At first thought, cloud computing reminds me of the old concept of a flow chart that would have this big box that said “and something happens here” when no one could figure out the right process to show or how to solve the problem.
Defining Cloud Computing
Cloud computing isn’t quite like that…it isn’t something that just happens…but done right it IS basically something that sort of “just happens.” Like the internet…you turn your computer on and there it is and your connected to information, networks, servers somewhere else, a remote printer, etc. You don’t really worry about it, it’s there. And that’s the concept of cloud computing.
Cloud means Internet. The computing takes place on the Internet – in place of the software you use executing on your desktop pc, it’s hosted on the Internet on a server installed in a data centre usually staffed by people who are experts in managing technology. This type of “cloud” software is sometimes called “on demand” or Software as a Service (SaaS).
I was watching an online video the other day where some IT industry experts were asked what cloud computing meant to them. You can view that video here.
It’s funny how it means something a little different to everyone and some of them were at a loss of words to describe which gives you an idea of how new it still is to everyone…and yet how simple the concept really is. And that’s mostly what it is…a concept.
After all, the cloud idea came from the image used to display the concept of the Internet in diagrams. Like a big cloud that we connect to not caring really what is in that cloud and how we get information and services from it. Back to the video I was watching…one individual described it simply as…”if you need more than your laptop and an Internet connection, then it’s not cloud computing."
Cloud Computing and the Small Business
So what does cloud computing mean to small businesses? What does it mean for their? At a minimum, this is what I believe it means to me as a project manager when considering the small businesses and startups that I’ve worked with:
- New web-based testing processes (see my article on startup Skytap teaming with HP)
- Web-based project management software (ProjectOffice.net, Liquid Planner, MindManager, etc.)
- Greener project management and greener business processes
- Lower costs
- Elimination of unnecessary hardware
- Incredible scalability
- Ease of information sharing between team members and with owners/managers
- Rapid dashboard info on your portfolio of projects
- Information sharing through wiki’s, etc.
- More remote management is possible
- Meetings using web-based tools
- Add-on software part of the cloud and not a requirement for your customer to have loaded on his users’ machines
To me, as a Project Manager, cloud computing means a more green, less costly, and more carefree processing environment for the customer. Does this mean a more carefree and less costly implementation? Possibly less costly, but from and implementation or project manager perspective I don’t believe it’s any more carefree. Everything must still be tested, everything still must work upon deployment, and everything must still be supported.