Cost savings… elasticity…. scalability…. load “bursting”…. storage on demand… These are the advertised benefits of cloud computing, and they certainly help make for a solid business case for using either third-party services or a virtualized data center.But after the agreements are signed, systems and processes are set up, and users are retrained, something unexpected happens. The initial use cases are realized, but then additional benefits begin to emerge — sort of like the icing on the cake, but often, these unforeseen benefits provide far more value to the business than initially planned. Over the past couple of years, I have spoken with many CIOs and executives who not only talk about the unplanned challenges, but also cite pleasant surprises as well. Here are some examples of such unexpected benefits that emerge as cloud projects roll along: More flexibility to get into new businesses. What holds back new the pursuit of ideas among entrepreneurs and large organizations alike? Time and money, or the lack thereof. Say you want to design and test a new product line. With the available of on-demand cloud resources, new configurations can be up and running within hours or minutes, so that helps reduce the time element. Since users will only be charged for that amount of time they use cloud, that helps reduce the money needed. Even within the largest enterprises, innovation springs from constant experimentation, the ability to keep trying new ideas, and be willing to fail. On-demand cloud resources provide the way to try out new ideas without extreme investments in supporting systems. And a shift in business focus can be made fairly quickly. Smoother mergers and acquisitions. One of the great sticking points of many mergers is the months, or even years, it takes to bring data and records from one system into another. Sometimes, it never happens. Even government agencies have this problem in a big way, especially when efforts are made to consolidate agencies or departments. There are agencies today that have workers manually coding information from one system to another. It still takes a lot of time and work. With systems in the cloud, however, the transition is much faster. End-users in the conjoined organizations can readily and rapidly access cloud-based systems. Ability to duplicate or adopt successful business processes others have hashed out. One of the fears about cloud services is that they’re homogenized, built to the lowest common denominator, and thus leveling the playing field for all business customers. At the same time, cloud services are based on the collective learning and input of customers, and new customers immediately are exposed to processes, formulas and interfaces that are well-tested and proven to deliver the best business results. This is the kind of education you can’t even get at Harvard Business School. More tech savvy in the executive suite. These days, in a hyper-competitive global economy, the advantage goes to organizations that are adept at leveraging the latest technology resources. To get there, they need the leadership and guidance of their CIOs, CTOs and other technology leaders. You don’t want these executives’ time saddled overseeing maintenance of in-house IT systems — in fact, statistics regularly show that up to 80% of IT budgets are tied up in routine maintenance. Cloud frees up IT executives to think and act strategically. IT leaders provide the insights needed to select the right technology resources for the business, be they from the corporate data center or from an outside service provider. Segue into the cloud business. As many organizations build out private cloud — using tools from VMware or OpenStack — they are establishing online services that not only can be delivered to internal users, but outside their firewalls as well. In addition, organizations using third-party services are incorporating those services into their own bundles of offerings. As a result, they are offering various online services to customers and partners. Witness UPS and FedEx, which provide tracking and logistics applications to customers from their sizable data centers. Perhaps a market will develop for excess corporate compute cycles? With increased usage of cloud technologies, your data performance must be ready for the increased demands. Are you ready to rethink your data network and ensure it is optimized to meet the increasing demands of today's applications? If you need a partner in the cloud, then let’s talk about how we can help you.