Feature Story

Reaching for the Cloud in Europe

by Jason Deign

European corporations are beginning to understand the cost savings and improved business flexibility that cloud computing solutions can deliver.

European governments and companies are working through austerity measures as the economy continues to be challenged.  As a result, European companies are looking for other ways to weather the crisis. Increasingly, they are looking to new and innovative technologies for help. One such technology is cloud computing.

"I think we are at a real tipping point in the way information services are delivered," says John Vincent, a former ABN AMRO staffer who is now a partner at Broadgate Consultants, which advises financial services organizations on IT matters.  Vincent says, "Until a few months ago, infrastructure people felt threatened by the cloud because it encroached on their territory, but now they realize they just have to do it. I have one customer who wants to take £1 billion ($1.58 billion) out of their cost base and they cannot do it with traditional means."

Other IT consultants agree. "Reducing dependency on internal infrastructure and having more flexibility with a 'pay-as-you-go' model can deliver a genuine impact to the bottom line," says Mark Green, Europe, Middle East and Africa e-commerce and cloud director at Insight UK, an IT reseller and advisory firm.

He adds: "The streamlining [the cloud] provides, coupled with the ability to be more nimble with project planning, brings a new competitive edge… for business across Europe. If I have to maintain a server running Outlook and I can move it to the cloud, that is an immediate cost saving. It is putting companies in the position of being able to free up resource and infrastructure."

Cloud computing can also improve business flexibility, helping companies deal with peaks and troughs in business operations. Vincent cites a client whose human resources applications always spike around the time of annual reviews. A cloud computing solution could allow the company to scale for the spikes, without having to purchase and maintain the supporting infrastructure all year round.

In addition, allowing employees to access data and other information in the cloud can also help reduce overhead expenses.

These benefits are becoming harder to ignore as the financial crisis in Europe continues to bite. The cloud, says Green, "has become very real."

Jason Deign is a freelance writer located in Barcelona, Spain.

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