Forecast bright for cloud computing


Special to the Miami Herald

Clouds are typically bad news in sunny South Florida, but the opposite is true for the digital cloud.

Whether we want to admit it or not, our lives are already inextricably tied to the technology cloud. Most major companies have made the switch to it, and many small businesses depend on it for emergency back-up data storage at the very least. In fact, if you have conducted any sort of business in the last few years, it is a metaphysical certainty that it was done through the use of cloud computing at some level.

The cloud isn’t a passing technological fad that will fizzle out over the coming years, but rather a permanent fixture of the modern world. From a purely business strategy perspective, the question isn’t whether one should move all their data to the cloud, but when.

The most obvious time is when executives realize their servers and personal computers are severely outdated. Most individuals who are not technically inclined surmise that it is more cost-effective to wring out everything they can from their technology infrastructure, regardless of how outdated.

What they overlook is the amount of money they are spending on the required maintenance and upkeep of such equipment, not to mention the accumulated hours of productivity lost to rebooting servers or cleaning hard drives. Outdated technology also sends the wrong signal to clients, business partners and employees about how serious you are about your operation. Companies should also research cloud options when first starting out and weighing the initial cost for servers, personal computers and hardware.

Another opportune time would be the next time they face major software updates. Many companies are required to comply with ever-changing software standards, which means if they don’t operate from the cloud, they have to install and update new software on every terminal individually. In addition, as companies grow, they often need to upgrade to enterprise resource planning systems, supply chain management software or new accounting systems that require more firepower. When one operates from the cloud, any software can be updated or installed across all devices instantly. Because the development of software applications and business systems is ongoing and fluid, companies will need to continually upgrade and cloud based systems have a clear advantage.

Executives might also want to think about the cloud when the topic of business continuity and disaster recovery arises. Data that is stored on a single hard drive is at the mercy of that hard drive’s functionality. Should it ever be damaged, lost or fried in some sort of unforeseen disaster, the data on that drive will be lost forever. One of the core functions of cloud data storage is to make data easily retrievable from anywhere there is an Internet connection. The use of virtual desktop technology and the act of moving your entire technology operation into the cloud makes it possible to operate on your terms. The viability of any business hinges on its ability to continue operating throughout any circumstance, which is not necessarily possible without the cloud.

Lastly, when it is time to write a big check for routine IT maintenance, they may want to determine what is more costly: an entire IT staff or the cloud. On the one hand you have a group that must be constantly commissioned to provide maintenance on an outdated infrastructure and on the other a high security virtual platform that will not cost nearly as much as it will save.

Just as every business in the world now uses phones and email, it is simply a fact that at some point they will all be using a cloud-based data solution. The only difference between them will be how much time, money and resources they wasted on archaic technology before they made the transition.

Jonathan Lieberman is CEO and Co-founder of itopia, Inc., a cloud IT service provider specializing in law, real estate, healthcare and financial firms of all sizes.

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