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The Cloud - and other disruptive Information Technology

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
There's lots of talk these days about cloud computing, the end of the PC era, etc etc. SaaS e-mail (if I'm using those terms correctly) seems like the thin end of a very long wedge. Are document hosting, ERP, corporate databases (those that aren't already hosted, that is), even CAD next?

ITT please discuss your thoughts and, if available, your experience with the next generation of hosted applications and cloud computing. All perspectives welcome - user, manager, etc.
post #2 of 43
Thread Starter 
I'll start with two things that are on my mind right now: Corporate gmail costs almost nothing. We have an Exchange server right now. It costs a small fortune in comparison. I can see a clear cost advantage in going with gmail... but we give up any illusions of control (what happens if gmail goes down? we're sure as hell not going to raise anyone on the phone) and frankly, I'm scared of what they might be doing with the data. Am I out of touch? Also: Someone mentioned private corporate wikis to me the other day. in some ways, these sound like a great idea - easily searchable stores of all manner of corporate information. I suppose there are dangers - someone could leave and take the whole damned thing with them. I suppose it would also require a culture change and a certain critical mass to get going - anyone looked at the SF wiki lately? But does anyone have any success stories to share and/or advice?
post #3 of 43
Salesforce is a great example of this on all fronts. They aslo eat their own dogfood.
post #4 of 43
Also interested in hearing opinions on corporate gmail. My small company is debating a exchange server and I am lobbying for the gmail option.
post #5 of 43
Quote:
ITT please discuss your thoughts and, if available, your experience with the next generation of hosted applications and cloud computing. All perspectives welcome - user, manager, etc.
I'm going to assume that you're talking about applications running on third party webservers. From a support standpoint, they all suck. I don't need to get called and yelled at because a third party app over which I have zero control is broken, and yet I will. Management didn't want to pay for a more expensive but easily supportable solution? Not my problem. You wish your word doc would open quicker? Sorry, I can't open the remote machine and do performance work on it. Your internet's down and you can't access anything? Again, not my fault. Google randomly lost your file? I wish I could restore it from tape... OH WAIT.

Are there benefits? Sure. As people have pointed out corporate Gmail is dirt cheap. But, running an e-mail server isn't as expensive as people are making it. And you have the benefit of being able to do whatever it is that may need fixing or tweaking. Not to mention security. Also, if the damn guv'mnt catches you sending personal data over Gmail (HIPAA, SSN, etc.) you can be in for a world of legal problems.
post #6 of 43
Couple of observations: Salesforce.com is only as good as the information you put into it but it can be a good tool. Lots of great people don't like the data entry part of their jobs. I'm being kind here. Oracle sucks. I'm amazed how rich Ellison is given his dogshit software. We use his databases with a CA overlay. Absolutely horrid GUI. You enter a number for hours and it literally takes 5 seconds before the number gets entered and the GUI lets you move to the next cell. Control of email would be a risk. Controls allows you to install the best security (gmail may be okay here) and figure out how to send email to different platforms. As for the cloud terminology I think it is just a really great rebrandings as SaaS.
post #7 of 43
One more thing: SharePoint and other file sharing hubs for documents are really necessary and valued in consulting teams. We have teams all over the globe working on projects and having a place that shows the latest documents and other work products is superb.
post #8 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Artisan Fan View Post
One more thing: SharePoint and other file sharing hubs for documents are really necessary and valued in consulting teams. We have teams all over the globe working on projects and having a place that shows the latest documents and other work products is superb.

Subversion or git respositories accomplish exactly this, along with branching and many other things. That your IT people don't know about them or can't figure out a good way to implement them doesn't mean it's time to jump onto a third-party remote vendor.
post #9 of 43
Well, I think the real threat of litigation that drives document retention policies and such is pushing more and more data to to network-hosted solutions, of course in concert with backup policies -- so that everything that should be kept is backed-up, and everything that is "expired" is really and truly gone. In a way, some companies are already turning their 'workstations' more into terminals than standalone computers -- just using processing power locally, but storage remotely. That's what I see for the near-term future -- 90% of storage will be remote, on servers, and local machines will be more liker terminals of old; their local processing power will be limited to enough to do word-processing and such, like those All-In-One integrated machines, but people who need to crunch real numbers, say on the CAD/CAE end, will have additonal access to local clusters as well as really great graphics abilities on their local 'terminal stations.' Moore's law is obsolteing workstations that can't keep up, so 1Gbit and higher Intranets can captialize on modular clusters that are easily-upgradeable to give high-end users access to the best processing power, while low-end users have terminal stations that have enough power for everyday tasks -- but all non-scratch data will be network-hosted. ~H
post #10 of 43
TO THE CLOUD!!!! Yeah, we're never adopting gmail for corporate.. or anything other than MS suite for the forseeable future - but our IT does support all kinds of mobile devices for corporate e-mail, as long as they are company controlled. I have to say, the functionality of the full corporate MS package with IM, LM, SP, LN, all that stuff is actually very decent.
post #11 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by deadly7 View Post
Subversion or git respositories accomplish exactly this, along with branching and many other things. That your IT people don't know about them or can't figure out a good way to implement them doesn't mean it's time to jump onto a third-party remote vendor.

