Are You in the Cloud Yet?
Executives are still talking about moving to the cloud.
There is a big difference between storing information in the cloud, using a program or application that runs in the cloud, and going completely to workstation virtualization in the cloud.
Storing information in the cloud could be using Microsoft SkyDrive, Apple iCloud, Evernote, Dropbox, etc. Many executives use online backup such as Mozy, Carbonite, or CrashPlan.
Many companies are using applications that run in the cloud, referred to as SaaS Software as a Service. Popular examples include CRM products such as Microsoft Dynamics Live and SalesForce. GoogleDocs and Microsoft 365 are other common examples. If you aren’t paying another company to host your Exchange, you might should.
Using hosted virtualization may allow you to eliminate all servers from your organization. With this solution you pay a hosting provider a set fee per user each month and they handle everything your servers used to do for you. Additionally, the hosting provider generally provides additional services that you may have deemed too expensive in the past—such as generator power, strict physical security with armed guards, and servers with automatic failover if one server dies. And, you don’t ever have to worry about the servers again! In some models, the ones I recommend, the provider even keeps all of your licensing, including Microsoft licenses, up to date for you. No more worrying about buying licenses, no more servers, no more needing server support? Sign me up! Your organizational computers simply act as remote terminals but the feel like powerful computers. Your users can be on a laptop, desktop, Mac, tablet, etc. – it won’t matter that much. Think of LogMeIn or GoToMyPC on a grand scale.
There is a good chance that your organization uses a hybrid—mixing cloud services with your existing technology and that is fine. You may move more to the cloud, or not. The most important part of using the cloud properly is to increase returns, reduce costs, and improve both your users’ and customers’ experiences.