The past few decades have seen a dramatic growth of both the machine computing power of as well as the overall strength of networks. Widespread and increasing usage of mobile devices has also contributed to the need of having a centralized access to data over the internet. Moving from mainframe machines to client server architectures to cloud hosting with its service oriented architecture should therefore be seen as a purely logical step in the technological evolution.
Consequently, to cloud or not to cloud - is not really the question companies should be asking themselves. The technology should definitely be embraced, however, in what way and why remains to be determined.
Cloud hosting has a number of advantages. For starters, cloud based solutions ensures simpler and less costly deployment, it implies lower IT staff costs in terms of on-premises know-how, and lower CAPEX either through effectively sharing computing resources across multiple units and/or through SaaS (Software as a Service) charge models.
Another potential benefit, which could however become a foe if not managed carefully, is greater data security as opposed to that provided by on-property systems. Choosing a highly professional supplier/partner is therefore vital. Strong SLA with clearly defined terms and conditions with regards to customer support and responsiveness as well as data encryption, data access, usage, maintenance and distribution standards should be given enough time and attention. Proven record of compliance to national and international legal requirements could serve as a good indicator of service provider’s reliability.
Despite the above mentioned advantages, we strongly believe that the cloud should not be seen as a universal integration remedy but rather as a powerful tool for centralizing and securing mission-critical data. Especially in the hospitality industry, where companies often find themselves operating in very different legal, technological and cultural environments, the possibility of employing hybrid solutions is critical in order to manage this complexity/heterogeneity while exploring various strategic business options.
Let us explain. Say you are a successful German hotel chain willing to open a new property in, for example, Maldives, where the internet connection is by far not as reliable as in your homeland. Add to that local owner’s potential resistance to data sharing, the likely variance in legislation and the success of the entire migration to cloud hosting project is in jeopardy. In this case you would need to follow an IT Strategy catering for both cloud based and decentralized processing, which still supports your business objectives.
Therefore before deploying cloud solutions on a major scale, it is essential to understand all the possible implications on the complexity of future infrastructure and the integration limitations it may have on the corporate growth strategy.
Anton Hell, Managing Director
Darja Gogunova, Consultant
hit-CONSULT GmbH, Berlin, Germany