Moving Your Systems to the Cloud

The IT industry is promoting Software as a Service and online applications as the new normal for computing, and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you have heard how it is supposed to make our computing lives ever so much better.  Hiding under that rock might also have spared you from reading about the various failures and outages which impact users, forcing them to make do without the online applications and data they have become so reliant upon.  It’s surprising, but not unimaginable, that businesses rely so heavily on applications and services that didn’t even exist a few short years ago.

The potential benefits of a SaaS model are many, but the risks are equally significant and should not be minimized.  This assessment should center on a review of the application software in use, considering whether or not it is meeting the needs of the business.  Where and how the software runs is much less of an issue than the functionality and process support it provides – most “legacy” applications can be run in a cloud server environment, making remote access and managed service part of the service model.

There is risk in changing business applications – risk of data loss, changed or broken data relationships, lost productivity, and more.  Many businesses would benefit by running their applications in a cloud model while continuing to utilize the software solutions their operation relies on.

Application hosting models where desktop applications are delivered on cloud servers is  often overlooked when businesses go looking for cloud software because they are shopping for software and not the platform.

With Software as a Service (SaaS), the software and the platform are combined and together represent the solution. With application hosting on a cloud server, the software is the same software a business would traditionally run on PCs and servers, but the they are installed and managed on the cloud server rather than the local computers.

The big benefit is the agility of the platform and the user mobility it allows.  The unspoken benefit is that you can still “take your ball and go home” if the service doesn’t work out.

Removing the barriers for adopting an online working model allows the business to experience the benefits attached to cloud computing without introducing unnecessary risk through unneeded changes in software and applications.

Make sense?



Moving to the Cloud While Retaining Your Investment in People, Process and Business Knowledge

Moving to the Cloud While Retaining Your Investment in People, Process and Business Knowledge

cloud-businessWhen businesses consider moving their information technology to the “cloud”, the problem is often approached with a thought that things will have to change dramatically in order to achieve a fully online working model.  In many cases, business owners are left believing that any business use of cloud technologies is the equivalent of changing software and systems over to SaaS solutions, enabling the much-desired anytime/anywhere working model.  What too many businesses aren’t being told is that there are a variety of ways to move to the cloud, and changing software and systems isn’t necessarily a prerequisite.

The benefits of a cloud computing model are many, with mobility and managed service being the most obvious.  Less evident are the potential cost savings, because the subscription approach to paying for IT services may, on the surface, look like an equivalent or even higher cost over time.  What isn’t being factored in to the cost (savings?) is the potential to improve processes and increase productivity.  These benefits are often achieved simply due to a centralized management and access approach, and are not necessarily attributable to the adoption of new software tools.

For many businesses, the cloud is the right answer for deploying and managing IT and should be considered first, before changing out the software and tools in use throughout the organization.   This approach has been widely adopted by businesses using Microsoft Exchange messaging solutions, where in-house Exchange servers are being replaced by outsourced Exchange providers and users experience the same functionality but with far better uptime and protection.  The same approach is working for businesses electing to move their in-house business software and systems to the cloud, engaging with application hosting providers to install and manage existing desktop and network applications and to secure business data on the host.  Users are able to access their native desktop applications via the cloud, allowing businesses to retain their investments in people, processes, and business knowledge.

Purists may contend that hosting of desktop applications is not truly “cloud”, but the terminology is far less important than the benefits businesses can achieve with a hosted application approach. For most folks, the “cloud” refers to Internet-based solutions and software delivered as a subscription service.   When desktop applications are deployed on remote servers and the environment is managed and protected by the service provider, it is pretty much a cloud solution.

Particularly as Microsoft and others continue to move away from packaged all-inclusive solutions for local installation, small businesses are finding that the cloud, hosted applications and remote access provide the answers to a variety of business IT problems.  Even more, those answers are being provided affordably, with a simplicity of setup not previously available, and with higher levels of service than was reasonably available with localized IT.

Information technology professionals at all levels are now recognizing that their small business and enterprise clients can experience many benefits with a cloud hosted and managed IT approach.  It doesn’t take a comprehensive application or process overhaul to begin improving internal IT operations for the business.  It makes no sense for a business to give up investments in training, process development, and people knowledge in exchange for a centrally managed and remotely accessible system.  Rather, the smart business takes the steps to solve the real issues of IT management and mobility while allowing users to continue performing their tasks and doing business as usual – only better  because the IT is now working for them.

Make sense?