IT professionals are increasingly under pressure to do more with less in a highly competitive climate, and many are now turning to the cloud as an efficient way to meet the changing demands of today's work force. Here now in no particular order is ZDNet's top ten ways cloud computing meets today's changing IT needs. Number one is saving money by only paying for what is needed. Cloud pricing is generally based on flat monthly fees, which means that services can easily be added and eliminated as needed on a per service, or even per user basis. The result is greater flexibility to easily provision IT resources at a lower and more predictable cost than traditional on-premise services. Number two on our list is scaling hardware, software, and services on an as needed basis. Because cloud computing is based on resources from a third-party provider, IT can easily scale capacity both up and down depending on the needs on the business. That means less time and money spent on new services as well as few wasted resources for services that are no longer necessary. And that leads us to number three which is eliminating the time and expense of replacing hardware. The very nature of cloud computing means that businesses no longer need to add the physical infrastructure for everything from applications to more advanced IT services, no more spec'ing hardware, procuring budget, or spending valuable resources on installation and configuration since everything is managed by a cloud service provider. Number four: reducing time for procurement and deployment. It's also related; since additional hardware and other infrastructure are no longer necessary, IT can easily provide new services in a fraction of the time for on-premise solutions. The ability to quickly and easily add a wide range of much needed services is essential for IT departments to continue meeting the ever changing demands of their business. Number five is ensuring high availability of IT resources. Cloud providers are driven to offer the best service possible and most often guarantee the highest levels of availability to meet their own customer service level agreements. Down time, due to standard upgrades, patches, and maintenance, no longer an issue since providers can make changes in real time without any interruption of service. So, customers always have the most recent version. Number six is converting capital expenditures to operational expenditures. Cloud computing reduces the need for capital expenditures on expensive hardware but instead transfers those costs to operational expenditures for monthly services. In so doing, IT can more easily cut down on the time it takes to secure budget because there is no capital outlay or accounting hassles associated with leasing and appreciation. Moving on to number seven, keeping all types of users connected on multiple devices. Cloud computing is based on access through an internet browser which could be running on virtually any device with an internet connection. The leading and most comprehensive cloud providers do support applications and resources on multiple devices such as remote PC's and smart phones for an increasingly mobile work force. Decreasing data center and network maintenance is number eight on our list. Simply put, cloud computing means that most if not all of the responsibility for hosting, maintaining, and operating IT infrastructure lies with the provider. By leveraging the infrastructure of a cloud service provider, businesses reduce the need for additional real estate, staff, and even costly energy for powering cooling. Number nine: simplifying the process of back up and recovery. The best cloud providers offer redundant off-site back up services which can vastly reduce IT concerns about the security and availability of their most precious asset, information. This makes the cloud an excellent way to ensure business continuity and even disaster recovery by automating off-site back up's and ensuring the ability to easily recover data. And finally number ten: protecting previous investments with integrated solutions. Top providers now offer the ability to easily integrate cloud and on-premise solutions in way that is seamless and familiar for users but also leverages existing IT infrastructure. By taking advantage of this potent combination, IT professionals can rest easier by providing additional new services without sacrificing any of those that already exist. And there you have it, ZDNet's list of the top ten ways cloud computing meets today's changing IT needs. Remember, moving to the cloud can free internal IT resources for innovation on line of business of solutions and leave the common IT operations to a trusted service provider. Choosing the right provider is essential and now you have the information that you need to ask the right questions.
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