be introduced. Only by understanding the principles, technology and processes associated with Cloud computing, will Canadian businesses be able to reap the rewards and unlock the potential that cloud offers.”
“It’s important that businesses become more knowledgeable about cloud computing and understand that they can have both privacy and functionality,” said Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario. “With proper privacy protections designed into the system from the very beginning of its lifecycle, and integrated at every system layer, businesses can gain the huge financial and competitive advantages of cloud and ensure security.”
Many Canadian businesses also don’t realize they have a choice between adopting public or private cloud solutions or a combination of both, called a hybrid approach, allowing businesses to select services from locations where they make the most sense. A private cloud can be managed in-house or by a third party, with data hosted on or off-site, whereas public cloud is an infrastructure made available to the general public or a large industry group, owned by a vendor providing cloud services.
“Every organization’s journey to the cloud will be unique. Some organizations will call for customized, dedicated cloud resources, while others will benefit most from the massive scale of the public cloud,” says Weigelt. “In many cases, a hybrid approach is the answer, providing the freedom to select services from where they will most benefit the organization and even move back and forth at will.”
Canadian organizations are beginning to take advantage of the cloud for their service delivery initiatives, reaping the benefits of the low-cost, low-management and flexible cloud offerings.
“At the University of Toronto, we are implementing Microsoft Live@edu email and software service for all of our 70,000 students to simplify online collaboration and document sharing, while keeping students’ data private and promoting online safety,” said Robert Cook, Chief Information Office, University of Toronto. “This cloud-based service helps the university reduce costs through lower IT management and hosting fees, allowing us to divert resources back into the core of our academic mission. Our students benefit from improved communication and collaboration and are equipped with the tools for success in both their academic pursuits and future careers.”