Jonathan Sapir, CEO of SilverTree Systems, Inc.
“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
It’s time to start the move. You don’t want to be left behind. This is for real, and it may mean life or death for your business.
What is “this”? This is the migration of your business to the cloud. It is a world free of of worry about things that have nothing to do with your core business.
Think of it this way – what if you had to concern yourself with providing the electricity needed to run your business? If there was no outlet to plug your lights and machines into, you would have to go look for a generator, buy it, implement it, hire engineers to keep it running, make sure you have backup, and make plans for any disaster that might befall such a critical component of your business.
It used to be this way, in the days before the electric grid, and being able to produce your own electricity was a huge competitive advantage. But once the grid was in place, it quickly became a major liability. Companies that moved to the grid significantly reduced their costs, and they could focus on their business. In addition, having access to cheap, unlimited electricity meant they could afford to make use of electrical components that before may have been cost prohibitive.
There is a very strong parallel between this and IT. Harvard professor Nicholas Carr has written a book about this called The Big Switch. In the same way that companies moved to the electrical grid, so they will move to the computing grid in the “cloud”. Just like plugging your device into an outlet to get electrical power, you point your browser to the appropriate application in the cloud to get the service you need.
There are enormous advantages to be had. You never have to buy servers again. You never have to worry about backups and disaster recovery. You never need to hire networking specialists to keep your infrastructure running. You never have to patch and upgrade your hardware or software.
But it’s even more than that. Once you are plugged into the cloud, you have access to thousands of new applications that can help your business, many of them free or low cost. Anyone anywhere in the world, at any time – employees, partners, clients – needs only a browser to access your organizations information. No more downloads, installs, updates.
The advantages go on. The software on the Web is generally much easier to use than the typical software you used to have to install yourself. It’s rare to see a user manual when using a Web application – everyone expects it to work just like Amazon or eBay. So you will spend less time in training and struggling with knowing what to do next.
And now you are not alone. Sure, there were user conferences for the software you used, but now there is likely to be a whole community online that can help you when you get stuck, and give you ideas on how to leverage the software even more.
So you’re thinking that all this sounds grand, but there has to be a downside. I am going to let my secret data be stored on some distant server somewhere where I have no control? This has got to be dangerous. What if my competitors get hold of it or it gets lost?
The truth is that you trust your money to outside institutions every single day. You would never think of hiding your money under your mattress. Why would you do that with your data? Besides, there is a much better chance that Joe the network guy is going to steal, lose, or otherwise accidentally distribute your data outside your organization than Google will.
It’s time to start thinking with your head in the cloud. Your costs will go down, your productivity will increase, and your business will be more efficient.
Stay tuned for a road map to show you how to get there…
Jonathan Sapir is the CEO of SilverTree Systems, Inc., a software company that specializes in helping small businesses leverage Internet to grow their business. He has more than 25 years of experience in business and IT alignment, professional service company management, custom software development, software product development, offshore team development and project management.