As part of our look ahead to EHI Live in November, today's guest blog post is by Marcel Bonfrer of the IM Group - one of our great partners who will be at EHI Live...

You can’t open a magazine or e-mail without reading about the Cloud. The Cloud has been around for a long time, but why is it now that you can’t escape from its presence?

I think there are two main reasons: an economic one and the rise in end user expectations.

The economic reason is all about the current climate of doom and gloom in which we live. Budgets are cut, staff are sacked and we are all asked to do more with less. Forrester suggest that between 70% and 80% of IT budgets are used to keep the lights on and keep the systems running and only 30%-20% are used for innovation.  In my conversations with CIO’s and IT Directors, not many dispute this figure.  Everyone agrees that effort should be spent on reversing this trend and ensure that organisations can spend more on innovation and less on keeping the systems running.

A few months ago, I had the privilege to be in a presentation where Liam Maxwell, ICT Futures Programme Director of the UK Cabinet Office, announced that the IT spend for the Public Sector in 2011 was £26B. The government would like to bring this down to £8B in 2015.

One of the ways the Government is trying to achieve this is by moving IT to the Cloud and this was the main driver behind the introduction of the G-Cloud.  The G-Cloud is the new framework from which public sector organisations can buy their Cloud services without lengthy and expensive tender processes.  

The other factor for rapid growth in Cloud services is the rise in Customer expectations. The smart phone has redefined personal productivity – giving us apps that make management of our personal lives easy and compelling with access anywhere, anytime based on the principle ‘pay as you go’ and not all up front. Furthermore end users want to communicate and collaborate with each other whenever possible on whatever device.

Both factors are underpinning the huge demand for Cloud services. Now, if we talk about Cloud services, then we can distinguish, in general, two types of Cloud services: the Public Cloud and Private Cloud.

Without going into too much detail, the public cloud provides you with shared computer power and storage and the private cloud provides you with single access (your organisation only) to computer power and storage.

So from a cost perspective, it would be more economic to use the public cloud as often as possible, because it will be so much cheaper. This now leaves us with the question of when to use a Public Cloud Solution and when to use a Private Cloud solution?

I think it is all about finding the right balance between guaranteeing the security of the information and authentication of users. If you can safeguard both of them to a satisfactory level, I believe there is not much in the way (other than pure regulation) to start utilising the Public Cloud in an increasing matter.

During the EHI 2012, IMGROUP Online will be able to demonstrate the full suite of Office 365 including how to achieve Single Sign On and ways of protecting sensitive data. I believe that we can remove a lot of perceived barriers and show why an increasing number of organisations within the NHS like the West Midlands Ambulance Service and the Care Quality Commission are adopting the Office 365 solution from Microsoft.


By Marcel Bonfrer, IM Group