Cloud computing

  1. The IT industry needs ‘something new’ to keep itself fed. As most of us actually don’t need any more computing power now than was available in 2003 (or before), cloud computing is new new big hope – an opportunity for new players to muscle in, necessitating a fight back by the old guard
  2. If your internet connectivity is slow, forget it
  3. Consider how your business will be effected when your phone line fails leaving you internet-less (we all know it will happen at some point, whether a ‘problem at the exchange’ or a clumsy so-and-so with a digger). What would be the cost to you of no one being able to do any work for a day? Or a fortnight? Not bare thinking about. Then ensure there is a work around
  4. Free is not necessarily free. For example, Google are as capitalist as any organisation out there. They may not ask for you cash directly, but your data, directly or indirectly, provides them with the ‘stock’ they collect to monetise and sell – being information. It may be anonymised, but some still see this as a pact with the devil. Just go into it with your eyes open.
  5. Free is often ‘freemium’, like the first free sample given of an illegal drug from the dealer, designed to get you hooked and soon paying for the ‘good stuff’
  6. Having said all this, some cloud offerings are refreshingly straight-forward. Things like Microsoft Exchange, the engine of so many email systems has become more and more complex and expensive to set-up and run. In contrast, a shift to Gmail is easy and seems to me to deliver far more, with far less hassle. Many other online versions are ‘cut-down, but if you don’t need those facilities, so what. If you do…
  7. Beware of inertia. Many business models requiring monthly payment (as paid for cloud-computing does) gain heavily on inertia – that thing where you sign up, but soon stop using the service but never quite get around to cancelling. Do not let this be you, the idea is to reduce your costs, not increase them to no benefit.
  8. Consider your needs and that of your team. If you use multiple devices (desktop, laptop, iPad, phone) cloud can be really useful (Dropbox for example). But if you are all desk and office bound, it may work just as well to run a NAS* device – you may not even need a power-hungry, noisy server any more
  9. Product offerings are evolving very rapidly, we are back to the wild-west early days of the PC. So the ‘best’ offering today may well not be leader next month. In which case, pick the horse you trust firstly to stay in the race and secondly to carry on improving their offering. The last thing you want is to complete a migration only for your provider to decide to withdraw from the market
  10. Don’t be afraid to mix and match – there is nothing wrong necessarily with, for example, using Google for email but preferring Microsoft for documents and Apple for something else

*NAS, Network Attached Storage

Next topic – Why Gmail is better than Exchange