What is Your Cloud Computing Strategy?
Cloud computing and storage have sneaked into insurance agencies in the form of Google Apps and Office 365, along with quite a few file-sharing and storage sites like Dropbox, Box.com, Google Drive, and OneDrive.
These “Shadow IT” solutions are being used by agency staff on a small ad hoc basis to answer specific business needs – like delivering large files to another party. Regardless of size, all firms are using the cloud whether that use is sanctioned by management or not.
Does your agency require a Cloud Strategy? In short, the answer is – Yes.
The 2015 State of the Cloud Report from RightScale shows that around 88% of businesses are utilizing public cloud, 63% are using a private cloud, and 82% of the companies have a hybrid cloud strategy, up from 74% in just the last year.
Following are the benefits of using cloud solutions:
- Speed: Business needs often require quick solutions, without waiting for major company initiatives to be approved.
- Finances: Changing old infrastructure can be costly. Cloud computing can be a less expensive alternative to building your data center.
- Competence: Most agency IT staff do an excellent job of keeping things running. However, they often don’t have the deep technical expertise that is sometimes required. Outsourcing the very technical needs to a cloud provider can be a good business decision.
- Scalability: Cloud solutions allow the agency to grow more easily just by adding another user. No longer do you have to make big investments in hardware when you need to expand.
For many insurance agencies, their experience with cloud computing is their hosted agency management system. There are now solutions available that will allow the agency to host their individual desktop computers in the cloud – eliminating the requirement for in-house computer servers. This process is called Desktop as a Service (DaaS). Last year, I wrote an article on LinkedIn, Back to the Future: The Revival of the Virtual Desktop, that details this new type of service.
My point? Your use of cloud computing solutions is going to increase. There are benefits and there are possible risks. Agency management should have a plan in place to get the most out of cloud technology and mitigate the associated risks.
Proper Cloud Technology Planning
A good plan will not hinder your existing IT department’s responsiveness or self-sufficiency. It will improve the ability of the organization to respond faster to business needs. Whether your cloud solution is public, private or hybrid, you should aim for the following:
- Create a Standardized Operating Environment (SOE), which focuses on security and makes the upgrade process more stress-free.
- Use one SOE Management Platform throughout your entire organization so that handling, supervising, and maintaining your technology infrastructure is easier.
- Make sure the solution you use provides better efficiency, improved data management, higher security, and system authentication.
Overall, your solution should reduce your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
This may seem like an academic exercise. However, your use of cloud computing solutions will increase. Take a few minutes to think about how your organization should respond to this growing trend.
How are you planning on implementing cloud computing within your agency? Let me know in the comments below.