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Cloud Computing for SMBs

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  • 1. Cloud Computing for SMBs Jonathan Sapir, CEO, SilverTree Systems "If something is a good idea, it's going to happen. And so, you can fight it, or you can do it." - Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO requirements. No more expanding data A major shift in the centers to make room for additional racks of way companies servers to support a growing business. obtain software Maintenance, scalability, performance, and computing backup, disaster recovery – all gone. capacity is well under way. It With cloud computing, you outsource the promises to offer functions that don’t make you special to small-midsized someone who specializes in them. organizations significant cost savings and exciting new opportunities. Instead of PLUGGING INTO THE GRID making do with a small, under-resourced IT staff trying to emulate the capabilities of IT Cloud computing is a truly disruptive outfits with multimillion-dollar budgets, technology in the way that it delivers smaller companies can now access superior capability at a lower cost. enterprise-class technology with low up- Think of it this way - what if you had to front costs and easy scalability. concern yourself with providing the electricity needed to run your business? If WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING? there was no outlet to plug your lights and machines into, you would have to go look for With "cloud computing", the general term for this new wave, companies can run every a generator, buy it, implement it, hire information system they rely on without engineers to keep it running, make sure you owning any tech equipment. The ultimate have backup, and make plans for any goal of cloud computing for a SMB is to disaster that might befall such a critical component of your business. become a serverless enterprise. It used to be this way, in the days before the Cloud computing lets businesses rent access to applications and IT infrastructure that electric grid, and being able to produce your reside on the Internet, pay for them on a own electricity was a huge competitive advantage. But once the grid was in place, it subscription or per-use basis and provide quickly became a major liability. Companies employees with access to information from anywhere at any time with nothing more that moved to the grid significantly reduced than a connected device. No more hassling their costs, and they could focus on their with software updates or growing storage business. In addition, having access to www.SilverTreeSystems.com
  • 2. cheap, unlimited electricity meant they developer doesn’t need to worry about could afford to make use of electrical being able to scale up the hardware when components that before may have been cost more users are added – the platform takes prohibitive. care of this and everything else needed to keep the application running. Force.com There is a very strong parallel between this (for professional developers) and Coghead and IT. In the same way that companies (for analysts and power users) are examples moved to the electrical grid, so they will of this. move to the computing grid in the "cloud". Just like plugging your device into INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE CLOUD an outlet to get electrical power, you point your browser to the appropriate application Developers and system administrators in the cloud to get the service you need. obtain general compute, storage, queuing, and other resources and run their DIFFERENT TYPE OF CLOUDS applications with the fewest limitations. In this cloud type, virtually any application and There are different flavors of cloud any configuration that is fit for the internet computing for SMBs: can be mapped to this type of service. Amazon is the prime example of this kind of APPLICATIONS IN THE CLOUD cloud platform. In some cases, application Almost everyone has already used this form platforms run on this infrastructure (e.g. of cloud computing in the form of Gmail, Coghead). Google Apps, Wikipedia, Salesforce, etc. In WEB SERVICES IN THE CLOUD these examples, a company hosts a working application on the internet that many users Web service providers offer APIs that enable sign-up for and use without any concern developers to exploit functionality over the about where, how, or by whom the compute Internet, rather than delivering full-blown cycles and storage are provided. The service applications. They range from providers being sold (or offered in ad-sponsored form) offering discrete business services -- such as is a complete end-user application. On the Strike Iron and Xignite -- to the full range of customer side, it means no upfront APIs offered by Google Maps, ADP payroll investment in servers or software licensing; processing, the U.S. Postal Service, etc. on the provider side, with just one application to maintain, costs are low INTEGRATION IN THE CLOUD compared to conventional hosting. Users usually plug into isolated cloud PLATFORMS IN THE CLOUD services individually. This is particularly inconvenient if you require data or Application platforms are provided for functionality from more than one service to developers to write their own applications complete a single task. But one of the major and then immediately deploy them. The advantages of being in the cloud is that most www.SilverTreeSystems.com
  • 3. applications subscribe to the same open FREE UP RESOURCES standards, making integration much simpler than traditional application integration. The When you subscribe to a web-hosted goal of cloud-based integration is to treat application, you free your organization from every enterprise as a node in the cloud that supporting high cost, time-consuming IT can programmatically be accessed in the functions that are far away from the core same way. There are companies like Boomi mission of your organization. that are making this easier. GET THE LATEST INNOVATIONS BENEFITS OF CLOUD COMPUTING With traditional licensed software, you SAVE MONEY typically have to wait for the next release to benefit from the latest innovations. Given It is much less expensive to implement a the cost and complexity of moving to a new cloud-based application than a traditional version, it may not even be practical to on-premises application. upgrade each time a new release becomes available. A typical software implementation involves purchasing and maintaining servers, housing With a cloud-based application on the other them securely, and installing and