The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a paper this past month entitled Cloud Computing Synopsis and Recommendations. The purpose of the document was to help promote a better understanding of Cloud Computing services. At Umzuzu we run our business 100% in the Cloud and we're not alone. We're passionate about Cloud Computing because we are able to realize the benefits on a daily basis. For 6 years we have helped organizations of all types and sizes realize these benefits as well. Organizations of all types and sizes are in the Cloud: the federal government, banks with more than 100,000 employees, state and local governments, leading universities, the world's most innovative company, charter schools, and millions more.
The NIST paper does a good job of outlining a few of these benefits and we thought we would share our perspective.
Benefit: Unlike traditional software applications, like Microsoft Outlook, Cloud apps can be accessed without complex installation procedures.
How long does it take to get a new employee up on Google Apps? A few minutes. In fact, organizations have rolled Google Apps out to thousands of employees in as little as 24 hours.
Benefit: Distribution costs for the software are fundamentally reduced.
The value of Cloud Computing has always been driven by the ability to get "more for less". More apps, more security, more storage, more redundancy, more mobility, etc. Google Apps provides more than 60 applications, all at less cost than legacy systems like Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes - which only provide one application!
Benefit: Efficient Use of Software Licenses
Organizations can leverage a single Google Apps subscription for individuals, regardless of how many computers, smartphones, or tablets that person may need to leverage on any given day. This allows these firms to avoid purchasing extra licenses for separate computers that may not be used regularly, resulting in over-provisioning. This can also save the organization time and resources as it simplifies or removes the need to review and audit local software assets.
Benefit: Centralized Management and Data
This is one of the most overlooked benefits of Cloud Computing. IT executives worry about a loss of control in the Cloud but Cloud Computing actually enables better control than is available with legacy technologies like Outlook. In the multi-tenant architecture, used by Cloud Computing firms like Google, data is stored in a decentralized manner for improved performance, redundancy and reliability. However, the organization's data is centralized from their point of view. The technology executive has complete control over their data, much more so than they would with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of personal computers running local applications with local settings and local data storage. We often use the analogy of a debit card vs cash. With the debit card the valuable asset, the cash, remains safely secured in a centralized environment yet is fully available across a wide range of use cases. As an administrator I can cancel cards, quickly reissue new cards, audit card usage, etc. If the cash is distributed, rather than centralized, an administrator loses these abilities. Debit cards provide more control, flexibly and security because the cash remains securely centralized.
Benefit: Infrastructure Responsibilities Managed by the Provider
Google is in the business of providing Cloud Computing services, your organization likely has a different mission. Software and hardware in and of themselves are completely useless. It is the service these technologies enable that provides the value to our organizations. We don't want an Exchange Server, we want email. The Exchange Server was a means to that end. With Google Apps, it is Google that takes care of backups, system maintenance, security patches, power management (which they're really great at!), hardware refreshes, physical plant security, upgrades, and more. This allows an organization's IT team to focus on more strategic projects than the care and feeding of a messaging server.
Benefits: Savings in Up-front Costs
The implementation of Google Apps does not require the up-front costs associated with hardware and legacy software. To implement new services for their users, organizations were traditionally forced to make large capital investments in hardware, software, professional services and other infrastructure components. Companies had two choices when making these investments. Over-provision or under-provision - to be conservative, organizations typically over-provisioned or at least attempted to over-provision, capacity planning is not an exact science.
The benefits of Cloud Computing are available today, right now. What are you waiting for?