You know that your computer systems give your entire organization a huge competitive advantage. Imagine if you had no computers to run your business? How would you compete against people who use technology? You also know the big problem with technology – when it breaks down, so does your organization’s ability to operate. We rely on this stuff so much, and it is deep within the fabric of our organizational processes. Without our technology, things just don’t happen.
It wasn’t always like this. Many folks can remember back to a time before highly computerized society existed. Businesses used paper ledgers and methods to provide process logic to their organizations which would seem completely foreign to most 1st world workers today.
Over the last 3 decades, I have seen computer deployments massively change in scope only a few times. In the 1980’s, I recall setting up monochrome “dumb terminals” for businesses, and wiring them with “serial cable” to a server running Unix – the predecessor to Linux, and this provided organizations access to spreadsheets they could share, and accounting data or other business process control systems.
In the 1990’s, I recall seeing Microsoft Windows come roaring to the scene, bringing with it a graphical user interface that delighted end users with the ability to do new things – such as play solitaire. It also brought e-mail and the Microsoft Office suite. Soon we had AOL, CompuServe, dial-up internet connections and the earliest editions of Internet Explorer. Many of these systems used “terminal emulators” to connect back to their old Unix servers to run legacy systems from the 1980’s.
By the year 2000, most small businesses started running their own Microsoft servers – which delivered e-mail to phones via sophisticated mobile synchronization technologies, the web was mature, and applications often ran from the Microsoft Servers, being provided to the organization across high-speed VPN links and such.
It wasn’t long before the smartphone revolution happened with the nationwide roll out of 3G data services and the subsequent release of the Apple iPhone – both events taking place in 2007.
So you can see this tectonic shift by 2010. Right around then people started kind of talking about this new technology called “the cloud”.
At the same time, consider that most businesses have, or are running servers on-premise that came from a model from the 1990’s. There are applications running on-site, on big expensive servers – often these very servers sit inside of broom closets.
Now imagine the modern needs of the “connected” user who operates with mobile flexibility, and needs to connect to information fast, from anywhere, anytime. They have to connect back to a system often running in a broom closet.
Imagine the users connecting to that application locally. The server’s performance is a huge bottleneck for them. Upgrading it is usually out of the question because that’s only done every 5-6 years, so many times you end up running these mission critical applications on hardware that’s really obsolete really quick.
The server crashes. The organization freezes. Communication halts. For some companies, e-mails from customers completely bounce back if the server is down! It is a major event. IT Services are required and must spring into action rapidly.
Where do these IT Services come from?
- Independent IT Consulting Experts
- Managed IT Services Provider Support
- In-House IT Services
These on-premise systems often require on-premise response to events, so that means sending a technician – often after hours – to a broom closet to see what’s wrong.
If a server has to be replaced, or restored from backup, the outage can be a lengthy event, and sometimes resolving complex problems takes allot of time and effort.
This is where “The Cloud” comes in. So it is a major shift – one of those that only happens every couple decades, and it changes everything. That’s a lot of hype right?! Well let me explain:
The cloud takes what we used to run on servers in businesses on-premise, and lets us run it inside a big data center. It allows a software-company that provides something like, accounting software for example, or CRM, or any computer system, to deliver that from “the cloud” remotely to the consumers of that software. This is a big difference from the past when you would buy a license to run software on your own servers. Now you buy a subscription to access software that runs in the cloud!
Why is this important? Well for several reasons.
- You run the latest release – no more “upgrade” projects usually, so lower IT costs & less downtime
- You get more stable access – it’s in the cloud
- It’s more secure – Yes, it really is more secure in the cloud than on-premise in most typical situations!
- It scales with you – Buy as much or as little as you need, pay as you grow, and often have flexibility to shrink too
I can say from experience that I have never found a situation in 2017 which I would recommend a business to avoid leveraging the cloud. In 100% of the cases I have been able to offer a compelling cloud-based solution to reduce on-premise servers, or entirely eliminate them.
Managed Cloud is what I focus on, and that means that my company provides the layer of support which goes between the end user of the application or server, and the provider(s) of that service. That means we focus on connecting the dots to achieve a resolution, but the support to get that resolution is typically built-in to the cloud as well!
I love the cloud for all the reasons above, and a lot more. I could go on and on about it’s merits, how it empowers businesses with new capabilities, and lets them run at speeds never before possible, but this article would get a bit long-winded.
One thing is for sure – businesses are moving all their server work loads to the cloud, and clearing out their “broom closets” and utility rooms, or reclaiming their “data center” real estate. They are getting a huge competitive advantage over the companies who run systems in-house, on-premise, and this advantage comes in several ways:
- Less capital costs for hardware/software updates
- Greater systems availability, Higher Performance
- Scalable applications
So that means these companies who use the cloud have more money up front because they don’t have to spend $15,000+ on servers every 5 years, they subscribe and pay a monthly fee. I will say that fee probably works out to the same cost as running on-premise, spread out over the course of several years. That’s why it’s common for cloud based application costs to be thousands of dollars a month for typical organizations. That’s fine because these very large upgrades aren’t necessary anymore. Imagine how much that saves in IT labor costs alone!
And that brings me to the “dark side” of the cloud. I’m an IT provider – I make a living giving businesses IT services, and doing IT consulting for companies. That being said, I just told you how I can work myself out of a job by moving you to the cloud! Consider that some IT vendors do not like the idea of the cloud. This system that makes their job a little less relevant, takes away the expensive, complex hardware they often are paid handsomely to maintain, and will certainly lose quite a few hours of billing if upgrades aren’t necessary anymore.
Not to even mention, IT Service companies make some margin on server sales. Take away server hardware sales, and two bad things happen to IT consulting businesses.
- Less profits for the IT Service company
- Less Gross Income for the IT Service company
Both of those are really bad for us IT consulting firms. I can say that I saw a 6 figure decrease in top line gross revenues when I quit selling servers and started letting customers “subscribe” to the cloud.
So that is one very compelling reason why so many IT professionals decide not to push for the cloud. If you ask your IT Service company, or your IT Consultant about the Cloud, and they try to steer you away from it, I would encourage you to get a 2nd opinion from a Managed Cloud IT Services company, like mine to learn if the cloud is applicable to your situation.