When we talk about someone being “in the clouds” it often has a bad connotation, as if one is not planted squarely on the ground and not aware or engaged with one’s surroundings. But when applied to business, what a difference an expression can make! Being “in the clouds” is incumbent on organizations today because unlike most any other type of technology cloud computing has dramatically changed the way they invest in, consume, and deliver that technology. In other words your company needs to be “in the clouds” if it’s going to succeed in the digital era.
In the last segment we looked at how storage and email and office tools are some of the first points of entry for migration to the cloud. Let’s continue that discussion by looking at other ways small businesses can get the most out of the cloud.
Everything seems to be going the way of the cloud and so why not your company’s production data as well? Traditional on premise data warehouses solutions are expensive and so it’s not surprising that this area was ripe for disruption via cloud-based solutions. Companies like Rackspace offer database solutions for MySQL hosted in the cloud, in addition to any other cloud solution – hosting, networking, app building, etc. – that your business would need. Amazon Redshift is another cloud hosted data warehouse that offers highly scalable and cost efficient ways to analyze company data using existing business intelligence tools. With the massive growth of Big Data in recent years, these are just a small sampling of the growing field of cloud-based data warehouse solutions that enable small businesses ways to scale up, store, and analyze their data without the prohibitive costs of large on premise resources.
Desktop virtualization, or the practice of hosting desktops as virtual machines on a server, has been in use for years and has helped IT to manage and secure desktop user environments in one central location. With the advance of the cloud, it’s now a logical step for small businesses to save on hardware expenses, maintenance, and other hassles by offloading these over to cloud-based virtual desktop providers. This new cloud service model is often referred to by the expression Desktop as a Service, or DaaS.
The advantage of virtual desktops is that they can be tailored to end-user needs and as headcount increases more can be created for a modest fee. Solutions such as Cloud My Office provide end users with a fully customized Windows virtual desktop environment that is cloud hosted and maintained without the headache of hardware installations and standalone software. dinCloud is another provider that offers a private virtual data center (server, firewall, security, application hosting, ect.) along with co-managed services (help desk, software distribution, provisioning, and data center management).
Another area that has become ripe for innovation in the cloud age has been project management. With the growth in collaboration tools and resources, organizations have realized that proper PM is critical. Without it workflows will get muddled, employees and customers frustrated, and deliverables delayed – ultimately resulting in lost revenue and negative impacts on brand reputation. Many cloud-based solutions have sprung up in recent years, offering project management resources and tools all under one roof. Basecamp, one of the world’s most popular cloud PM solutions, offers a fully integrated project management environment comprised of to-do lists, wiki-style web-based text documents, milestone management, file sharing, time tracking, and a messaging system. Trello and Asana are other cloud-based solutions for task and project management, with the latter focused on innovatively eliminating email as the basis for cross-collaboration.
Join us in part 4 as we discuss more ways to get your business “in the clouds.”