Increased Productivity Due to Telecommuting

In the global networked economy, work is performed everywhere, at any time and any place. That said, what are the operational benefits? Cisco set out to evaluate the social, economic and environmental impacts associated with allowing and actively enabling employees to telecommute.

Cisco announced the findings of its Teleworker Survey, an in-depth study of almost 2,000 company employees. The study, conducted to evaluate the social, economic and environmental impacts associated with telecommuting at Cisco, revealed that a majority of respondents experienced a significant increase in work-life flexibility, productivity and overall satisfaction as a result of their ability to work remotely.

Create a Sound Telecommuting Strategy
As the modern workforce continues to evolve and globalize, more companies are evaluating a telecommuting strategy to save costs and lower carbon emissions as well as to retain top talent.

For these companies, Cisco's survey highlights the gains that a sound telecommuting strategy provides for employees and employers alike.

Cisco is achieving new levels of efficiency and effectiveness by enabling people to work together no matter where they are located. In fact, according to Cisco's Internet Business Services Group, the company's global strategic consulting arm, the company has generated an estimated annual savings of $277 million in productivity by allowing employees to telecommute and telework.

Examples of Connectivity Solution Adoption
In addition, with the steady adoption of enterprise-class remote connectivity solutions like Cisco Virtual Office, the recently announced Cisco OfficeExtend, and virtual collaboration tools like Cisco WebEx, Cisco anticipates that employees and employers will continue to see a rise in the benefits associated with telecommuting.

Highlights from the study include the following:
  • Approximately 69 percent of the employees surveyed cited higher productivity when working remote, and 75 percent of those surveyed said the timeliness of their work improved.
  • By telecommuting, 83 percent of employees said their ability to communicate and collaborate with co-workers was the same as, if not better than, it was when working on-site.
  • 67 percent of survey respondents said their overall work quality improved when telecommuting.
  • An improved quality of life through telecommuting was cited by 80 percent of survey respondents.
  • Telecommuting can also lead to a higher employee retention rate, as more than 91 percent of respondents say telecommuting is somewhat or very important to their overall satisfaction.
How can your business benefit from these key insights? Bring your people and information together to reduce decision times and accelerate innovation. Develop a strategy to enable open, secure, adaptable enterprise collaboration that improves your company's creativity and velocity.
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Global Multi-tenant Service Provider Clouds

Multinational companies typically have more complex computing and networking technical support requirements, because their business technology applications can span over numerous locations with very diverse operations.

Business and IT leaders are currently exploring managed cloud service options, and they're comparing all new offerings from qualified service providers with international expertise.

BT, the UK-based provider of communications services, revealed that it will be launching a Virtual Data Centre (VDC) service in the coming months, supporting the needs large business and public sector organizations.

VDC provides a dynamic and virtualized infrastructure platform that enables their customers to consume IT and networking Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) -- it essentially forms the base for future cloud services.

BT says that VDC delivers the benefits of enterprise-class cloud computing to customers at a significant saving -- when compared with a standard hosted infrastructure deployment.

Appeal of Infrastructure as a Service
"Any Infrastructure as a Service offering that can provide a platform where organizations can scale their computing, network, and storage requirements in real-time, according to their needs, will have obvious appeal." said Roy Illsley, Senior Research Analyst at research company Butler Group.

Customers will be able to purchase virtualized components and access them over a pre-provisioned infrastructure. Virtual server, storage, security and networking capabilities will be available, automated and orchestrated through an online portal.

"BT is one of the very first movers in Europe with its Infrastructure as a Service offer and the only global provider that will be deploying this service across a vast network of data centers both in the UK and Europe," said Dustin Kehoe, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis.

"Other differentiators for BT include a strong central platform allowing customers to provision services on the fly and a solid professional services organization to support customers with higher end requirements."

Apparently, BT VDC is just one of a number of new offerings that will be announced by BT Global Services this year, focused on helping business customers achieve a competitive edge.

Demand for Cloud Internetworking
There's an emerging term used to describe hybrid scenarios -- when enterprise applications can seamlessly move between their internal and external clouds, leveraging the elasticity and multi-tenancy that a cloud infrastructure offers.

We'll be hearing more about the notion of a Virtual Private Inter-Cloud.

What's the primary benefit for your business? Cost reduction -- with a "pay as you grow" IT service. You eliminate capital investment and significantly reduce operational expenditure, while still maintaining secure control of your data.
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IT Power Users Will Lead the Way

Have you ever wondered if your company's utilization of Business Technology is in line with the creative market leaders? The Harvard Business Review recently published an interesting commentary by Susan Cramm entitled "How to Support Your IT Innovators."

Ms. Cramm believes that to realize the full potential from business technology, all enterprises need IT-smart business leaders -- up, down, and across the organization.

According to the results of her ongoing survey, however, business leaders apparently don't feel very smart about their IT adoption and application practices.
  • Only 11% personally use and fully leverage the capabilities of the technology currently in place.
  • 50% agree with the statement that "business leaders don't understand how to use their systems and technologies."
  • And, only 25% of business leaders consider themselves "IT-smart."
Liberate the Business Technology Innovators
One person she interviewed said "business groups that have somebody on their team who is an IT expert do much better -- in terms of leveraging technology to meet their needs -- than those who do not." While that may not be profound, it's a noteworthy comment.

