5 Ways Cloud Computing Will Affect Your Business in 2011

Cloud computing will increase concerns with handling data, mobile and broadband speeds.
Posted November 29, 2010
By

Jeff Vance

Jeff Vance


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1. Top tech companies will make sure you start moving to cloud computing

With the launch of Windows 7 and Windows Live, Microsoft is betting heavily on the cloud. Cloud services and cloud storage form the background of Office synching, file sharing, collaboration, rich media and more.

Windows 7 means that even companies that have been sitting out the cloud transition are now a few short steps away from relying on the cloud each and every day. Most organizations, though, have already adopted the cloud, usually in a slow, application-by-application fashion.

Of course, many industry watchers consider many of the new features in Windows 7 as a direct response to the rise of Google.

“Until Google started giving out gigabyte mail boxes through Gmail, everybody was still stuck with their 10 MB inboxes. Google really understood the flexibility in online storage of documents, which can be shared easily with others. It is this very idea which is being repackaged by everybody, including Microsoft,” said Puneet Yamparala, a product manager with Apptivo, a provider of SMB-focused SaaS solutions.

What this means for U.S. businesses is that the cloud is coming, if it’s not already here. If you don’t develop your own in-house initiatives, the tech vendors you rely on will slowly but surely push you into the cloud.

2. You’ll need to worry about synching data again

Data synchronization is one of those things that most of us thought would be solved by now. Yet, anyone in IT can tell you that sync is a much peskier problem than it appears on the surface.

Today, most of us sync data in an easy, yet somewhat problematic way: through USB drives. That’s great if you are the only person working on the document, and if you never misplace the USB drive. All it takes, though, is losing that one thumb drive that contains sensitive corporate IP for your sync method of choice to give you serious headaches.

One of the main benefits of cloud-based applications is that they remove the need for manually synching data between various devices, folders and files, while also making it possible for various employees to collaborate on the same files with data always up to date. The reality, though, is that cloud-based apps will only solve some of the average knowledge workers’ sync needs. Device-side data will be around for years to come, and keeping that information in sync is no easy feat.

One of the strengths of Windows 7 is that it makes synching easy. Windows Live Mesh lets users keep folders and files in sync via the cloud or through P2P connections. Where Windows 7 drops the ball, though, is with mobile. Synching Windows 7 files to a smart phone still requires a workaround (many of us turn once again to Google, using Gmail for synching email, contacts and calendars and Google Docs for other files) or third-party solutions.

Mac users benefit from having MobileMe sync to both iPhones and iPads, but MobileMe was buggy in its early versions, driving away many early adopters, and at $99/year, many will opt for the manual process or for more affordable third-party sync tools that offer broader feature sets like DejaOffice from CompanionLink Software or Good CloudSync from Good Technology.

Clearly, the cloud doesn’t solve sync problems. Far from it. However, if your organization doesn’t have a data synchronization plan – with an emphasis on mobile – in place now, it will need to get one quickly in the coming year, or risk security breaches, non-compliance and document sprawl.

3. The cloud’s collision with mobile will demand corporate attention

The recession has accelerated many changes that were already underway before the crash. Outsourcing, an increasing reliance on contract workers and workers spending more of their time away from the office are all trends that show no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, more and more employees rely on non-PC devices as their go-to computing platforms.

“It is obvious the velocity and disruption of mobile adoption (iPhone, Android, etc.) has been greater than the velocity of cloud adoption,” said David D’Souza, CEO of Moprise, a provider of mobile collaboration solutions. D’Souza compares Apple to salesforce.com to illustrate his point. In three years, with the iPhone and iPad, Apple has generated $200 billion in stock market valuation, whereas salesforce.com has managed about $20 billion.

In this economy, $20 billion in market valuation is pretty darn good, but the cloud simply doesn’t generate the excitement, nor does it have the broad consumer appeal, of mobile. “In the cloud space, things are evolving differently. In the enterprise space, people are reluctant to throw away existing business processes and tend follow their existing vendors into the cloud. For example, they are waiting for Microsoft to provide on-premise infrastructure in the cloud instead of going elsewhere. This is why many more enterprise companies have moved to cloud-hosted Exchange instead of Gmail,” D’Souza said.


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Tags: cloud computing, Google, Microsoft, Cloud network, Windows 7


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