What are you talking about? Our IT folks have made Sharepoint available and working very well.
post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Artisan Fan View Post
What are you talking about? Our IT folks have made Sharepoint available and working very well.

Ah. I misread. I thought you were saying you guys use a third party Sharepoint server and I was a bit confused. Sharepoint just sounds like a glorified repository, but whatever floats your guys' boats.
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huntsman View Post
Well, I think the real threat of litigation that drives document retention policies and such is pushing more and more data to to network-hosted solutions, of course in concert with backup policies -- so that everything that should be kept is backed-up, and everything that is "expired" is really and truly gone. In a way, some companies are already turning their 'workstations' more into terminals than standalone computers -- just using processing power locally, but storage remotely.

That's what I see for the near-term future -- 90% of storage will be remote, on servers, and local machines will be more liker terminals of old; their local processing power will be limited to enough to do word-processing and such, like those All-In-One integrated machines, but people who need to crunch real numbers, say on the CAD/CAE end, will have additonal access to local clusters as well as really great graphics abilities on their local 'terminal stations.'

Moore's law is obsolteing workstations that can't keep up, so 1Gbit and higher Intranets can captialize on modular clusters that are easily-upgradeable to give high-end users access to the best processing power, while low-end users have terminal stations that have enough power for everyday tasks -- but all non-scratch data will be network-hosted.

~H
Most companies where you have your own login information do this. With the extreme stability of NFS and Windows Roaming Profile, it makes it very easy for you to start work on Computer A, log off to go take lunch, and then resume your work on Computer B. It makes administering the computers easier, as well. Instead of having to run rsync (or some Windows equivalent) on 5,000 machines in the building, you can copy only one. There are two huge downsides to this kind of implementation, though. If a person downloads some sort of virus and/or malware, the more Windows-based computers he/she logs into the more you have to reformat to clean. And, in the case of a network outage in the building, you're kinda effed.

The smart thing is to find a mix, though. You don't want to have to SSH or Remote Desktop into a server to do things that are easily done on your local machine. You mentioned CAD/CAE -- this is a perfect example. In most cases, the ability of a powerful desktop is more than sufficient to run CAD software. However, if you get into extremely heavy computer graphics (Pixar, for example) desktops just can't keep up with it. In the latter cases, it's usually more advisable to remote into some sort of cluster.
post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas View Post
I'll start with two things that are on my mind right now:

Corporate gmail costs almost nothing. We have an Exchange server right now. It costs a small fortune in comparison. I can see a clear cost advantage in going with gmail... but we give up any illusions of control (what happens if gmail goes down? we're sure as hell not going to raise anyone on the phone) and frankly, I'm scared of what they might be doing with the data. Am I out of touch?

Also:

Someone mentioned private corporate wikis to me the other day. in some ways, these sound like a great idea - easily searchable stores of all manner of corporate information. I suppose there are dangers - someone could leave and take the whole damned thing with them. I suppose it would also require a culture change and a certain critical mass to get going - anyone looked at the SF wiki lately? But does anyone have any success stories to share and/or advice?


I work for a large department in the Australian public service.

Most of our workstations are "display terminals", in the sense that the vast amount of information that we access is stored in large drives elsewhere. Therefore, the terminals that we use can be quite simple - a bit of word processing power, the ability to log in to various databases and mainframe systems, internet access and e-mail and that's it. Even e-mail archives are stored in servers elsewhere. It certainly makes moving desks easier, as you don't have to worry about moving your PC with you.

My branch has a wiki, and it is excellent. I work in a small branch of only 25 or so people, and we all have "administrator" access to the wiki and we are thus able to edit it so as to add or change information. We can upload files and documents, post essays on topical issues and provide updates on procedural matters and that information is then immediately accessible to other members of the branch and, unlike disseminating such info by e-mail, it is easy to find and to access again. I'd highly recommend it, as long as any security concerns are overcome.
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
I work for a large department in the Australian public service. Most of our workstations are "display terminals", in the sense that the vast amount of information that we access is stored in large drives elsewhere. Therefore, the terminals that we use can be quite simple - a bit of word processing power, the ability to log in to various databases and mainframe systems, internet access and e-mail and that's it. Even e-mail archives are stored in servers elsewhere. It certainly makes moving desks easier, as you don't have to worry about moving your PC with you. My branch has a wiki, and it is excellent. I work in a small branch of only 25 or so people, and we all have "administrator" access to the wiki and we are thus able to edit it so as to add or change information. We can upload files and documents, post essays on topical issues and provide updates on procedural matters and that information is then immediately accessible to other members of the branch and, unlike disseminating such info by e-mail, it is easy to find and to access again. I'd highly recommend it, as long as any security concerns are overcome.
Journeyman, what kind of wiki do you guys use and how easy was it for people to learn to use it?
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