hand, you benefit from innovations on an maintaining the software. This requires the on-going basis. As soon as a new or time and effort of experienced IT personnel. improved feature appears in the application, you can begin using it. In the cloud, there is no hardware to purchase, scale, and maintain, no operating PAY AS YOU GO systems, database servers, or application servers to install, no consultants and staff to When you subscribe to a cloud-based manage it, and no need for periodic application, you pay a monthly or annual upgrades. subscription fee. Compared to a traditional software license, this subscription payment SAVE TIME structure works to your advantage. An on- going monthly expense is easier to By eliminating many of the typical incorporate into your budget than a large implementation tasks associated with one-time outlay. You can cancel or change licensed software, deployment time tends to your subscription at any time without losing be much shorter with a cloud application a large initial investment. In many cases, than a traditional one. The application is subscriptions are based on metered usage so already up and running on the vendor’s you pay for exactly what you use. Rather servers so you just have to get your data into than making a long-term commitment to the system. one fixed account structure, you can add or subtract accounts at any time as your organizational needs shift. www.SilverTreeSystems.com
  • 4. JOIN A SUPPORT COMMUNITY With traditional licenses, there is no strong vested interest from the vendor perspective In the cloud, you are not alone. When you to make sure the customer is successful. subscribe to a cloud application, you become Cloud vendors, by contrast, must continue to a member of a community that has the justify their ongoing monthly fees. They have application at the center. This community to make sure the customer is happy with it can help you when you get stuck, and give month after month. you ideas on how to leverage the software even more. BUILD LONG TAIL APPLICATIONS GET INCREASINGLY BETTER SOFTWARE Cloud-based development and deployment platforms make feasible many software One of the more subtle benefits of cloud solutions that were previously too costly to computing comes from the fact that vendors build. Eliminating the need for constantly monitor how their customers are infrastructure (both hardware and software) using the application. Awareness of how means the start up, deployment and support customers in the aggregate are using an costs for an application are significantly application presents the vendor with a reduced. constant supply of metrics they can use to improve usability, performance, and BE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLIER functionality. In addition, when you contact technical support, you’re likely to experience Cloud-based computing facilitates higher use, economies of scale and efficiencies faster and better service because support professionals can see exactly what’s which leads to more work done per unit of happening – there are no installation- energy consumed. specific variables to be considered. MINIMIZE RISK ENJOY BETTER SERVICE DELIVERY The risk involved in implementing business applications is eliminated the need for up- Because of tremendous economies of scale, cloud-based vendors can provide higher front capital investment. service levels than the vast majority of SCALE MORE EASILY companies can achieve on their own. The best technologies, policies, and procedures Successful businesses are continually are used to ensure security at the facilities, changing and growing: employee growth, application, and network level; to ensure transaction growth, the launching of new maximum uptime and continuous products and services, mergers and availability; and to provide a high acquisitions, or any number of business performance level. events can dramatically and suddenly alter In addition, the interest of the vendor and business needs. A cloud-based platform will their customers are much better aligned. automatically grow, scale, and adapt with www.SilverTreeSystems.com
  • 5. your changing business – without you even put safeguards in place to ensure near thinking about it. constant availability of their applications. The major player like Amazon have full SPARK INNOVATION hardware redundancy to avoid consequences from equipment failure, The ability to get new projects off the redundant power supplies to avoid ground quickly is a huge enabler of consequences from a power failure, and innovation. Also, the ability to re-allocate IT scalable server farms that are able to resources means that IT can focus more on immediately meet a sudden increase in new initiatives instead of maintain the demand. existing infrastructure. WILL I LOSE CONTROL OF MY DATA? INTEGRATE SOLUTIONS When you subscribe to a cloud service, your Once you are in the cloud, you can do things application data is stored on the vendor’s that were really difficult to do using servers rather than on your own servers. If traditional means. Each site becomes a you’re concerned about losing control over service that can fit together like cogs in a your data, most vendors will allow you to machine. easily export my data in a format that you can re-use if you need to. OBJECTIONS HOW TO GET STARTED IS MY DATA SECURE? For most organizations with an existing IT Security and privacy are concerns whether infrastructure, moving to the cloud will be a you subscribe to cloud service or purchase journey. There are many different ways to software and implement it on in-house get started: servers. A cloud vendor you can trust offers BUILD A NEW CUSTOM APPLICATION you the level of security you need while saving your organization the expense and Instead of building your new application the effort required to house, deliver, and back traditional way, build it in the cloud using up an application. It’s very similar to one of the new cloud platforms. keeping your money in a bank. An example of what you might use is for this WILL MY APPLICATION BE AVAILABLE? is Coghead. It combines a strong rapid application development environment with Cloud applications are not a new, untested the ability for tech-savvy end users to tweak software delivery model. NetSuite and business logic on their own. In addition, it Salesforce.com have been around for more renders the finished application in Adobe than five years and have hundreds of Flex, a rich and appealing user interface, and thousands of subscribers, including large stores all your data on Amazon's Elastic Global 2000 organizations. Reliable vendors Compute Cloud (EC2) infrastructure. Finally, www.SilverTreeSystems.com
