There is a new demand to get office networks off the ground and into the cloud. Cloud-based application and cloud storage platforms promise certain advantages over “on-premise” software solutions, among them: SaaS flexibility associated with licensing and scalability (such as the ability to easily expand storage), inherent remote access to company documents, flexible monthly billing, and depending on the cloud platform, deeper infrastructure with additional redundancy and automated third-party backup that offers greater protection against data loss or theft.
Not only does this new model represent a significant shift in how businesses store and access their digital content, but also how they pay for it. All expenses for storage, software, and support are included in a single monthly fee, so there are no hidden costs or unplanned overruns in the IT budget. The recent launch and licensing model for Microsoft Office 365 is just one example of this new model going mainstream.
However, many organizations large and small have already invested heavily in on-premise servers and software solutions. Should these organizations abandon their existing hardware and software systems and jump into the cloud? Or, are there ongoing advantages to their on-premise servers and software deployments, in addition to simply maximizing their existing investments, that offset potential benefits associated with moving to the cloud?
The good news is that companies don’t have to make this choice. Organizations can leverage their existing on-premise technology investments AND take advantage of cloud-based solutions that augment current systems, and do so without significant capital investment and incremental resources to support it. In fact, GigaOM notes that 60% of businesses plan to implement a hybrid cloud model, combining cloud and on-premise deployments. Transferring content to the cloud is relatively quick and painless and can be managed with little interruption to the normal flow of business.
We recently issued an announcement about our support for Dynamics GP, Microsoft’s popular ERP solution, which highlights this “hybrid” deployment capability.
Although it is possible to use a third-party hosting provider to deploy Dynamics GP “in the cloud,” and Microsoft themselves have announced that an online version of GP will be available in the future, similar to the existing Dynamics CRM Online offering, an online version of Dynamics GP is not yet available from Microsoft. However, with M-Files Cloud Vault, businesses can now incorporate easy document management running on the highly scalable and reliable Windows Azure cloud platform into their existing on-premise Microsoft Dynamics GP systems. The resulting “hybrid” model supports a uniquely flexible computing environment that enables businesses to maintain their current ERP deployment approach while utilizing the cloud to improve the way they organize, manage and track important financial and operational documentation and processes.
Alternatively, as mentioned above, Microsoft does currently offer Dynamics CRM Online. In this scenario one could choose to set up an on-premise document repository that links important customer-related documents directly to records in Dynamics CRM Online. This approach can offer multiple advantages, including significantly reducing the cost of storage, and also addressing regulatory compliance issues in certain industries related to where confidential information is stored and maintained.
The cloud offers businesses new options and flexibility related to deploying technology, but on-premise software solutions are still the dominant deployment model and continue to offer important benefits. With an approach that includes one or both models, it’s possible to get the best of both worlds.