Thursday, April 09, 2015

Cloud Services and the Business

It wasn't all that long ago that cloud services were frowned upon in business circles but 2015 looks like being the year of cloud adoption. So far, I've personally signed up for three major options,

  • Google Apps for Business
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • IBM Smartcloud Connections

 Of course, there's a few smaller options in there too, like Symantec.Cloud which we use for Anti-Spam and Mail Archiving and Telstra's cloud services which we use in other capacities.

Data Protection
One of the things that has kept businesses well away from the idea of cloud services is belief that the US government has more access to data on cloud servers. In a way, this is true, particularly if those servers reside in the US.

Personally I don't understand why the US Government is considered to be such a threat to legitimate business but rest assured, I've seen the reactions. People clearly don't want their data to be snooped.

The problem is that the details of these laws make it clear that not being a US company or not being on US soil makes very little difference to the privacy of your data.  For a start, any company with any point of presence on US soil is subject to the PATRIOT act and may be required to surrender your data -- even if it was never on a US Server.

Secondly, most countries, Australia included, have reciprocal agreements which essentially mean that the government will willingly turn data over to the US if required. There's not a lot you can do about it.

With that in mind, a cloud service stops being quiet so scary. Your data is available no matter which way you look at it. You might as well make sure that you pick a cloud service that satisfies your business needs rather than some imaginary geographical ones. 

I'm not nearly close to a choice of the best service - yet.  What I can say is that of the three big ones I've looked at, Google is the easiest and cheapest to sign up and use.  Microsoft's service was by far the most difficult, it took me more than a week to sort out the licensing - and that was with the help of a Business Partner.

IBM so far sits somewhere in the middle, it's very simple to get started but now a month or so later, I'm still trying to get my head around it all. What I can see so far is that there's a lot of potential there and that it seems to integrate well with our existing Domino solutions.  I'll provide more information as I begin to figure it out.

One thing's for sure though. Microsoft is all about the "Office" and "Exchange" brands, Google is wider than simply applications and IBM is about collaboration -- applications take a clear back seat to the collaborative environment as a whole.

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