Recently we have started to see an enormous amount of discussion on “Cloud Computing”, and that is what this edition of Emergination in Action is about. There is also a free podcast on Cloud Computing available at the Emergination website.
Cloud Computing offers the potential for businesses – particularly small and medium-sized businesses – to substantially reduce their IT costs, and increase the flexibility in providing software applications to their staff.
Read on to understand why...
“The function of good software is to make the complex appear to be simple.” – Grady Booch
A Definition of Cloud Computing
So what is it? I’m not a fan of Wikipedia’s definition so I have created my own:
Cloud computing is an internet technology that provides software and storage as a service without needing the knowledge of how to create and operate the infrastructure that supports it.
Information is securely stored on servers available via the internet and available from any computer at any location.
If I haven’t lost you yet… then let me explain it a bit further. Some people refer to this as software as a service or saas, some call it grid computing.
Whatever you may call it, let’s look at some of the practical ways in which Cloud Computing saves money:
- Don’t buy Microsoft Office software. Use Google Docs, or another hosted solution like Zoho instead
- Don’t buy Microsoft Exchange, use Google Mail or a hosted solution like Zimbra Mail
- Don’t buy a file server to put it all on. Use a service like DropBox instead
- Don’t buy MYOB and then worry about how to get your accountant access to your files. Get Saasu instead – great online accounting software (I swear by it)
- Don’t use lots of spreadsheets for timesheets. Use 88miles instead. Links to Saasu for easy billing
- Don’t buy an expensive desktop or laptop computer – buy an inexpensive one and use cloud services for everything
- Don’t buy expensive collaboration software. Get tools like Cubetree, Jive or Mediawiki instead
- Don’t buy local CRM software, consider Salesforce or SugarCRM instead
- Don’t put inexpensive phone lines, use VOIP such as Skype instead
How much can a business save? Plenty! A file server with backup tapes or drives can cost more than $10,000 and the software per machine will run to at least $500 per machine. Plus there are the support costs – the people costs are the largest. Google Apps for business can be as low as $900 per annum for 10 users. Buy software as you use it and don’t pay for it when you don’t.
What is a Private Cloud?
There are effective examples of private clouds. Those familiar with Citrix see how effective this can be – low-end computers can be used with all of the server power being used to take care of the processing. Hassle-free, and you can continue to use Microsoft or other network applications as you wish.
So what should you do?
- be aware that a lot of changes are coming into the cloud computing arena. Gartner has identified Cloud Computing as a hot technology area and one to watch out for
- considering giving some solutions a try in different parts of your business
- look at where the cost savings can be made
Cloud Computing can be part of a strategy to get your business to operate better than your competition.
Emergination has partnerships with providers of cloud solutions – from Google Apps to collaboration tools such as Jive or Cubetree, as well as our online business solution. Please contact us to see how we can help you.