Binghamton Chamber of Commerce Learns about the Cloud
The Binghamton, NY, Chamber of Commerce recently held a panel discussion to help its members learn “How to Navigate the Cloud.” Michael Coppola, CEO of Paper Alternative, Inc. not only served on the discussion panel, but also sponsored the event.
Panelists included: Kevin Blake, Moderator, ICS Solutions Group; Travis Hayes, ICS Solutions Group; John Wrona, Finger Lakes Technologies Group; Don Patterson, The Partners Insurance and Financial Services.
After the event, Michael and I talked about the topics that were discussed in this presentation, as well as the questions that were asked by the Chamber members. One of the things that Michael pointed out to me is the similarity of the questions that are asked about the Cloud, no matter what organization he presents to.
“No matter what organization we present to, when it comes to discussing the Cloud concept with businesses who are unfamiliar with the Cloud, there seem to be universal concerns and misconceptions that crop up time and time again. Maybe you out to write a blog post about it!”
Well said, Michael!
So here is our attempt to address some of these common questions, concerns and misconceptions for new-comers to the Cloud…
- What, exactly is the Cloud? Gartner provided a definition back in 2009 that holds today: "a style of computing in which massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided 'as a service' using Internet technologies to multiple external customers."
- What’s that mean in laymen’s terms? Simply put, the Cloud, Cloud Computing, and Cloud Technologies all refer to self-service interfaces that let businesses acquire IT resources at any time and add to them or get rid of them based upon current need. As such, they can save businesses money by reducing, or even eliminating the need for capital expenditures and IT personnel.
- If we’re using the Internet for our data, doesn’t that mean we can be hacked? Does flying in an airplane mean that you’re going to crash? Just as airplane crashes make the news because they’re big and happen infrequently, successful hacking events make the news because they’re big and infrequent (when you consider the massive amounts of data that can be accessed via the Internet). In fact, various studies have shown that individuals and businesses who rely on paper files are more likely to have data breaches and security lapses than those who use secure Cloud technologies and robust passwords to store and access their data.
- If there are multiple customers on the Cloud, can they see my data? No. So called “public clouds” do not mean that your data is public. Public clouds are like a huge upscale apartment building…many tenants, but with a secure lobby; key-operated elevators; and each tenant has a separate apartment with a locked door and secure walls that separate his belongings from everyone else’s. Only you and the trusted people you give keys to can enter your space.
- Is cloud computing the same as software-as-a-service? Software as a service (SaaS) is a delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. The basic idea of a SaaS/Cloud is that both the software and infrastructure you’re using are on-demand and usually in a pay-as-you-go format.
- I’m a small business -- why would I want Cloud computing? The advantages of using cloud computing apply to both large and small businesses: (1) Reduction of Costs; (2) Improved Efficiencies; (3) Anytime, anywhere access; (4) Ease of collaboration; (5) Reduced risk. Interestingly, though, cloud computing may help to level the field between small businesses and larger businesses. What this means is that since small businesses generally spend a larger percentage of their gross income on business infrastructure (equipment, people) than large businesses do, the financial and workflow advantages of Cloud computing may actually confer a greater benefit to small business than to large.
I asked Michael what one thing he wanted readers of this blog post to remember.
“Take the time to explore new technologies. Most vendors, including Paper Alternative, are happy to provide personalized demos so can see how the technology would work in your business.