Currently and historically businesses have used Office PC’s to run applications and used a locally networked file server to share data, this is called Client / Server Computing. All that however is changing... Cloud Computing is terminology which is very much in vogue these days, but what does it mean? It depends upon the context, in general terms it is delivering applications, processing or storage services over a network. As web browsers have become more sophisticated a user can now run a majority of their office applications from within a web browser, this is referred to as SaaS (Software as a service). You’ve probably used cloud computing resources already without realising when you use Google mail or Hotmail, they are Cloud email services.
It is also possible to outsource your applications and systems software to a Cloud provider, Client programs called middleware have been developed allowing more complex programs to be delivered over a network or internet. The need for powerful PC’s is no longer such a consideration as the server or servers instead do the lion’s share of the number crunching. Referred to as PaaS (Platform as a service) this is potentially how computing may be heading over the next few years where you will pay for number crunching as and when you need it rather than paying for systems yourself that may remain idle half the time.
Cloud computing may not be right for everyone, it may be the ‘latest thing’ but I would look at the benefits to your business before venturing into a potentially disruptive and costly upgrade. On the flip side though there are long term savings and benefits, it allows the end user to access their programs from any workstation or even on the move from a tablet or smartphone. It would be prudent to consider a Cloud solution when equipment reaches the end of its life cycle or when you are investing in new Systems and Hardware. It’s perfectly feasible to have Cloud based systems working alongside or even integrated with your current technology.
Citrix XenServer or VMware vSphere Server Software
VMware and Citrix have a multitude of services and software to choose from geared towards Cloud computing and virtualisation. You can outsource your computing needs or install software on your own servers such as VMware vSphere or Citrix XenServer which when configured will host many virtual machines over a network. The end user would typically use a Thin Client which is a small and relatively dumb device with ports for network connection, screen and keyboard, this then provides access via a logon to the VMware or Citrix servers and thier virtual machines.
Microsoft Windows Server 2012 or Server 2012 Essentials
A Microsoft 2012 server would make a good cloud solution and may be an ideal stepping stone on the way to cloud based computing. A lot of people are a bit uncomfortable handing all their company data over to a third party to look after but with Server 2012 you can still retain Client / Server type services and keep your data and resources in house, it lets you dip your toe into the cloud without committing fully, you can roll out Virtualisation and Cloud services as you require them. It must be highlighted though that It can be pricey as Microsoft have introduced new licencing, it all depends on the size of your business and the resources you need, also the Essentials Server which is a replacement for Microsoft’s Small Business Server only allows a maximum of 25 users and offers no client virtualisation (i.e. windows delivered over a network) and office applications are only available in the form of ‘Office365’ Microsoft’s web based office suite which is a kind of subscription pay as you go service. Further information available from Microsoft Website
or contact me to discuss available options.
Ubuntu Linux Cloud Platform
A very good cost saving approach to Cloud Computing is Ubuntu Server which, while not quite having the native software choices of Windows is still a very attractive and cheaper alternative. Ubuntu comes with Office type programs similar to Word, Excel and Powerpoint, an Email client and a Web Browser plus over 40,000 more programs are available through the Ubuntu Software Centre, some free and some commercial. Also with 3rd party extensions you can even run Windows Apps from within Ubuntu plus share and exchange Microsoft Office documents with Windows Systems. If you want a simple office solution then this is the perfect choice and is a viable and ever popluar alternative to Windows or other office systems.
Contact me to discuss your available Cloud Computing options.