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Separating cloud facts from cloud fiction

Cloud computing isn’t new, having been in use by big business for decades in some form or another. Now the technology is readily accessible to SMBs, you need to separate fact from fiction to understand the benefits it can deliver to your business.

We keep hearing about how ‘the cloud’ is going to make us crazy-powerful and change the way we live. If that were true, it should’ve happened back when Hotmail started the trend for people to exchange information without requiring their own physical server for storage. That innovation did change things, but it didn’t rock the world quite as much as contemporary cloud computing aficionados are making out.

In Australia, moving from on-premise storage to the cloud amongst small businesses is expected to drive a compound annual growth rate of 16.6 percent by 2016. For this very reason we have some very big players either starting their own ventures to capitalise on the rush to the cloud, and others who are investing massive amounts to expand their already considerable reach into information technological market.

Cloud computing is not new in concept, but it is in the way it has evolved to be designed around different business needs. We now have an information management option that allows businesses to store information remotely, allow access through infinite channels and ensure the data is kept in real time.

The secret of cloud computing is ensuring you have defined the challenge/opportunity you’re seeking to solve.

The biggest mistake would be to move everything to the cloud without planning. Storage is cheap these days. Be selective and strategic, plan what, how and who can access information.

Some of the biggest benefit is the ability for the cloud to unlock the potential of staff and drive true collaborative activities on various projects. Where an organisation may struggle to facilitate a culture of knowledge sharing, the cloud may breach this barrier and create more incentive for individual staff to share ideas.

When assessing how your organisation might use a cloud, remember what it’s there for. Providing you are looking at A-grade providers, their security is probably better than your own. Storage can be accessed through a decentralised channel, but the more you store, the more expensive it gets and harder to find what you need! Being selective with the kind of information that is stored and the personnel you allow to access it can ultimately drive return on investment much faster.

– Neil Glentworth is managing director of Glentworth, an information management specialist firm which helps organisations identify better ways to maximise efficiencies, minimise risk and ultimately grow their business value.

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