While in Best Buy purchasing L.A. Noire for PS3 on release day, I perused the selection of external hard drives as I’m going to have to replace my backup media server soon. I found myself engaged in a casual discussion with the sales associate about Macs, and I mentioned that our entire office is a Mac shop.
Curious, he asked what kind of servers we’re running to support them. He was amazed at my response: we run everything in the cloud. And yes, I mean everything.
I briefly described the suite of tools that support all of our business activities, including Basecamp, Google Apps, Box.net, Skype, Fuze Meeting, and Yammer. I also told him about Raidious Control, with its iPad- and iPhone-controlled interface.
The guy was green with envy, saying how he’d love to work in an environment like that: all Apple hardware, no servers to maintain, and of course the Big Board.
This exchange got me thinking about how right he was. Raidious is truly the office of the future, right now. Every kind of communication, collaboration and management is accessible no matter where we are in the world. Rather than a team of IT staffers, one person (our VP of Operations, Brian Wyrick) can manage and maintain our intraoffice resources. And it all just works.
To many in enterprise IT, placing the core management of infrastructure in the hands of third parties may sound like a frightening proposition. We all know the horror stories of cloud-based services suffering outages or attacks. But much like airplane crashes these incidents are deceiving, in that their high profile is purely a result of their infrequency.
I can’t speak to actual numbers, but anecdotally I can safely say that our uptime at Raidious is significantly better than any other organization in which I’ve worked that managed its own IT infrastructure. In fact, every outage I can think of has been a result of some fourth-party platform (Facebook, Twitter) being down, rather than the monitoring and management tools we use.
Cloud-based services for the enterprise can also save untold amounts of money each year by eliminating the need for hardware purchasing. There’s no need to upgrade servers and software every two or three years, because Google et. al. take care of it at no charge to us.
We also benefit from a large developer community contributing time and knowledge to new applications. While we do run into limitations and the occasional desire for features that aren’t currently included, we spend time getting work done rather than reinventing the wheel with the creation of custom applications.
Especially in the case of a start-up company, the benefits vastly outweigh the disadvantages. I can only imagine what the IT budgets of an enormous enterprise would look like were they to adopt the same philosophy.