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Start-ups offer cool tools to ease IT's pain

Sandra Gittlen | Feb. 16, 2011
If you want to know what IT tools and technologies you'll be using in a few years, it pays to keep an eye on enterprise technology start-ups.

Conceivably, IT teams could demo multiple vendors' wares simultaneously, speeding the decision-making and ultimately the deployment process.

Julie Craig, research director at EMA, says cloud-based proofs of concept are highly beneficial for IT. "Companies that can do proof of concept in the cloud can save the consuming companies millions of dollars in hardware investments. They also can provide the complex technology engineering and related staff, which can be difficult to find," she says. And once the IT team at the customer company provisions its cloud-based environment, these resources are available to them anywhere, anytime, she adds.

At a glance

Company: CloudShare

Enterprise product: CloudShare Enterprise

Pricing: Starts at $500 per month and is based on price per 1GB RAM per month.

Funded by: Charles River Ventures, Gemini Capital and Sequoia Capital.

Kra-Oz says this is not only a benefit for IT departments, but also for the vendors themselves, since they don't have to commit their best engineers to travel from site to site. Instead, they can work with several sales prospects from any location, which alleviates the wear and tear that comes with travel. "Rather than having to set up each site visit, the engineer can reuse parts of the network configurations," Kra-Oz says.

Proofs of concept are not the only use Kra-Oz sees for CloudShare. He says the environment is also suitable for interactive training among distributed IT teams. For instance, if a company is installing a new ERP system, IT staff can use the cloud-based model to familiarize themselves with the software's features. This saves companies from having to fly in employees and carve out a part of the network for testing. CloudShare lets IT get to know the environment, get feedback from users, and identify potential problems before products and their supporting infrastructures are purchased and brought on-site, Kra-Oz says.

Planning ahead

As IT departments head deeper into 2011, many no doubt will be looking for new technologies that speed deployment cycles, help protect their current investments in mobile technology, and avoid costly hardware and software investments. And that means cloud. Enterprise Strategy Group's 2011 IT Spending Intentions Survey, for instance, found that organizations in cost reduction/containment mode indicated a significant increase in their willingness to consider cloud computing services or SaaS as a way to control IT costs in 2011.

However, experts warn IT to proceed with caution. EMA's Crawford says companies should take the time to examine the risks involved with handing data over to a third-party cloud or SaaS provider, and to learn as much as possible about how they protect data and where the provider's responsibility for security ends and the customer's begins.

 

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