People in business and in technology have been talking about The Cloud for years now. For some, it is all about the cloud, and if you aren’t in The Cloud you are antiquated and out of touch. For others, the cloud is too insecure and unreliable. It pushes valuable information out somewhere where there is lack of control.
The cloud, as it relates to technology, is simply a means of moving some part of your technology away from sitting on a server or disk drive in your office to being out on the Internet. There are a variety of different packages and plans and means of putting things in the cloud. There are lots of pros and cons of going to the cloud with your technology and they should be considered carefully. For more on pros and cons, please request our article on the subject.
I recently attended a conference on the cloud, and they presented a parallel that represented a different perspective than I had heard before. The parallel that they used likened the cloud to electricity. In the early 1900’s, the infrastructure was not yet built to provide electricity to every home, farm, and business. Many farms and businesses used steam power, crude generators, and belt driven power to operate machines. As we progressed into the mid-1900’s, power was delivered to these areas in an affordable, pluggable form factor. As this occurred, the private means of generating power rapidly faded away.
Many technology experts believe this is the exact same shift we are seeing with computers, servers, and internal networks. The infrastructure for high speed internet is really evolving. It has become more affordable for even small businesses to get extremely fast connections to the Internet. This makes the speed barrier of having systems remote and far away in the cloud less constrictive. As a result, huge data centers are able to lease computing power, data storage, and other services in slices. Much like electricity, businesses can take advantage of this affordable, pluggable technology. There is less of a need to invest in large servers and computing power to put in your own building.
Is this parallel too simple? Is it completely accurate? The biggest difference in these two scenarios is that information is power and information sometimes is our biggest asset as a company. By plugging into an electrical outlet, there is no sharing of your corporate data. However, moving your corporate data to another location on equipment you are only leasing, does move that data one step further away from your control. This is a hurdle for some, but it is a hurdle that seems increasingly less important. More companies than ever are moving at least some core functionality to the cloud. Pricing and flexibility are just too attractive.
One of the newer flexible options in the cloud is to provision your desktop computing there. We have been talking about applications in the cloud, Saas, and hosting servers in the cloud for a long time. Now it is becoming practical to also host your desktops there. There are lots of different technologies that provide “virtual desktops”, but the idea is the same. For one monthly fee, your users can login into an alternate desktop in the cloud that has all of the programs and functions they need.
This can have its advantages. For one, all of your data stays in one place. Also, users can login into this desktop from anywhere (if you allow it). Now, of course you still need a device to get to your virtual desktop. However, all of the computing is going on in the cloud, so the local device can be very lightweight. For instance, a tablet, a ChromeBook, or some lower cost device.
How do you feel about the cloud? Will it become as commonplace as plugging into an electrical socket? Please contact us at CT if you would like to review cloud options and see if they might be right for your organization.