This month Evoke are pleased to publish a guest blog provided by our good friend Mark Deakin- Partner Technology Strategist at Microsoft.
I first met Mark back in 2009 when we worked together at Vodafone and soon discovered that he is one of those guys that simply loves making technology work. What is more he particularly enjoys enabling technologies to help consumers and businesess be more productive.
As a child it is reported that he was a bit of a “geek” – which must undoubtedly be true as he collects gadgets ‘for fun’ these days and can be found always within reaching distance of a plug socket or an internet connection.
Mark shares with us his thoughts around ‘the cloud’ and what it might mean for the Small and Medium Enterprises of UK PLC. We hope that you enjoy Marks piece and look forward to your feedback….
“Having worked in IT for over 14 years, I have seen a number of technologies come and go and with the public interest in ‘cloud’ increasing, I was wondering if this is just another fad or something that might be here to stay?
Probably the first thing to do is clarify what is meant by the term ‘cloud’. The answer normally depends on which vendor you are speaking to of course. My personal opinion is that when you put something in the cloud, you are paying for someone to run all or part of that service for you in a data centre somewhere. This could range from them simply supplying power, network, compute and disaster recovery only, through to them running and maintaining the entire service. You could compare this to either buying a new car where you sort out everything, except perhaps a yearly service, through to having are car on a company car scheme where repairs, petrol, servicing are all included in the cost, all you need to do is drive. With cloud, as with the car example, you decide how much you want to be involved in maintenance of the service, paying more if you want to offload the effort and worry to the supplier.
Given you are offloading the effort and stress to someone else, you would understandably assume that this means a service in the cloud becomes expensive. Luckily this isn’t the case, due to the large purchasing power of organisations running the service, the mass adoption of the services and the high levels of automation, all of which contributes to the price being much lower that you would expect. For example, Microsoft offer a version of Office365 for small businesses that is the same price as three Starbucks coffees per month (admittedly I could probably polish off three skinny lattes in one day). Previously this technology was only available to large organisations with a considerable IT budget, now it’s available to any size of organisation that can spare a few less lattes during the month, allowing them to compete with the big players on a level technology playing field. Proof of this is that my wife’s cake decorating business has access to the same technology as I do working at Microsoft …. Something that a few years back would have been unthinkable.
One question I get asked all the time is ‘Do I have to move everything into the cloud?’. My feeling is that the cloud should be nearly invisible for the person using it and where possible they shouldn’t need to adjust their work practices much, if at all. This for me means you probably need a combination of ‘in the cloud’ and ‘on premises’, perhaps even a little ‘fog’ (a term I love, coined by Cisco) which is partner hosted and somewhere in-between ‘on-the-ground’ and ‘in the cloud’ . You might chose to have something local where employees have limited connectivity or because you have special requirements for a set of users, but I would suggest that in every company, the majority of people will need a generic service that supplies what they use 80% of the time, and for those people a cloud service is normally the best route. Now is the time for you to look at what you could move to the cloud!
Availability of cloud is changing the balance between small and large organisations, levelling the playing field and giving small businesses access to solutions that would previously have been out of reach. The question therefore for any small business is why would they not bring cloud into at least some part of their business? You could simply move commodity services like email or telephony to the cloud as you no longer want to run them yourself. However, I would suggest you look at this as an opportunity to rethink what you would do if your business had unlimited IT budget. With cloud you only pay for what you use, it’s your imagination that’s the limiting factor, not the availability of resource as a realistic price.”
Thanks to Mark for such a thought provoking piece. If you want to follow Mark he is of course available up there in the clouds at @markdeakin or #GeekinDeakin.