Tech-savvy business users perform a valuable function for their less-informed peer group. They are able to determine what is truly possible, with current technology. Why? It's because power-users sometimes have better productivity enhancing tools in their home-based office than they do at their place of work.

How can this be possible? Well, IT managers focused on total control of all physical infrastructure are consumed by operational tasks and remedial user support activity. They have little or no time available to research, test and adopt the best-fit productivity tools for their business user needs.

Don’t Assume, Follow the Informed User
Moreover, there's often a major disconnect between what business users say they need, and what their IT team assumes they would apply. Most organizations use only 64 percent of their enterprise systems core functions, according to a recent Accenture survey.

"About half said they don't need all the capabilities, while a fifth explained that they didn't make use of all the functionality due to lack of time to learn how to apply them," said Accenture.

In summary, Ms. Cramm says that you should identify your lead users, give them more of what they really need, free up your IT team's time to study what they are doing (and why), and then decide how to standardize and scale the most promising innovations to benefit the whole enterprise.
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Demand for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service

Some market studies continue to identify confusion regarding the true meaning of cloud-based services, and the apparent benefits derived by the early-adopters. One recent example comes from a survey of financial professionals in the UK.

However, there is already growing demand from informed executive business and IT decision makers that are eager to move forward with various forms of cloud service deployments.

In fact, Forrester Research has embarked on a new "Cloud and Virtualization Survey Data" series that offers key insights on where the market demand is developing, and they also debunk several stereotypes.

According to Forrester's assessment, Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings, one of the three types of cloud services, is an area of cloud computing that currently receives the most market attention. It centers on two forms of capability: 1) pay-per-use hosting of virtual servers at an external cloud service provider, and 2) operating an internal cloud, where your IT department offers virtual servers-as-a-service.

Enterprise Will Lead the Momentum
Forrester reviewed their latest survey data and uncovered the following indicators of likely buyer interest in, and adoption of, these two forms of IaaS:
  • About 25% of all enterprises plan to adopt IaaS via an external service provider.
  • Firms are slightly less interested in internal clouds than they are in external IaaS.
  • Large business respondents report more awareness, interest, and adoption of external IaaS than small business -- they also report the same for internal clouds.
Forrester defines the three layers of the cloud services stack as follows:

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) - End user applications, delivered as a service rather than as on-premise software.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) - Application platform or middleware-as-a-service on which developers can build and operate custom applications.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) - Compute-, storage-, or other IT infrastructure-as-a-service, rather than as dedicated capability.

Once again, pay-per-use hosting of virtual servers and internal cloud are part of infrastructure-as-a-service.

Cloud Service Adoption Drivers
Forrester reached an interesting conclusion from their market assessment -- that's contrary to conventional wisdom regarding the initial demand for cloud services. Enterprises are leading the adoption, not small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). Moreover, they have different technology preferences and comfort levels with virtualization.

Forrester also believes that early adopters of IaaS service offerings are driven by the instant provisioning of servers and the pay-per-use pricing model. Furthermore, the enterprise IT operations buyers, unlike developer buyers, may want to integrate their on-premise infrastructure with anything they deploy to a service provider, either temporarily or permanently.
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Verizon Cloud-Based Computing as a Service

Verizon Business introduced an on-demand, cloud-based Computing as a Service (CaaS) solution -- designed to meet the stringent security and performance requirements of their enterprise customers.

This new offering helps businesses take advantage of cloud (IP-based) computing to more efficiently and securely manage IT computing resources -- server, network and storage -- to meet day-to-day business demands.

This CaaS solution, which leverages Verizon's global IP infrastructure and data centers, enables companies to use a Web-based portal to employ computing resources in the quantities and duration dictated by their own business needs.

As a result, businesses pay for the resources used and avoid having to build out for peak capacity requirements by buying new equipment and adding IT or networking staff.

Designed for mid-to-large-sized businesses, CaaS is ideal for new development projects, major events and migrations so that organization can easily and quickly shift IT resources as required.

Just-in-Time Computing Resources
It is also well suited for businesses with seasonal demands such as retailers, companies holding annual benefit enrollments or sales promotions that drive incremental traffic to Web sites. The service is immediately available in the U.S. and Europe, and then will be introduced to the Asia-Pacific region in August.

Verizon's Mike Marcellin explains in a video commentary some of the key features and benefits.

Melanie Posey, research director, hosting & telecom services at IDC said "Verizon has incorporated a number of key elements that make this solution a stand-out in the marketplace. The CaaS combination of flexibility, security, performance and resiliency is well positioned to serve certain enterprise requirements in a nimble, next-generation fashion."

Clearly, we can anticipate that the forward-looking managed and hosted service providers will continue to launch innovative new managed cloud service offerings that meet the selective IT out-tasking needs of their customers.
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