Cloud on your terms – the era of cloud computing

Charles Fernandez| Freemalaysiatoday

Most of us don’t realise this, but we have already ditched the idea of being tied to the office computer for doing work. We are already living in an era where our essential data can follow us to wherever we need to access it. We are already living in the era of cloud computing. Day by day, cloud computing is becoming essential for most of us. Many services that we use in our daily life actually reside somewhere in the “cloud”.

Therefore, it is not far-fetched to say that many businesses are actually starting up on the cloud – meaning they are beginning to realise the power of cloud computing technology – whether to take advantage of its ability to spread IT capabilities cost-effectively, to create new ways to serve the customer or even operating beyond limits that had traditionally hampered IT.

Cloud-powered communications is now the key to reaching out to all types of companies, from small businesses all the way to corporate giants.

One company that has taken advantage of cloud computing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is Microsoft Malaysia, through its Office 365 productivity suite.

Since its launch in 2011, the response towards cloud computing technology has been overwhelming, bringing real and tangible benefits to Malaysian companies.

One of Microsoft Malaysia’s customers is Zepto Consulting Sdn Bhd, a thriving consulting startup that needed support for its frequently on-the-move workers who enjoy the flexibility of working from home, at client’s offices or even coffeeshops.

Zepto decided to implement Microsoft Office 365, a cloud-based subscription service that includes fast, easy file sharing, data protection, reliable e-mail service and online conferencing.

Reliable access

With Office 365, the company pays only for services that Zepto’s employees use for their work. The product is also flexible enough to grow with the company’s needs.

The suite has helped Zepto increase productivity by giving employees faster, more reliable access to files and a 99.9% service uptime.

For example, by conducting more meetings through Lync Online instead of face-to-face, Zepto can save US$12,000 (RM37,080) each year in travel costs. Overall, Office 365 has improved the company’s bottom line by about 10%, giving employees more productive hours and reducing operational costs for the company as a whole.

Another customer, marketing services firm Crystal Edge Sdn Bhd was able to increase productivity by 35%, improve collaboration by 30% and demonstrate cost-savings of up to 40% when it chose Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite.

Microsoft Malaysia director (small, medium and partners solution) Mohit Pande said the company was committed to accelerating business transformation through helping Malaysian companies enhance their competitiveness through technology.

“While we don’t break down our results by specific markets, suffice to say that Microsoft Malaysia is committed. We have developed the largest local partner ecosystem with over 5,000 homegrown partners nationwide. Malaysia was also one of the first emerging markets in Asia with end-to-end Microsoft Cloud services,” said Pande.

He said Microsoft Malaysia continues to build and maintain vital strategic partnerships with the Ministry of Finance, SME Corp Malaysia, Multimedia Development Corp and Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) to name a few, to help businesses become strong gross domestic product (GDP) contributors.

Pande said the partnership between Microsoft Malaysia and SME Corp in 2011 was a landmark agreement to transform Malaysian SMEs with cloud computing technology.

Strategic lever

SME Corp said the agreement was a strategic lever for SMEs to help them become more vital contributors to the Malaysian economy.

SME Corp CEO Hafsah Hashim said if Malaysian SMEs are to succeed in growing to contribute 41% of GDP by 2020, then it is essential that they use ICT to raise efficiencies and innovate the ways in which they work.

Through this programme, SME Corp and Microsoft Malaysia are both actively reaching out to Malaysian SMEs to help them adopt cloud solutions to drive both creativity and productivity in their businesses.

“The partnership was hailed as a significant achievement and an excellent example of a private-public partnership that moves forward the agenda towards achieving the government’s SME Masterplan,” said Pande.

Businesses of all sizes can reap the benefits of productivity and collaboration with Office 365. Microsoft says it can tailor the features of the suite to cater to any particular need. In its words, Microsoft is giving customers “Cloud On Your Terms”.

He said the bottom line is that going to the clouds enables SMEs to gain access to technology anytime, anywhere and on any device; saving time, money and energy.

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