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Point: Cloud Computing - Imagine IT Simplified: Make the Best Use of Your Resources, Manage Your Data Effectively, Reduce Cost and Reclaim Time

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June 01, 2011
Phil Hall

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The concept of cloud computing has arrived in the hospitality industry.
So when will you get on board?

The benefits of cloud computing have placed it at the forefront of agendas at industry association conferences and trade shows.   Numerous educational articles have been published by industry consultants.  Product vendors have announced cloud readiness in many of their products, and hotel chains have declared success in moving applications off premise to private or public cloud facilities. The concept of cloud computing has arrived in the hospitality industry.  So when will you get on board?

Any technology investment must bring value to your business whether you are an international hotel chain or independent resort.  Your business drivers will vary, so a detailed analysis must be performed to identify your reasons for migrating to the cloud. They may be controlling up-front capital costs and expenses, or reduced business risks.  Other benefits include flexibility in computing power, increased agility, business process improvement, or reduction in your physical technology footprint.  The business values may include speed of implementation, reduction of maintenance fees, patch management or access to expanded technical skill sets by the service providers allowing you to focus on servicing your guests rather than maintaining on-premise technology.  The value that is typically associated with migrating to the cloud is cost benefits when comparing the on-premise alternatives, but many other benefits sometimes outweigh the cost-savings model.  Developing the business case and determining the strategy for creating a cloud migration roadmap will take time and effort and begins with your investigating the possibilities.

Select the Right Partner:  IT leaders need to find a partner firmly rooted in the realities of today’s IT.  That includes an understanding of the current challenges, a partner that can help you navigate the journey to the cloud. Many service providers have already done the work of figuring out how best to assess legacy technology.  Avail yourself of their experience, and understanding of the economics of cloud computing as you build your roadmap.

Know the Facts:  The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently revised its definition of cloud computing:  “Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.  This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models and four deployment models.” The five essential characteristics are: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and measured service.  The three service models are: cloud software as a service (SaaS), cloud platform as a service (PaaS), and cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS).  The four deployment models are: private cloud, community cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud.  Another information resource you will find valuable is a paper written by Professor Christopher S. Yoo released by the Technology Policy Institute titled, “Cloud Computing: Architectural and Policy Implications.”  There are many publications available as a starting point for commonality in concepts, terms and definitions.  It is important to a basic understanding between providers and yourself.

Study the Front Runners:  We are in the beginning stages for cloud migration in the hospitality industry, however other vertical markets have pioneered the heavy lifting, so there is a wealth of knowledge and experience from which to draw.  There are many articles that have been published.  Several major hospitality organizations are also developing the path and sharing the benefits as well as risks of cloud migration to their organizations.  At recent HTNG conferences, three presentations come to mind: Bill Peer of InterContinental Hotels Group, Nick Price of Mandarin Oriental Hotel group, and Vivek Shaiva of La Quinta Inns & Suites.  Three different hospitality companies, three different roadmaps, three industry leaders paving the way and providing their lessons learned.

Questions to Ask:  There is no question that a hotel is a very complex environment with many different applications required to run the business.  A cloud migration solution brings with it many interesting hospitality business questions that need to be asked and answered.  What applications can/should I consider migrating to the cloud?  What service provider should I select and what contractual issues do I need to consider?  How can I address the cloud concerns I keep hearing about with security and privacy, performance, technological immaturity and regulatory compliance?  What service or deployment model will best serve my needs?  These vary widely by application and can often be considered independently.

While there may be some hurdles to cloud adoption today the fact remains that the hospitality industry is beginning to embrace this direction.  Industry associations, product vendors, service providers and industry consultants are all preparing for this evolution.  The question to ask now is how I will prepare my business for this technology.  The future won’t happen overnight but there is no time like the present to begin defining the path.
So, look at market, review your applications, and check your options.  It is not a question of whether you will embrace cloud computing, just when, how and where you will best put it to use.

©2011 Hospitality Upgrade
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