Cloud SaaS

Is cloud computing all hype?

CloudFor many cloud computing is a ominous revolution. In reality you’ve probably been using cloud computing for years. So what’s all the fuss about?

To attract uptake technology firms quote stunning return on investment figures and cloud computing isn’t an exception. Should you be cautious? Of course you should. There is no such thing as a silver bullet.

An IBM study suggests 81% of cloud pay back is achieved through hardware and labour savings. How can you hope to achieve this when a single organisation cannot hope to replicate the economies of scale, in hardware, software and staffing a cloud provider has at their disposal.

Think of it this way a client server model requires

  • You to purchase servers, workstations. The hardware needs to be managed and maintained and powered. An average server electricity consumption is £800 a year.
  • Backup, tapes, disks need to be setup then run and checked then stored off site. If you use online storage you are using the cloud.
  • A disaster recovery solution. I hope you have one?
  • Software licensing. 
  • Security software for servers, workstations.
  • Technical support staff.
  • VPN connection setup and maintained, laptops, tablets, mobile phones if you have remote work force.
  • Cost differentiations

A pure cloud solution means no servers, all you need are workstations with Internet connection. If you use Google Apps software licensing isn’t an issue although you should be aware it’s not all free. The downside no Internet connection you have no access to your work.  If you are a start-up or you intend to remain small Google Apps maybe all you ever need but you should be aware Google Apps compatibility issues with Microsoft can effect employee productivity. You should study and understand Google’s terms of service (TOS). Google’s TOS is structured under an exception model. So the Google TOS is parent (the TOS calls it universal), and all others sub TOS are exceptions (like Google Docs). What this means is that unless the sub agreements (like Google Docs), explicitly except sections of the TOS, then the primary TOS applies. You need to look at both “functions” and the TOS that governs that function.

No Internet connection – No access to your work?

Microsoft Office 365 cloud solution can be either pure cloud or hybrid. Why hybrid Microsoft recognised they are times when you are unable to connect to the internet. If you have a PC Microsoft Office application installed you have a local copy of your work which means you can continue to amend documents and when an online connection is re-established your revised documents will automatically sync.

Hybrid can also mean on premise servers are retained for example a financial services firm maintains a bespoke client data base containing regulated data but uses Microsoft Office 365 for other administration purposes. Having stated this governments are revising the law to allow cloud solutions. Most cloud providers will ensure regulated data is managed in such a manner to enable their clients’ complicacy.  

Can you test Microsoft cloud without signing up to Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft Office web apps is free but it isn’t a replacement for Microsoft Office 365. I suggest you use Google apps and Office web apps to learn if this technology is for you.

Google or Microsoft?

If you run an established business the chances are you own servers and workstations using Microsoft software. Provided there is a business case you can migrate servers to the cloud as and when a server replacement is required. You needn’t use Microsoft Office 365. You could consider a hosted server solution. A hosting company creates a virtual server installs the server software then migrates your data. Using a browser or Microsoft Terminal Services you can access your data. This solution is referred to as single tenancy (private cloud) usually used for bespoke application. Now fibre optic broadband is being rolled out this option is a serious replacement for on premise infrastructure.

Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365 are multi tenancy (public cloud) one copy of software used by many this doesn’t mean you can read or alter other organisations emails or work.

Google and Microsoft battle for market dominance has begun. Microsoft produced an entertaining

propaganda video that does make some good points but I urge you to keep an open mind. Google apps are a serious option and deserves your consideration in particular the total cost of ownership (TOC).    

Typically security and data ownership questions are paramount

My blog Data security and risk addresses many security concerns. Data ownership remains a contentious issue my blog article Legal issues to consider explains the current position. You should consider data compatibility if you wish to move between providers this might prove problematically. In time data standardisation will become the norm and customers will be able to easily move between providers in the same way you switch energy supplier.

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