August 28, 2016

The beauty with Cloud

The beauty of Cloud...

Not only are they amazing formations of condensed water floating around in the sky, creating dramatic views,  protecting us from direct sunlight, sometimes carrying snow or rain - the clouds, visible from far away.

Clouds that with a little bit of imagination can become whole cities, teddy bears, trolls, miners, dragons and tiny little fairies. 

Then there is also the other thing with Cloud. Cloud from an IT perspective. 

Cloud for storage and cloud for running software as a service, SaaS. 

I am not sure how and when it sneaked up on me, the cloud, I think it was just something that happened, over time. I remember being suspicious, and then suddenly realising I was a convinced user without understanding how that happened - a bit like when I started to eat olives - I will tell you about that in a separate post, some other time. 

The cloud was really just sneaking up on me, it just happened. 

It started a long time ago, really - and the first steps was, I guess, storing everything on the server - it just made it easier to both switch computer and to recover from crashes - like that time when me and my poor computer got drenched by a tropical rain. I survived but my computer didn't, another story for another time...  

The support team at work had a spare computer for me a day later, and another two weeks later I had a new computer. All the data intact, just took some effort to set up getting the data that had been synced onto a specific server to sync back with my PC - time consuming because I had so much documents and I had to be on the LAN when I started the full sync - and never the less it was far better than having data stored locally. I was very happy I had insisted on setting my computer up that way, when most of the others had manual backups they did, now and then, to an external hard drive. Not me, I used the server.

No manual work where automation makes sense!  

At home I still stored information locally though, stored it locally and worked with it locally - with backup, but not synced.
I used open source software - call me cheap but I didn't want to buy expensive Microsoft Office licenses, I couldn't see the value, not for my home computer and what I did at home, so I used my Open Office and stored everything locally and I was happy with that.   

Until I started to work a lot together with other people, and share documents, also from home - then it got silly, not the least keeping track of version numbers - and sharing documents via the cloud started to make sense, and suddenly I realised that I had moved almost completely to the cloud. I don't store any documents being worked on on a computer anymore, I have it all in the cloud, meaning I can access them from the device I sign in from and from wherever I am. Extremely convenient! Of course I still make sure I have secure password, use 2 factor authentication and so forth - but I can reach my documents from wherever I am!

I can understand that some big organisations prefer to have an internal cloud for certain data, data they don't WANT to be accessible from everywhere for the users who have access, I can.

But for myself and for companies not handling very special data, as well as companies that aren't very big or have very special requirements I can basically only see advantages with the cloud.
  • No crazy software updates to deal with. 
Done enough late night or weekend updates, when everyone else was off to appreciate THAT. Scheduling downtime isn't fun, and there is always someone coming in last minute wanting to postpone the update. Even if it was a long time since I was personally responsible for those kinds of planned outages, you'd always be on standby or sitting somewhere worrying how it would go and if there would be any business impact. 
  • No expensive hardware that needs to be refreshed on a regular basis.
Seriously, hardware. Of course, with virtual servers there is anyhow less of a need - it's really been quite a while since the days when everything was on dedicated physical servers, one per important software. Never the less, not having to worry about hardware and how often servers need to get refreshed - such a relief! Especially for smaller organisations or organisations where IT isn't the main business. 
  • When the power goes down in one area - and power goes down from time to time, in most areas, even if it's short power cuts because of weather etc - well, guess what,  you are using a cloud service you don't really notice (unless, that is, the power cut is where YOU are sitting and you don't have power for your computer...)
  • Backups. And redundancy 
Just the fact that you don't have to have a backup strategy internally and worry about when what goes to which off site storage and when - because a backup that just backs to the system next to the other system is not very useful - seen too many natural disasters and too many water damages for that... That in itself is reason enough for me to prefer cloud services, not as a private person but as a company.  Yes, of course, you still need to know if you have critical data and how that's managed but you don't need to do the actual work yourself. 

Of course there are some disadvantages as well, I see that not the least when I am travelling and don't have network access. When I am on the road I need to download a copy to my computer - when ttravelling around at least Germany the phone network isn't always up to par, and I don't trust that I will have working WiFi connection everywhere.

No connection is annoying.

However, for what I get it is worth it, I can download documents temporarily if it is documents I am going to work on when on the road, or I use software that syncs certain docs automatically - just plan ahead.

All in all: Cloud services are, at least to me, a fantastic thing. I don't put everything in the cloud, however I really like to use the cloud to be able to access my documents, photos and much more from different devices, and I love to not have to keep track of version numbers.

I also love being able to get the latest and the greatest of the software available. Not for everything, but where it makes sense. It doesn't make sense when it comes to photo software for me, for example, I don't use it enough to want to pay a monthly fee - although then again I am mainly a Linux user and for Linux there is fantastic open source software available, so I don't need to buy from the big giant. For anything where there is a business justification I wouldn't hesitate a second.

Because with the cloud, everything is so beautifully scalable. 

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