A recent article from Computerworld stated many companies are moving away from expensive enterprise IT infrastructure and toward “cloud-based” solutions. As a SaaS provider, I have to admit that I too am driven by the opportunities that cloud-based infrastructure presents us. We are seeing companies move away from expensive hardware and toward amazon cloud services, and the benefits can be extraordinary. However, we also see opportunities that cloud-based solutions can provide for the SMB community, and I’d like to explore those opportunities briefly.
1. Reduced Costs and Impact on People
When companies undertake massive investments in IT infrastructure and processing resources, it is easy to see how the impact can be felt immediately. However, these investments often have a very negative impact on the people responsible for using the existing infrastructure. Although it is often easier to put a dollar figure onto the impact of IT infrastructure costs, I’d like to explore another metric. The typical response or reaction from a manager when making a change in their infrastructure is “but I only have 80 people using it so I don’t really need 80 engineers to manage it”. Many times this statement is used may not be an accurate measurement of the impact of the change, and more often than not the impact is felt in very subtle ways.
How many of your people have heard the phrase “changing the infrastructure” and how many have felt the impact of that change? The impact is there. Understanding the symptoms of the change is the first step in preventing the change from occurring. Many change management techniques focus on the infrastructure, but it is important to look at the people who are actually using the infrastructure. A change can be implemented successfully by the department whose people make the change. You need to understand what people are doing and what their expectations are.
Why is there a need to understand the expectations of the change?
IT departments are trying to meet the business expectations. By understanding the impact that the change is having on your department, you will be in a better position to make any adjustments that are required.
Usually, the change is going to require new tools and new ways of doing things, and IT departments are not immune to this. If you have a nickel for every time you have to spend a couple of extra minutes animating a couple of extra tabs in your accounting system, you are going to feel the impact of the change in time.
When it comes to SaaS, the effect of the change may be negligible for the person using the legacy system, but for the department where that legacy system is based, it may be a major issue.
There are 3 different wavelength strategies that cloud computing supports. They are:
- Ultrasonic hardwire
- Optical fiber (including SONET)
- McKinsey gauge
- Infrared hardwire
The first one is ultrasonic hardwire, used for voice and data applications in the regime of mater-to-mom cable, where cables are just made for data communications. This is old technology, and it tends to be costlier than its optical alternatives.
Optical fiber (including SONET)
This is the sequencing strand and is used for basic cloth cable. Optical fibers are made from glass or plastic, and they carry data across them very well. This is a good idea because few things are impervious to fiber optics.
This is like playing with a bunch of fire loggers. It uses certain wavelengths of infrared, which are longer than the wavelengths of the visible light spectrum. Because of this, it is less susceptible to interference from unrelated sources, and it keeps the signal traveling farther before it loses strength.
This fourth option is wireless fidelity. It uses Bluetooth technology. This is a widely used wireless networking protocol and it is superior to the other two. Wi-Fi lets you share information with your network, which is a good thing when you have a small network of stations.
The positives of Wi-Fi
It’s easy to install. It’s quick. It’s very inexpensive. You can do it anywhere in the world where there is Wi-Fi. Some use their cell phones to do this.
Its advantages are very obvious. If you have a small network, use Wi-Fi. It’s very fast. It’s also very convenient. If you have a notebook, use Wi-Fi to download updates. Your things can be kept in the pocket of your pants. This is very helpful.