  • 6. Coghead makes it easy to integrate with become part of a core process but no one is external data sources, including everything really sure how it works. from ERP data to Google Apps. ADOPT PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS ABANDON DYING TECHNOLOGY There are significant advantages to be This is a great opportunity to re-write an gained by starting to use cloud-based aging application by using technology that is productivity tools at very little (or no) cost. at the beginning of its lifecycle. An example is Google Apps, which offers a Replacing your old applications will not only comprehensive, easy-to-use and affordable get rid of the servers they run on, but will option. You get: online, real-time also allow you to take advantage of services collaboration for documents, spreadsheets on the Web that can dramatically enhance and presentations; Google Sites, a shared functionality and productivity. And it need space to store information, upload files and not take years to develop what you facilitate discussions; an email system need. Platforms like Coghead make it much accessible from anywhere and offers faster to develop custom applications, and powerful functionality. to even allow non-technical users to tweak the software as needed by changing MIGRATE SUPPORT APPLICATIONS business logic without programmer intervention. There are very powerful and inexpensive cloud-based online contact management MIGRATE SPREADSHEET APPLICATIONS systems. There are ready-to-go options like BigContacts or Highrise and easily All enterprises have applications that live in customizable ones from companies like spreadsheets, because a spreadsheet was Coghead. More sophisticated packaged the only tool available. There are cloud- options include Salesforce, and some of the based tools that are much better suited to accounting packages like NetSuite have applications that have outgrown the sophisticated CRM built-in. spreadsheet paradigm. Another application that is relatively easy to Typical candidates are: spreadsheets that migrate is content management. There are have grown into multiple tables with a tools like Squarespace which offer a tangle of forms and formulas; spreadsheets complete service for building and managing that are frequently emailed to co-workers or your Web site with all the functionality an clients for data collection and synthesis; SMB is likely to need. A tool like this can spreadsheets that live on a shared drive to save an organization significant time and enable multiple parties to access and update money. it; spreadsheets that have a version or revision number; and spreadsheet that have Project management software is one of the applications that has really benefited from www.SilverTreeSystems.com
  • 7. moving to the cloud by making collaboration email. This will lead to new opportunities and communication much simpler. There for improving efficiency, effectiveness and are numerous options, including tools like innovation. Basecamp and LiquidPlanner. MIGRATE CORE APPLICATIONS BUILD SITUATIONAL APPLICATIONS If you are considering changing your Sustained competitive advantage will accounting system, the cloud is the obvious increasingly depend on enabling self-reliant choice. There is no advantage to be gained employees to create their own software by keeping your accounting on your own solutions to meet their business needs. servers and dealing with software upgrades, These solutions are increasingly grouped backups and disaster recovery plans. under the term “situational applications” (SAs). There are several options available. Intuit, makers of Quickbooks, offers a not so great SAs are solutions aimed at solving but serviceable online version of immediate business challenges in a cost- Quickbooks. But there are exciting new effective way by specifically addressing alternatives like FreshBooks if your needs the situation at hand. are limited, or Intacct if they're not. And then there is NetSuite if you are really SAs are often applications that have growing or your needs are complex, and generally been inaccessible in the past need a fully customizable platform. because software has been too difficult to write, too costly to implement, and too CONCLUSION brittle to customize and maintain once deployed. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will be able to get rid of your IT Cloud computing has spawned a new wave infrastructure and start saving money. And of tools that effectively address these once you get to the cloud and start realizing problems. These tools empower business all the advantages it affords you, you'll users closest to the problems being solved wonder why it took you so long to make the to quickly build full-featured collaborative decision! business applications online and immediately deploy those applications to In fact, as cloud computing matures, we'll the appropriate people both inside and see small companies rely on the cloud for outside their organization. more and more of their technology needs, gradually eliminating the costs and SAs significantly reduce or even eliminate complexity of in-house IT infrastructure. the need to hire professional software developers, purchase or build a new Cloud computing levels the playing field for software application, or throw together a SMBs. The cloud makes leading-edge suboptimal, inefficient and incomplete technology available to everyone. solution using tools like Excel and www.SilverTreeSystems.com
  • 8. ABOUT SILVERTREE SYSTEMS, INC. SilverTree Systems specializes in helping small-mid size businesses (SMBs) accelerate their adoption of on-demand software solutions. Our services include the following: Strategy Definition SilverTree works closely with small-midsize companies and business units of large organizations to determine how cloud computing can radically improve business processes, help reach new customers, solve problems and penetrate new markets. Solution Development Our seasoned team of professionals has a history of delivering solutions on time and in budget. We combine proactive project management, a proven agile methodology, and a mastery of programming to guarantee success for our clients. Knowledge Packaging SilverTree provides a complete set of incubation services for organizations (or individuals) that want to package their knowledge and sell it as a service over the Internet. Contact jon@SilverTreeSystems.com for more information. www.SilverTreeSystems.com

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