How Much Is Your Comms Room Costing You?

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Simon Osman, CEO of iFollowOffice, discusses financially viable alternatives to the traditional comms room

When you’re running a business, you’re probably not giving your comms room that much thought. It’s supposed to be there to facilitate your operations, so you only really think about it when it fails; something that usually occurs far more than it should, but not enough that you’re forced to consider alternatives – or how much it’s really costing you.

The truth is outdated IT is holding your business back in ways you might never have considered – and if you make the transition to more modern, adaptable technological solutions, you will make huge savings in the process.

Easy implementation

The comms room survives because it’s seen as ‘part of the furniture’ – something that has been there for so long that people are a little afraid of what might happen if they got rid of it. Like a hoarder finally getting rid of years’ worth of old newspapers, the consequences are far less dramatic than they anticipated – and very positive on the whole.

Cloud platformIt helps that cloud technology makes it quicker and easier than ever to get up and running. With a comms room, setup fees can be prohibitively high. Individual servers are expensive, and the initial outlay required can be considered something of a sneak preview of the horrors to come. They also tend to be large and unwieldy, and require a fair amount of manpower to get into the comms room in the first place.

This isn’t a problem with the cloud; because nothing is hosted on your site, and if you go for a true-cloud solution, it won’t just be hosted in someone else’s either. This means setup fees tend to be negligible. Amazon Web Services (AWS), the industry leader, hasn’t implemented them at all. You only ever pay for what you use. It’s entirely possible to get the ball rolling with cloud technology 30 minutes after you first see the signup page.

Room to manoeuvre

Getting rid of your comms room gives you more room to manoeuvre as a business in several ways.

Firstly, the literal sense: you’ll just have a lot more room to manoeuvre. Most comms rooms fall victim to the law of entropy: even the ones that start out relatively small and well-organised eventually become an assortment of crammed racks and tangled cables. If you move everything to the cloud, all of this goes, and you can replace it with anything: office space for new employees; a new canteen; a recreation room – the possibilities are endless. Cloud technology enables you to maximise your office space and eliminate the amount of time and money spent keeping your comms room in good shape.

Secondly, you’ll find you have a more flexible approach to working on the whole. Employees aren’t satisfied with being chained to their desks anymore, and nor should they be: if they want to be able to work from a conference, or on public transport, it should be possible (they’re on your time, after all, and you want to help them help you make money). Cloud desktop technology makes it possible for employees to perform their job duties from anywhere – meaning they’ll never be far from the office, even when they’re thousands of miles away.

Controlling your costs

One of the more unfortunate by-products of comms rooms is the way they structure their offering. Most companies don’t maintain the same number of employees throughout their entire history: sometimes they grow exponentially, sometimes they downsize significantly, but more often than not the change will be less dramatic – an individual employee will need onboarding, or a couple will leave at the same time and the company won’t want to pay for their software licenses. Most standard providers can’t accommodate this: in order to get one new user on the system, they’ll ask for five or ten new licenses; in order to account for one user leaving, they’ll require a similar downscale in the opposite direction.

Cloud technology providers such as AWS enable licenses to be provided on a per user per month basis – meaning your IT will never be forced to outgrow your company. If you hire one new employee, you can buy one new licence.

Spare the comms room, spoil the budget

However much you save by getting rid of your comms room will depend on the nature of your business. In some respects, it isn’t about the hard figures as much as it is the broader philosophical change it brings to your workplace: with cloud technology, you will, on the whole, have a smarter, more efficient company – and in turn, attract more new business.

That said, one business owner saved £6,000 in IT expenditure – and a further £30,000 from not having to purchase a server – in only six months. So if you’re looking for short-term and long-term gains, moving to the cloud is in your best interest.

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