5 Lessons learned from Cloud Computing
Unless you have been hiding under a rock you have heard the term “The Cloud.” Cloud computing is – at its core – running networks, applications, and services in the Internet.
More specifically at Keystone, we are helping all sizes of businesses by moving applications and data off of their on-premise servers to online systems… in the cloud. By doing this it allows us to have anytime anywhere access to support servers while providing the ability to scale quickly. We no longer have to worry about managing that server in the back room any longer. And you don’t have to find space for the servers, nor ways to secure them. Turn to our team of geeks online to manage all that. This is a big deal for small businesses that don’t have the experience or money to support these systems but require the technology they offer to be competitive and grow.
We’ve been moving customers to the cloud for over 2 years now. We come in and evaluate the applications the customer is using then put a plan together to migrate the data and apps to our cloud. We then remove the on-premise servers from the customer’s site. They can now work remotely wherever they are and have all the benefits of the cloud.
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Since we have been doing this a while, I wanted to share what we have learned and experience so far with this huge shift in the computing world.
- Businesses are aware of “the cloud.” When we talk with customers they already seem very knowledgeable about the cloud and what it is. I think that’s a result of the huge marketing campaigns out there selling “the cloud.” Thank you Apple, Google and Microsoft! We don’t have to explain what it is and how it works. They might not know how the technology works but they do get that we are going to get rid of all the on-premise servers and have all the data and applications in “the cloud.” Most are ready to embrace it as they’re a frustrated with having to keep buying new hardware and software every 4 years to upgrade their servers. They just don’t want to do that anymore.
- Most cloud based applications are still in their infancy. One thing I’ve noticed about cloud based solutions is that as the huge vendors role out their cloud based applications they are really coming out with a 1.0 version of their product. With version 1 of applications we usually see just the basic features of a product without all the bells and whistles yet. What we’ve also experienced is that features you would normally get in the on-premise solutions are not available in the cloud yet. For some customers that’s a show stopper. For others they never used them anyway.
- Migrations can be tricky. Similar to the applications being in their infancy the migration tools are also very new. This can make it difficult to do customer migrations, especially if they have complex infrastructures. Sometimes things need to be done manually, or we need to call technical support so they can perform certain tasks that the tools don’t offer you.
- Bandwidth is key. Though Internet speeds have become much faster and more reliable, when we move applications to the cloud we have to rely on them even more. So when the “Internet” line when down in the past we just lost the ability to access web pages and get our email. Most customers would be just fine because they still had access to their important systems like accounting and CRM. With cloud computing if you lose your Internet connection or if it’s too slow to work employees become very unproductive and business suffers. We address these issues faster or redundant lines and very good firewalls that allow us to keep a constant eye on the bandwidth for customers.
- Some applications do not work very well in the cloud. What we are seeing a lot of with customers is a hybrid approach to cloud computing. There are easy applications that can be moved to the cloud quickly, like email, backups, CRM, shared documents and voice. Other applications are much more difficult because the vendor hasn’t offered a solution or because it doesn’t work well over the internet. Some of those are accounting solutions and the home grown applications companies have developed. For these customers we move what we can to the cloud so they get the benefits while waiting for the other applications to release their cloud based solutions.