Today’s cloud is not enough
CIOs face multiple challenges. They need to meet Millennials’ demands for cloud services that enhance productivity while protecting the integrity and security of enterprise data. At the same time, they’re continuously challenged to cut costs — to do more with less.
The Millennial generation — those born between 1978 and 2000 — are pressuring their employers for cloud services. But Chief Information Officers (CIOs) still have concerns about today’s “public cloud.” In the public cloud, bandwidth scalability and latency continue to be challenges. SLAs are inadequate or non-existent. Security is uncertain. A 2011 IDC study confirms these factors inhibit enterprise adoption of cloud services (Figure 1).
Communications service providers (CSPs) have what it takes to help. They can deliver the performance, reliability and security enterprises need to move to cloud services. They can also deliver service level agreements (SLAs) that protect the enterprise. These capabilities are crucial.
Virtual desktops deliver cloud advantages
Virtual desktops offer a good example of how CSPs can help enterprise CIOs deliver cloud services while achieving business objectives. By hosting desktop applications in their carrier-grade cloud, CSPs can help enterprises:
- Ensure performance, reliability and security. CSPs have a distributed footprint that allows them to optimize performance for high-bandwidth, low-latency desktop applications. They can also offer five nines reliability and proven security features.
- Protect investments. CSPs have a long history offering enterprise SLAs. With the right approach, they can take enterprises beyond computing and storage SLAs to offer differentiated SLAs that treat computing, storage and network resources as interrelated variables.
- Streamline operations and costs. Eliminating in-house support for desktop applications reduces resource and cost requirements. Leasing assets on demand increases operational efficiency and shifts costs to an operating expenditure (OPEX) model.
- Quickly access resources. With intelligence that crosses computing, storage and network resources, CSPs can offer a cloud that automatically determines when and where resources are needed and allocate them accordingly.
- Increase mobility. CSPs can deliver virtual desktop applications across fixed and mobile networks, giving enterprise employees access from anywhere, on any device.
- Accelerate innovation. CSPs can use APIs to unlock network intelligence for enterprise developers. This helps enterprises deliver new capabilities, such as immersive video communications, faster and more effectively.
CSPs have other unique advantages. They have a long history as a trusted enterprise partner. And they have first-hand experience adapting to Millennials’ demands.
CSPs know Millennials
Long before Millennials were challenging their employers to keep up with their technology demands, they were challenging CSPs. Millennials are the first generation to grow up in a world where devices are connected. Previous generations grew up as TVs, gaming consoles and PCs proliferated. But the devices weren’t connected. People typically enjoyed technology advances at work before they were available at home.
With the advent of DSL and cable modems, everything changed. Communications technology had the potential to be more advanced at home than in the workplace. Growing up in connected homes, Millennials developed expectations about when, where and how they should be able to interact.
CSPs first encountered Millennials as consumers. At home, Millennials encouraged their parents to adopt more sophisticated, interactive services. When they left home, they challenged universities and colleges to support new devices, apps and communications media. They chose CSPs that enabled the mobile, social and multimedia lifestyle they wanted. When new players offered free cloud services for e-mail, social networking and video communications, Millennials bypassed their CSP and happily adopted those services.
Now Millennials are bringing their habits and expectations into the workplace.
Big group, big expectations
Because Millennials have grown up connected to one another, they put high value on the exchange of ideas and opinions. They expect workplace tools that help them easily connect and collaborate. Research completed by the Alcatel-Lucent Global Youth Labconfirms that Millennials truly see technology as an extension of themselves and their ecosystem. It is indispensible to them and they naturally gravitate to it.
Millennials were also taught that it’s OK to challenge authority and protocol. They bypassed CSPs. And they won’t hesitate to bypass enterprise IT departments to get the cloud services they want from alternative providers — regardless of the risks to the enterprise. Their actions create an ironic situation. Best-effort casual clouds can jeopardize the integrity and security of the data CIOs are trying to protect by not adopting today’s cloud services.
As more Millennials enter the workforce, the challenges and risks facing enterprise IT departments increase. Millennials are well beyond being a niche group within enterprises. According to Ron Alsop, author of the book “The Trophy Kids Grow Up,” Millennials will make up about one-third of the workforce by 2014.
This big group with big expectations opens the door for CSPs to step in and help.
A more intelligent cloud
CSPs have a wealth of network assets. They also understand how Millennials consume technology. They can use this expertise and experience to take enterprises above and beyond today’s casual cloud. To enable real-time productivity, an evolving workforce needs a cloud that evolves with it.
CSPs have an opportunity to offer enterprises a more intelligent cloud — one that delivers easy access to tailored cloud services on demand, on any device with guaranteed performance, reliability and security. These capabilities will help enterprises meet Millennials’ demands. They will also help them increase productivity and take advantage of new business models while reducing risks and costs.
For CSPs, delivering a better cloud can lead to a better enterprise business and better differentiation in a crowded cloud services market.
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-  Ron Alsop: ‘Millennials’ making workplace waves” by Martin Swant, The Birmingham News, http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2010/11/author_ron_alsop_millennials_m.html © 2011 Alabama Live LLC. ↩