It’s no secret the cloud has potential to be the great equalizer, but are all companies realizing the same benefit? Without the right approach to cloud, small- and mid-sized businesses may still come up short.

There are a number of challenges facing IT departments today, including the ongoing struggle between so-called “factory” tasks and enablement initiatives. The truth is, budgets and staffs aren’t keeping pace with the demands placed on them, and IT requirements are getting more sophisticated. IT teams now face the double challenge of keeping their companies on the cutting edge of technology while also managing the everyday systems that keep their workplaces humming.

This dilemma uncovers two major needs of today’s mid-sized business: the need for cloud-based solutions and the need for the right third-party solution provider to tie them all together. The cloud has become the great equalizer for many small- and mid-sized businesses, and the proliferation of suites like Office 365 underscores this fact as much as anything. But after these solutions are implemented, what do mid-sized companies do next?

Many of the professionals we talk to no longer view the applications they’re running and the data transport networks they need as separate components from their overall architecture. They view their mission critical systems and bandwidth as part of their IT ecosystem that must be carefully designed, procured and maintained for optimal performance and cost savings.

As a result of this shift to holistic thinking and planning, many IT service providers are adding capabilities and offering a broader range of services. Vendors that can view and tie into all aspects of their clients’ IT and data transport environments can offer their clients the wider vision and expertise to knit these systems and processes together.

Telecom network connectivity can’t be overlooked as the glue that binds together many disparate elements of a company’s IT infrastructure. Networks often must be optimized for latency and redundancy as more day-to-day “factory responsibilities” as well as enablement initiatives turn to the cloud. It becomes crucial that each element of the network be considered to create the optimal environment.

Read more on NEF CEO Mike Murphy’s recent LinkedIn Pulse post or talk with NEF today.

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