What the cloud means for systems integrators

Systems integrators may look at cloud computing hesitantly, but the advantages it offers in their line of work are undeniable.

Traditionally, a systems integrator has been tasked with making sure that separately designed pieces of software work together to allow a company’s operations to function efficiently. Rather than commissioning the design of a completely new piece of kit, the firm can save money by combining software that already exists.

As the shadow of the cloud has moved steadily further across the IT sector, an increasing number of products have been created that operate in this way, which have often turned the heads of systems integrators. The world of technology moves fast and while some people have happily adopted the cloud for its evident advantages, others remain unsure.
Everyone has their own preferences as to how their IT infrastructure is put together, but cloud hosting becomes ever more attractive when you consider how much more flexible a piece of software can be when it is based in the cloud, rather than on a localised server. The key buzzwords for this advance in technology are ‘flexibility’ and ‘scalability’.

For a systems integrator asked to make sure that a system functions no matter how many employees are online or how much data is being processed, these can be crucial benefits. But how does cloud computing improve the internal architecture of an IT network?

By being based in the cloud, it suddenly becomes easier for a firm to alter how much data storage capacity it wants, or how much processing capability it needs. There is no need to physically move data around or mess about with associated changes, as there might be for making such changes on a local server. Technical thresholds are no longer such restrictive factors when it comes to the growth and development of a business.

In practice, this ability to alter configurations easily is arguably the most important aspect of cloud-based software, but there are a couple more points to raise if a systems integrator is attempting to justify such products to the finance department. Most importantly, the cloud tends to cut the costs associated with carrying out a task, as well as allowing the terms of a deal to be more flexible. This ability to impact a firm’s bottom line is often a deal breaker.
A separate issue relates to its green benefits. The environment is increasingly becoming a topic with which every business must engage and the cloud has been praised by green IT experts for the way that it cuts energy usage. A local server needs cooling and will actually take up a significant amount of energy to do so, whereas the data centres that house cloud data use a great deal less thanks to their use of high-tech cooling systems – resulting in a reduced carbon footprint.

IT professionals are entitled to run the rule over each piece of software they are considering using; in fact, they would not be doing their job properly if they didn’t do so. However, it is important for systems integrators to understand the benefits the cloud offers and how this impacts their work.

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