Cloud computing is using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. It is also becoming the method of choice for many individuals and businesses to make data access easier than ever before. Therefore, cloud computing applications are being considered for both personal and business endeavors on a wider scale, making these applications much more accessible and secure. It is no longer just a technology of the future – it is the smartest and most functional way to run a business today.
Join Dr. Matthew Dunn as he takes you through a lecture journey of building and running a business on SaaS (“Software as a Service”) solutions. Learn the principles and ‘blueprint’ to running a lean, cost-effective company on Internet-based business systems and tools in 17 chapters while also realizing why this may be a more secure option than you think. The transcript below will take you through an introductory chapter which outlines the advances of cloud computing, mitigating concerns with this new technology, the benefits of cloud computing to a business, and real-life personal and business examples of how cloud computing has increased the quality of his life and company. By the end of this series, you should be able to master business applications in the cloud and how to collaborate with other people and devices to make your life and business the most productive it has ever been.
If you sat through my What’s Cloud Computing 101, let’s take a few minutes and talk about the advantages of cloud computing. Why would you make a business shift to cloud-based systems, to software as a service and other kinds of services that are out there somewhere else? Let me talk why not first, all right?
One of the biggest objections that I hear from people when I talk about cloud computing is they say, Well, I don’t want my data, I don’t my stuff, I don’t want my information sitting on someone else’s system out there on the net somewhere else out of my control. Let me counter that with two fairly simple observations. The computer I’m at right now, the computer this little green guy is at, the computer you’re viewing this on, are also on the net right now and if you think that your computer is somehow safer, more secured, more locked down than a data center system that’s running a software as its service application or pieces of a software as a service application, I’m sorry, it’s not. I’m not saying that those systems are inherently more secure, but they’re far more likely to have someone whose job it is to keep them secure, to back them up, to keep your data secure, to back it up, to try and protect it from hackers, thieves and spies and so on. Yes, many of those in one place makes it a bigger target, so the likelihood of a breach goes up.
The reason I think that cloud computing is such a powerful thing is it kind of shifts the focus of information technology (IT), and it splits those things apart and it says, you know what, it’s about the information separately from the technology. Your data, your information might end up all over the place. The technology with which you access it is actually going to end up all over the place as well, and the days of being able to centralize all of your business information, calculation and function on one personal computer or on a server with a few computers attached to it, it just doesn’t work anymore, right? How many digital devices do you have running in your life? You probably have a PC, most likely a notebook, you’ve probably got a smartphone, you might have a tablet, you might have another PC, home PC and office PC. You might have kids in the house in which case the number of digital devices multiply, and you might have a TV that’s connected to the net. You might get guest access to a computer of some sort. The number of digital devices really going up and up and up.
If you move your information to a system on the cloud, a couple of advantages start happening. That information can work for you seven by 24. It’s not dependent on you keeping your computer up and running, or worse, you being physically at that computer. So, there’s a freedom in space, literally freedom from location that comes with data on the cloud. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve needed access to a bit of information and taken out my phone to get what I need to. I actually answered a text question at a stoplight once because I could go right to the cloud system that we use for documents, log in, go to the document, hit the password on the document – because that was information I protected twice and answered the question from the Bookkeeper. So your information up there, always on, maybe in a number of different systems. There’s another very big thing – it enables you to get to it from multiple devices. It also enables, in a really fundamental way, your business data to work with other people or other kinds of business data, and become part of the world, if you will.
So, I’ll give you an example, following on my SaaS example from What’s Cloud Computing. When I send someone an invoice from our cloud-based invoicing system, they get a link in an email that says you’ve got an invoice from, say Visually. When they open that link and go read the invoice there’s a little record added to my data that says, so and so looked at this invoice at this date and this time from this IP address. I don’t have the arguments about ‘well, we never got your invoice’ because I’m able to say, actually, yeah this person looked at it, read it on this day. And that’s only possible because the invoices are sitting there and because that company keeps adding the functions and connections to make all of that work. I don’t want to make all that work on my own office infrastructure, and I actually don’t need that – I don’t need to be the only person in the world who can send invoices or acknowledge reading of invoices, that way it’s great if everybody does it. So, the company that writes the invoicing system can focus on being the best in the world at that, and I can take advantage of it and I can even structure the subscription to it so it makes business sense for company my size or a bigger subscription for a bigger company that does a lot more invoices.
So, cloud computing has a huge number of advantages. You’re not in the same kind of control because yes, your data is somewhere else. I’ll address some of the ways to deal with those concerns in the course. You’re not necessarily as integrated, and these are somewhat early days for cloud computing I think, and it’s quite possible to end up with a system for this and a system for that and a system for the other, and yes, you end up feeling like your business data is sort of scattered in different buckets. From what I’ve seen on the ground, old fashioned IT with PCs and servers, that tended to happen just as much in the office as it’s happening in the cloud. Another thing that I address in this course is some ways to start planning and choosing systems so that that integration between cloud systems, disparate cloud systems is possible, and it really starts to generate some additional advantages. So again, why the cloud? I’ve got to say, why do you get your electricity from the grid and why don’t you have a generator in the house? That’s kind of what it comes down to. I hope that’s helpful. I’m going to get very technical at the beginning of the course. It’s not for the sake of technology, it’s for the sake of talking about business control and things that you should have a handle on so that you can keep running your own cloud-based systems without ending up with a big IT staff. So, I hope you enjoy it!