Written by Douglas W. Grosfield – President & CEO, Xylotek Solutions Inc.
Just like its namesake, Cloud looks solid from afar, all soft and fluffy. Up close however, the vapour is difficult to grasp, much less see clearly. I’ve seen many differing articles and opinion pieces on the technology called Cloud Computing over the last few years, and it’s no surprise that clarity still escapes Canadian businesses.
Cloud Computing can be defined as using a network of servers and storage, located on the Internet, to house and run your applications and data, rather than doing so on your own premises with your own IT infrastructure. If you think Cloud Computing is a new concept, think again. Consider how long ago many of us used an aol.com or yahoo.com email address! Email and backups hosted on the Internet have been around for a very long time. In recent years the concepts behind delivering those technologies as a service are being extended to include almost any conceivable IT need!
Some of the many benefits to adopting Cloud Computing to any degree would include:
- Changing IT expenditures to operating expenses rather than capital expenditures
- Significant cost savings from eliminating the need to invest in the physical infrastructure, software licensing, or the costs of housing and operating the IT environment
- Performance levels of applications could far exceed what you could afford internally, as it runs on an infrastructure designed to run hundreds or thousands of times the workload
Unfortunately, in the tech world, “ease” for the consumer almost always means higher cost to support and maintain. Complexities on the back-end are immense in order to configure, implement and maintain the massive infrastructure a Cloud provider requires. Guess who pays for that? That’s right-the consumer. Do your homework, or work with an organization that can help you to fully understand the total cost of “ownership” as it applies to Cloud versus more traditional in-house methods.
Interest in Cloud Computing has been increasing among Canadian businesses, but many have been slow to adopt due to uncertainties. Here in The Great North, a recent study undertaken by CA Technologies shows that the US Patriot Act is among the top concerns for Canadian businesses reluctant to adopt Cloud Computing. The fear is that due to heightened security throughout the US, if we allow our data to reside in hosting facilities or data centres in the US, government/officials could adversely affect our businesses by seizing or locking out our access to our data as part of an investigation or reaction to a serious event there. While this concern has merit, it is typically overstated. The advent of solely Canadian owned and based Cloud Service Providers is helping to allay those concerns. The very best protection you can have is technology that encrypts your data before it even gets to the Cloud. This allows you to remain in control of how, and how well, your data is protected via encryption, and if it was to end up in someone else’s hands for any reason, it would therefore appear as gibberish. Security becomes even more critical when you consider that hackers/attackers are starting to move to the cloud to take advantage of the scalability that is possible.
The Cloud is rapidly approaching! Understand the technology and associated risks and work with your IT advisors to determine if/when/how your business can benefit from adoption.
Douglas W. Grosfield is President & CEO of Xylotek Solutions Inc., a full service IT solutions provider serving clients’ needs throughout North America for hardware, software and professional services. Xylotek helps clients to augment their internal IT department to be more effective and efficient, reduce their IT spend as well as outsource all of their IT requirements from helpdesk to CIO and everything in between. Winning awards such as Best Tech Workplace (1st place in Canada), and 3rd overall in North America, placing in 2008 and 2009 on the Profit HOT50 Emerging Growth Companies lists, the 2011 Profit 200 Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies list, and the 2011 North American Service Providers Fast Growth 100 list, as well as being a 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year nominee, Xylotek continues to achieve recognition as a trailblazer providing best-in-class offerings to its diverse client base.