To Cloud or Not?

A very short story of how the cloud can help your business

Chris Stakutis   978 764 3488     August 2014   CTO

Of course you can not escape talk of the cloud and there are far better sites and papers than this for learning. The point of this story is to offer some very quick reasoning and direction -- the rest is up to you!

The term cloud is clearly over used, but do not shy away from it.  Do you recall when IBM invented the PC?  It came in sideways into businesses -- it allowed new work to be done with less corporate IT involvement (the manager could run numbers him/herself at their own desk for example).  It almost was scary how fast it took hold but it offered true value to running the business.

Cloud is similar.

Yet it has already gotten crowded and confusing (hybrid clouds, internal clouds, etc etc). Let’s just chat about the minimum you need to know and then the rest is up to you and your consultants.

First, per my other paper(s) (Independent Consultants, etc) let’s start with understanding that your main focus on your business should be the actual business and product you make -- not on running the business. Yes, the world has changed.  It’s more like driving your car today than 1970 -- you drive to get to where you need to be and no longer worry about battery or suspension or oil or any other aspect of operating the car.  So too is the direction of business.

Running your IT data center, even if only a 3+ man operation, is costly.  More importantly, it does not actually help you close more business nor improve your core product.  Given that I’m a 30+ year IT vet I can say this: It’s not much different than having a corporate cafe or clean-enough bathrooms as far as the rest of the world cares.

I do have two very summaristic comments to make which you can use for your exploration: Move to Microsoft 365 and move your IT to Softlayer (IBM cloud) as-much-as-possible (and it won't be everything, certainly not at first).

First, I’m a huge proponent of IBM and Microsoft products (but I’m a proponent of anything sensible and good).  Softlayer is IBM’s cloud (Amazon and others are cool too).  Many many many data centers around the globe (not that you should even care about that actually).

A typical cloud data center will have say 20,000 servers.  They add them like fleas on a dog and keep them powered and cudley 7x24.  Need a new server for some operation? Within minutes it’s available for you.   Don’t need it for a while, discard it, instantly.  As great as your IT guys may be, and your relationship with your vendor for purchases, you are simply not going to match the depth of a 20,000 server data center and the world’s best talent running and supporting it 24 hours a day.  And to you it doesn’t matter if the application server is down the hall of one of your buildings or down the highway -- its the same speed!

Next (and last for now), move your main Microsoft products (especially email) to Microsoft 365.  It’s cheaper, it is more current than your version of the products, and your users will not ever notice the difference (and boy simpler than running a VPN on your home computer or mobile simply to access your corporate mail -- you dont do that to access your Bank America account).

You win by taking these Cloud steps. You will save operational expense. You will be running the latest technology and not have to schedule down time. Your users will have even better customer service.

Focus on making your widget.

© 2014 Chris Stakutis is an independent consultant, author, and software creator available to help your business.