Why Flexibility Matters

I’m all about saving gas. But if I were to buy a new car, it wouldn’t be an all-electric car. It would be a plug-in hybrid. Why? In a word-- flexibility.

I may not always be somewhere where I can plug in my car and recharge the battery. And when I’m not, I don’t want to be left stranded. I want the option of switching back to hybrid mode so I can run my car off a gas engine. That flexibility is key to me in staying productive.

In the same way, to be most productive or to best manage information resource assets and expenses, many organizations need a flexible approach to the cloud. They have different needs and different goals. For many, an all-or-nothing approach – like the one offered by Google – simply won’t work.


Why a Hybrid Approach to the Cloud? 
Unlike Google, which forces companies to move to the cloud all at once whether they like it or not, Microsoft provides organizations with maximum flexibility. Companies can move all of their applications to the cloud, or just some. They can choose which applications they move to the cloud and which to keep on premises. And they can go at their own pace.

While for some companies, moving completely to the cloud makes the most business sense, for many others it simply does not. Indeed, one cloud computing survey found that 45 percent of CIOs believe a hybrid approach to the cloud is the best option.

There are many scenarios in which a hybrid approach works best. Some companies want to move at their own pace. Others want to pilot a subset of users before committing the entire organization. Many organizations want to capitalize on their existing investments, while embracing the cloud for new situations. For example, they may want to use the cloud as an inexpensive way to bring field workers into the IT fold without ripping and replacing their existing systems. Or they may want to embrace the cloud as a cost-effective way to integrate new companies as they acquire them.

Other companies may want to use the cloud to improve service for remote users who are physically distant from their on-premises deployment. And those with complex legal requirements may want to take advantage of the cloud for some applications, while keeping others on premises to fulfill compliance or security needs.

Bringing Current Technology to Field Staff
Take the City of Rome, for example. Located in Northwest Georgia, the city wanted to use the cloud to deliver email to police and firefighters while continuing to serve its other workers on-premises with Microsoft Exchange. The city’s IT group determined that deploying Microsoft Office 365 to field staff would be simpler than constructing new network connections. Additionally, the hosted solution’s web-based interface is flexible so that field workers have a choice of mobile devices to check their email accounts. Says Johnny Bunch, director of information technology for the city: “This hybrid solution was perfect for us because it fit right into our environment.”

Deploying Office 365 for a small subset of users allowed the City of Rome to evaluate cloud-based services before committing the entire organization. “Because of our concerns about user skills, data leakage, and other legal issues, we’ve been very cautious in our approach,” Bunch says. “We [wanted] to see what issues would crop up [in a cloud environment] and see how we would handle those issues in case we decided to roll [a cloud-based system] out city-wide. We wanted to have an idea of what we were getting into.”

Integrating Acquired Companies
MedcoEnergi Internasional took a hybrid approach for a different reason. An integrated energy company based in Indonesia, the company frequently buys and sells smaller businesses. The company wanted to keep its on-premises deployment of Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint Server, and Lync Server at its headquarters, and create a simple way to transition new employees to its messaging and collaboration solutions as it acquires new businesses.

Office 365 allows MedcoEnergi to continue to reap the benefits from its existing infrastructure while reducing administrative costs. “At many of our locations, we can eliminate our on-premises servers running Exchange Server altogether, which will greatly reduce administration,” says Cecep Saefudin, Manager-Infrastructure Services at MedcoEnergi Internasional. “In addition, when we acquire new businesses, we can avoid deploying additional hardware in those locations.”

Hosting Some Apps On-Premises and Others in the Cloud 
One of the largest groups within food, energy, and agriculture in Scandinavia, Lantmännen is owned by Swedish farmers and has more than 10,000 workers. As part of its transition to standardized communications for employees, it sought cost relief by moving to a cloud-based solution for messaging, communications and collaboration. The company selected Office 365.

Looking at its employees’ specific needs, it found it could serve some better via applications in the cloud and some better with on-premise applications. "We plan to move some of our team sites to the cloud, but we will keep our SharePoint Server on-premises for more complex applications,” says Linda Westerback-Litzén, service manager for end-user services.

The group also chose a staged implementation: "We have to transition different types of employees from different organizations, so we will migrate the largest employee mailboxes first, which will help us gain experience with the migration and how best to transition the rest of our employees," says Westerback-Litzén.

As one modern day architect, Anthony Lawlor, puts it, “Flexibility, as displayed by water, is a sign of life. Rigidity, its opposite, is an indicator of death.” With Microsoft, there’s no rigidity and no technology ultimatums. Instead, we provide flexibility in the form of a full range of cloud services, and let you decide what works best for your organization. 


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