Don't let the Hype Cloud your Judgement
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Cloud computing is up there with some of the biggest changes to hit the IT industry in recent years, along with the consumerisation of IT, the new generation of connected applications, and Big Data.
It’s also become a source of some pretty big misperceptions, and I do agree with TSG’s COO Steve Cox when he talks about how buzz words such as Cloud or ‘BYOD’ have done much to bring mass confusion to the IT industry and that the full range of advantages (and disadvantages) can often be overlooked or misunderstood as a result.
You can laugh at stats like 51% of people in a Citrix survey believed that Cloud computing is affected by the weather conditions, but that just goes to show as an industry we need to make a better job of educating users.
Many of us have been using Cloud for a while – whenever we sent an email, logged onto our internet banking, or uploaded a photo. You can access any of these things from anywhere, using different devices, and that’s what the Cloud really is. It’s not complex or scary when you look at it, but as an industry we have done a good job of persuading you otherwise.
In its simplest terms, if you add an appointment to your calendar on one device and it shows on another; that’s made possible thanks to the Cloud.
Cloud can conjure up the notion that you have to put your data high up in the sky (which probably doesn’t help the common perception that data in the Cloud is out of reach). In reality, the Cloud is all around us – it allows us to access data services and apps remotely.
Granted, using the Cloud to send an email is an entirely different kettle of fish to putting your entire business data in it. There are a lot of things to consider before you do this, which again has added to some of the confusion. Cloud is best understood after you’ve taken a step back from it, and instead look at what your business needs, how it operates, and what you’re most comfortable with.
For example - are you a start-up that could benefit from low set up costs and subscription payments? Are you at the point where your on premise servers are due a refresh and therefore it makes sense to review your infrastructure requirements? Are you planning a rapid expansion which will stretch the limits of your server? Is staff mobility becoming increasingly important to the way you run your business? There are lots of things to consider within your business before making the leap, so talking to an IT partner you trust is key (TSG offer a Cloud Readiness Assessment).
Also important to consider is system scalability, and, most importantly, connectivity. The amount of data we consume, analyse and send out is stratospheric today. If there’s an issue with your connectivity, this will affect how your business operates if you’re using the Cloud. And will the IT solutions you need today cope with future demands as business grows?
In terms of where Microsoft’s head is at, we now live in an era of many devices. 10 billion devices are tapping into the internet as we speak – so that’s a lot of people who are using more than one. And applications need to work seamlessly from PCs to phones to tablets since we’re using most of these at any given time.
It’s the mantra that we have for our Windows operating system – ‘One experience. On every device. For everything in your life.’ Here’s a video which explains a little more:
What pushes Microsoft forward is the way that our users access their devices – touch, swipe, click and share. And the huge amount of data that feeds and enables these modern applications through the cloud needs to be managed in a simple way, so that you can control who is using devices in your company, who is tapping into your network, and how to spot and deal with unwelcome visitors.
In a world where more and more people are working from different locations and need access not just 9-5 but 24/7, collaboration is key. That’s why one of our focusses in Office 365, a Cloud based application, is document sharing - stay in sync when you're working on files together, keep up to date with everyone's changes in the same document, even if changes are made at the same time.
And, most importantly, set access rules so you’re aware of who has sight of what.
Cloud computing allows us to do more, share more, and collaborate more. We’re now starting to see more and more businesses becoming increasingly interested in the benefits of the Cloud.
But before you even mention the word Cloud in your organisation, speak to an advisor you trust so they can help you work out the ‘if, when and how’ to ensure that the right technology fits in the right places for your business.