Archive for October, 2008

Think online and offline to avoid getting stuck in the clouds

October 20, 2008

The Telegraph Media Group (TMG) recently announced it is not refreshing its current Microsoft Office, Exchange and Windows XP deployment and is instead moving about 1,400 internal users to cloud-based service Google Apps.

TMG’s decision to move into cloud computing – where IT-related capabilities are provided using internet technologies – could be indicative of a sea change.

More IT managers are considering a similar transition to desktop provision through the cloud, where employees can access applications and information through internet-enabled devices. For IT managers looking to the cloud, is there any major difference between online and offline provision?

The key benefits of an off-the-shelf package are well-rehearsed. Most employees will have spent most of their working lives adapting or using standard Microsoft Office packages.

Standardisation promotes usability, with workers able to benefit from working with an accepted format for spreadsheets or written documents. Such usability has helped cement Microsoft’s desktop dominance – until now.

Where as IT managers would previously have shied away from change, most now realise that best value requires an innovative and transformative approach.

Google Apps, for example, encourages collaboration. Users are able to benefit from a broad suite of applications, sharing and creating knowledge documents attached in Google Mail.

Cost is also an important factor. The Premier Edition of Google’s desktop service offers low-cost licensing and technical support, with bugs fixed and patches updated automatically.

Problems associated to storage are also removed, as information is stored in the cloud, rather than on a firm’s own resource-hungry servers.

But such a method can bring security concerns. Storing information centrally means IT managers need to be aware of potential dangers and ensure workers are trained.

And while TMG’s move into the cloud shows a leading-edge stance, mass adoption will rely on providers – such as Google – ensuring online applications have a familiar feel and high-specification functionality.

Working in the cloud also means users will need 24/7 access to the internet. Look for a provider that can match your demands, allowing workers to use cloud-based tools offline – because a drop in service availability can have damaging effects on productivity.

While the world gets carried away with rich internet experiences through Ajax and Web 2.0, users must remember the browser also serves a meaningful life offline – as well as online.

Google’s approach shows how businesses can create applications, whether workers are connected or disconnected – which has to a useful trick in helping your firm to stay ahead of the game.

And moving from the tried-and-trusted into the clouds should be all about increasing efficiency.


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