Where is this Cloud they speak of?

July 19th, 2011

By Larry Velez, CTO

Microsoft wants us all to move “to the cloud” but does not explain where that is, what it looks like, or how to get there.

Let’s follow the evolution of business technology:

    You had gear in your office. You had people on staff to manage it.
    You had gear in your office. You had one person on staff and a company consulting.
    You had gear in your office. You outsourced support of your gear.
    You go to cloud and you have reached nirvana?

We say hold on…didn’t we miss a few steps?

For 25 years, all software and hardware companies assumed that their value would be delivered from hardware in your office. Now, in only 5 years, all that has changed?

We think the change will take a bit longer.

While we believe that some of today’s cloud technologies can add value to your organization and more complete cloud solutions are likely in the future, the pace at which the cloud vendors and the marketing departments of technology companies want us to move there is a bit optimistic.

Sinu thinks the healthy approach to the cloud is a phased approach where a larger percentage of your technology goes “to the cloud” every year starting now.

    Phase 1 – The First 25%: Proven cost savings and functionality.

    Communication, redundant backup, customer management, email marketing, phones, remote access, antispam, antivirus are the low hanging fruit on the road to the cloud. These are systems that are focused on communication or access from outside your office with little to no dependencies to systems internal to your company. They add more value when outside your company and usually work more reliably at high-end data centers with 24-hour staff. These companies often have the best facilities and technology, and are fully dedicated to keeping the infrastructure running smoothly.

    Phase 2 – The next 25%: Opportunities to increase functionality and lower cost.

    When reviewing your business solutions, keep an open mind on SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) versions of the applications you use (accounting, operation management, customer management). While at times SaaS solutions might only have 80-90% of the functionality of their traditional internally installed cousins, you will be rewarded each quarter with improved functionality, higher availability, increased mobility and lower hardware and support costs. These will be a little more work than the first batch of business solutions, mostly because of the transition of legacy data and updates of integrations with other systems.

    Phase 3 – The Three-Quarter Mark: Circa 2014.

    At this point Google, Facebook and other cloud companies have been joined by Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, and many other traditional software companies. These companies have had some time to retool their offerings and create smooth paths from their legacy systems to new social, connected, SaaS versions of their offerings.

    Phase 4 – 100% Cloud?

    Whether we ever get to this cloud nirvana is too soon to predict. The technologies and businesses that will be disrupting the business world are not yet glimmers in the eye of tomorrow’s Page, Brin and Zuckerbergs. We can’t imagine today how we will be working differently tomorrow but, with a foot firmly on the cloud side, your business will be better positioned to have the agility, resources and scalability needed to be effective in tomorrow’s business world.

We say get on the cloud road, plan it out well, and phase it in as appropriate to your business goals and you will be rewarded every step of the way.