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An interesting report from Gartner states we are now in “the midst of a fundamental shift, as more enterprises start to use services enabled by cloud technologies”. Gartner goes on to state that “ This will heavily impact IT services providers, who must now consider strategies for coping with profound changes in the marketplace or risk being left behind”.

The Gartner document uses lots of technical speak that an SME business will not necessarily understand however Michael Carter (Director at Cardium Outsourcing who manage and own the “YourOfficeAnyWhere” brand) has addressed this in this blog post.

Historically (and I do mean many years ago) businesses would have provided their own power generation, courier services and accountancy services for example. We don’t call these “outsourced” in fact we would think it odd if someone referred to their postal service as “outsourced” it is just a service provided by another supplier. This is where the IT industry is now heading.

There are lots of providers (just search Google and you will find them) who will offer exactly the same products that YourOfficeAnyWhere offers – EmailAnywhere (Microsoft Hosted Exchange), DocumentsAnywhere (Microsoft SharePoint) TelephonesAnywhere (Hosted VOIP telephone system). The product set above is what we would call a “boxed product”. i.e.. something like Sage software that comes in a box and will do exactly what it states on the box, but nothing else. Setting up an infrastructure like this is fairly straight forward as all email users, document management users and telephony customers (to a lesser extent) all do exactly the same thing. Email users may want to share their calendars or may want to have a shared contact folder for the whole company. This functionality is built into the product and doesn’t require any “specialist” skills to deploy once you know how to do it. Obviously the “cloud service provider” will require a high tech data centre (you want to know your data is safe), enterprise class server hardware (you want to know the system is running on a server that will be running 24/7) and technical skills to fix an issue if it arises however this is a standard “cloud offering”.

Where Cardium believes that there is a gap in these offerings (and this was also confirmed in the Gartner document) is that businesses want more than just email and documents in the cloud. Lots of businesses have technology that won’t sit on a traditional “cloud” solution mentioned above. For example an in house developed database or even Sage for example. These applications require fast connectivity between the user that is inputting this data into the system and the back end file system or database the information is stored in. The application may need to send emails out and create a word document to be printed. Gartner calls this “infrastructure utility” and Gartner expects that 20% of infrastructure utility worldwide (our “ApplicationsAnywhere” product) will be based in the cloud by 2015.

YourOfficeAnyWhere utilising “ApplicationsAnywhere” allows businesses to get the benefits of the “cloud” without having to re-write their internal systems. Gartner lists the following as benefits of the cloud to businesses:-

Pay for what you use (theoretically)

  • Costs derive from an operational budget
  • More basic functionality that you really need, not bells and whistles that you might need
  • No operational management worries
  • No infrastructure overhead/management
  • Midterm lower total cost of ownership (TCO) (theoretically)
  • Faster implementations
  • Easier integration (theoretically)
  • Less performance (because 80% of people don’t need 80% of the functionality in software)
  • Lower potential cost (because people like paying less for things)
  • Theoretically, you pay only for what you use (because people are currently paying for a lot of technology they don’t use)
  • It’s delivered via the provider’s servers (because people have figured out that they use only 20% of their server capacity)
  • It’s managed by the provider’s staff (because people have figured out that the biggest component cost of IT is people).

The YourOfficeAnyWhere view is that SME businesses have invested too much time, money and effort in their “on premise” systems that actually “run” their business. To throw this investment away and invest this in developing new applications that run as pure cloud based solution is not appealing to these businesses. The reasons for this are:-

  • Too early to develop new applications based on cloud development platforms such as Microsoft Azure;
  • To develop on these platforms is cost prohibitive;
  • Cloud based development may not provide all the features currently available to an on premise solution;

So YourOfficeAnyWhere with the ApplicationsAnywhere solution allows any business with pretty much any application[1] to access their business applications in the cloud, with all the benefits of the cloud mentioned by Gartner without the cost/time/issues of redeveloping the application to work as a cloud application. Porting to ApplicationsAnywhere is just like installing the application on a new PC. However the ApplicationsAnywhere customer application is installed once but accessed by multiple users rather than the just one user on the PC.

[1] The application must run on the Windows platform and also run in terminal services/remote desktop client/RDP