The growing prevalence of cloud computing has driven astronomical growth in the amount of data center traffic passing through networks. A 2011 survey projects this traffic to hit 468 Exabytes in 2016. To put that in context, worldwide Internet traffic surpassed one Exabyte for the first time in 2003.
The fuel behind this widespread adoption is cloud computing’s cost-effectiveness. With a “pay only for what you use” pricing structure, midsize companies can ramp up or down with minimal startup costs. In addition, there are tax benefits to having cloud computing as an operating expense, rather than a capital expenditure.
However, one factor stands in the way for many businesses — an outdated network infrastructure that is unable to operate efficiently using cloud-based systems.
Smart Business spoke with Kevin Conmy, regional vice president, Business Services, at Comcast Business, about how businesses can use Ethernet to maximize cloud computing, and the competitive advantage it brings.
Why are some companies unable or slow to take full advantage of the cloud’s potential?
The first hurdle to get over is the trust factor. Business owners are hesitant to hand over sensitive information and transactions to a third party. But as the use of cloud applications becomes widespread and the ease of the applications themselves make them harder to resist, more and more companies are jumping on board.
The second obstacle is often the company’s network and whether they are using the public Internet or a private Ethernet.
While a public Internet service is cost-effective and accessible from just about anywhere, the flipside to that is increased security risks that are a very credible concern.
Latency — the time it takes for data to make a round trip between two points, such as from your office to the data center where the cloud application is hosted and back — is another problem when using a public connection. Some applications, such as email, can tolerate longer latency, but others like video, are latency-intolerant.
How is private connectivity, Ethernet, better matched to cloud services?
For mission-critical applications hosted at a data center or cloud provider, private connectivity provides secure, high availability and low-latency access.
Ethernet technology, which has been around for 40 years, has become the de facto technology in offices around the world, linking computers and servers together in a high-speed local area network (LAN). A metropolitan area network (MAN) can link computers over a larger area, like between buildings in a metro area, with low latency.
One service provider manages the Ethernet traffic and applications within the private network, resulting in better security and performance. Companies still have the ability to integrate Internet traffic, but the low latency causes remote offices, and even those applications hosted in third-party data centers, to feel like they are on the LAN.
Data centers and cloud providers generally don’t provide dedicated network infrastructure with their cloud offerings, but they are reporting that clients are increasingly purchasing dedicated high-speed fiber connections from separate service providers for accessing these cloud services.
Do businesses leaders understand how important it is to have the right network services?
A recent CIO/Computerworld survey found that 70 percent of IT executives considered reliable, high-capacity bandwidth as a transformational or strategic asset, up from 42 percent two years ago. The majority of respondents believe high-performance connectivity increases productivity and efficiency. It’s clear that business owners increasingly view high-performance network services as a prerequisite for future growth. ●
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The restaurant and bar industry is highly competitive, and many owners struggle every day to stay in business. The right technology can help restaurants and bars gain an edge, while improving back-office operations and guest experience.
Recently, Comcast Business conducted a poll of LinkedIn members in the hospitality industry. Of the more than 700 respondents, 31 percent said technology was setting them up for success, the second-highest response.
Smart Business spoke with Kevin Conmy, regional vice president of business services at Comcast Business, about how technology and the Internet can be the keys to evolving a restaurant or bar from struggling to thriving.
What technology is driving new efficiencies for back-end operations?
Multiple generations often operate family-owned restaurants and bars. Older-generation owners may prefer traditional, paper-based methods to take customer orders, track time and inventory, and pay employees. However, these businesses often lose money without understanding why.
Fortunately, many software packages and systems are specifically designed to bring the business a level of automation and help operations run more smoothly. Owners can automatically re-order items when supplies get low with real-time inventory management systems, preventing shortages of key ingredients and minimizing over-ordering. They can order food and make supplier payments directly online, making accounts payable faster and easier. Online time cards and schedule management software can improve employee management and allow servers to log in to a secure site to see their schedules with updated changes. The system can deliver announcements to quickly communicate important information, such as menu changes, to the entire staff.
Technology also allows tablets and other mobile devices to send orders immediately to the kitchen. Orders move faster with fewer errors.
How can owners improve guest experiences?
Consumers today are constantly using their smartphones, tablets or laptops. They want a fast connection to watch videos, update social media accounts or do a live video chat right at the table. Restaurants and bars can differentiate themselves with fast wireless Internet service. Having a sign that says ‘We have Wi-Fi’ brings people in and keeps them coming back. To support this, you must have a high-capacity connection out to the Internet that supports the Wi-Fi network.
Technology is also transforming how guests order and pay with tableside touch-screens. One-click ordering leads to more food and drink orders. The bill payment delivers tips directly into a server’s account.
How does cloud technology help restaurant and bar owners?
Many of these technology solutions are stored and operated ‘in the cloud’ so owners simply pay for the service and log onto a website to access the software. Then, there is no need to upgrade software or keep a server on site. Plus, the system can be accessed from any Internet connection, allowing owners to keep eyes on their businesses whenever or wherever. They also don’t have to be technology experts to use these tools, freeing up more time to manage the restaurant or bar.
And with data stored elsewhere, owners don’t have to worry about losing information because of a technical issue, theft or fire/flood damage.
However, the key to cloud-based systems is access. Businesses need fast, reliable Internet access to get online, so cloud-based systems work quickly and reliably.
What are the first steps to getting started?
Restaurants and bars need to start planning now to shift to technology-based systems and amenities. First, stay ahead of the bandwidth curve by ensuring you have a fast enough Internet connection to meet your needs today and tomorrow. Once you have a high-speed network connection out to the Internet, you can purchase cloud-based software systems or Wi-Fi access points.
Business owners also might consider bundling Internet, phone and television with one provider, so there’s only one place to call for assistance, and one bill to pay.
To enjoy the benefits of these technology tools, restaurants and bars need to embrace them now, or risk being left behind.
Kevin Conmy is a regional vice president, Business Services, at Comcast Business. Reach him at (215) 642-6457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Comcast Business solutions or contact your local account executive.
Insights Telecommunications is brought to you by Comcast Business