I’m sitting on cloud 9. Hey you, get off of my cloud. I don’t want to come back down from this cloud. For years, we’ve seen the clouds as a happy, safe place and to me it is an interesting paradox that the term has been used to describe Internet based computing as I rarely consider the Internet to be safe! However, Cloud Computing is obviously here to stay and, furthermore, the small business market has shown interest into migrating into it as fast as possible. There are a many reasons for this shift, but the two that really stand out are cost and functionality. In short, cloud computing enables a small business to have a Fortune 500 IT infrastructure for a small business budget.
What is cloud computing?
Wikipedia says that “cloud computing is Internet based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like a public utility.” This mouthful of buzzwords means that you are renting space and power on someone else’s computer systems. Think of cloud computing like renting an apartment. You have all the rights and responsibilities of owning the place, but ultimately, someone else is charged with making sure the building stays up and things get fixed. Another benefit is that you can rent a drawer, a room, an apartment or a building. You can even share with another company.
What can you do with it?
Anything you do with a server on-site can be done with a virtual server in the cloud. For example, most people already used a shared cloud service for SPAM prevention. Postini and SpamSoap are both cloud services that scan all incoming email for SPAM and viruses, then send it to your mail server. Because they are Internet based, they can also hold mail for you if the mail server goes down. Because they are a “highly available” web service, the servers are actually copied to several redundant servers so that the application is always available. This is an entry level cloud service.
Taken to the other extreme, you could theoretically rent an apartment building in a cloud and migrate all of your servers into an Internet based environment. You could then use dumb terminals to access the cloud-based resources. Instead of having expensive servers and workstations, you pay a monthly fee for your entire setup. In this example, there is no data in your offices; it’s all on the Internet. There are no backups to send away, it’s all handled by the cloud provider. There are no remote connectivity issues because it is ALL remote connectivity. You could be on your home computer and access your work desktop – just as if you were sitting at your desk. Believe it or not, this IS the future of computing and CNS is working toward making it a reality for our customers.
Where are the Fortune 500 features?
What happens when your server goes down? How about your Internet connection? Does your business suffer? Do your users sit around not doing important work? The Fortune 500 cannot afford that. Can Citibank allow a card processing server to be offline? Can Dell allow their ordering site to be down? While your company may not lose millions of dollars for every minute of downtime, apply some ratios and you begin to see some correlations. Software companies have spent billions on research and development to develop solutions for the Fortune 500, and now that they are a saturated market, they have set their sights on SMB’s. Pricing has come down across the board and SMB’s are now able to afford investing in this area. Can you imagine a solution that guards again a single component failure, a fire and a major natural disaster? It exists today and now SMB’s can take part in it.
How much does it cost again?
I wish I could stand here and give you a cost, but the reality is that every solution is different. What you can do it figure out what you want to test in the cloud and give me a call. I’m happy to work with you to move one or all services into the cloud. Will there be some costs, yes! There will be setup fees and monthly fees. You’ll probably spend as much as you would have by keeping it in-house, but think of all the benefits you get by moving it into the cloud. Imagine a world with no downtime. It could be yours!