Sep 12 2010
I know the answer is open to interpretation but if you are a Geek like me you see a world of possibilities but not without a bit of careful planning and caution. Cloud Computing seems to be the on the forefront of innovative ideas in technology but we have been using it in a limited form for many years.
Cloud Computing is IP based computing that allows the sharing of resources: software, documents, other forms of information to computers and other devices (i.e. smart phones) on demand. The documents are simply saved to servers located at a central provider’s location and shared to other users you choose with permission you set. The provider maintains the infrastructure, backups, etc.. And most of these services are free.
Two of the biggest hitters in the game, Microsoft and Google (my favorite by the way) have taken the sharing of documents and information to the next level and still moving with it. Microsoft has a product called Office live and of course Google has Google Docs. I have setup accounts with both but truly I have only dedicated my time to one, Google Docs. Since I have given the majority of my time to Google Docs, that’s the one I am going to discuss first. I do plan to evaluate Office live in the near future but it all comes down to free time to test.
Google Docs allows you to save your documents, spreadsheets, power point, etc…. to Google servers associated with your Gmail account and share them to other Gmail users. They also have the ability to collaborate and make changes and additions to these documents for you and other team members to see. Google docs is available with a personal Gmail account and there is also a Google Business version of Google docs that allows you to use your own domain name with the setup allowing you to transition or use your Gmail account as your primary e-mail using that domain name. I currently have a Google Business account and use it daily several times a day. I am able to connect using my Blackberry and the techs are able to connect using Android without fail. Now we are able to share info, tech docs, and inventory spreadsheets on the fly and update using our smart phones saving invaluable time and moving all of us one step closer to using a smart device as our primary tool for connectivity and productivity.
Along with the ability to share information we also have the ability to share calendars as well as sync in real-time to those calendars using Google sync. No more data cables. I add the appointment to my phone and sync pushes it to my Google calendar and as well I use Outlook on my office PC ( because old habits are hard to break ) so I simply installed the Google sync tool on my PC and now I can have those same calendar entries pushed to my Outlook client. These are the same tools that we have relied on Exchange servers to do for us for years. And yes we had the capability to sync our Windows Mobile phone but we were limited to only Exchange and Exchange Active sync. Now we are free to use Blackberry, Android and even iPhones. And if you have ever had to setup an iPhone for Exchange connectivity, you had your skills cut out for you getting this to happen.
All in all, Cloud Computing using such tools as Google docs is defiantly worth the time to investigate but head this warning, It is imperative for you to take the time to sit down and evaluate how you want to use these tools and what types of information you will be making available to the cloud, Security is always a concern in Cloud computing just as it is in a Client-Server environment. They all have their Pros and Cons. You need to keep in mind that these documents exist on public IP servers. While Google and other companies go to great lengths to secure their infrastructures there still is a need for careful planning and policies as it is related to the Cloud and what type of data your will make available up there. The last thing you need is to make Trade Secrets available to someone waiting to crack your code and your check book to get your invaluable information, so plan wisely.
Next week I will be giving you a little more in depth view of Google docs..Stay Tuned..