Monday, 28 September 2009

Cloud Starting to Catch On

This month we had our first customer in Hong Kong go 100% Cloud. Yep, no Windows servers, no database applications, no backup tapes or backup devices, and also he has "no worries". So you are asking "have they got anything?".
  • Email, including 10 Years of archive and message discovery
  • Intranet Site
  • VoIP & Chat
  • Word processing, spreadsheets and presentation tools
  • HR management including workflow for forms such as "Apply Leave", "Travel Expense"etc
  • CRM in both English and Simplified Chinese
  • Project Management
My client wants to expand in China and the Cloud offered him the best way to do this. His cost savings at start up were over 65% when compared to the traditional file server etc offered by others. This was a new business so conserving cash was a big issue for them. Out of the various consultants they worked with I offered the most flexible and forward thinking approach. The cost of IT is now a set fixed cost per employee, per year. If they expand they just add a user. If they wish to downsize they simply do not renew some licenses.

The model works and it was up and running in record time.

Single Sign On (SSO)

As you look closer into Cloud Computing you will also the appreciate the need to have a Single Sign On for users of various Cloud services. To do this you can adopt OpenID's or can use an OpenID provider such as Google so only one provider manages your ID information and none of the other providers have this in their system, they simply make a call to Google who confirm's the information. Other hosted web providers can then leverage that single sign in across a range of applications on the web.

If you wish to integrate to legacy Windows Active Directory services then this can be done in two ways. One is during the initial phase of populating Google's directory via API's provided by Google. For ongoing management of this environment there are providers than now provide this service. We are working with one now.

On Demand Storage

I was also interested to see in a recent report that 46% of CIO's questioned would seriously consider using the Cloud for storage in the near future rather than purchasing an endless cycle of storage. In Hong Kong it is common for many companies to rent storage space for their documents (even when the laws in Hong Kong support keeping an electronic or digital copy and destroying the paper documents), so why would they not rent space to store their digital files?

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Latitude from Google

Google with Latitude?

Latitude - Big Brother - Time Saving Business Tool - Social Fun?

Let's hear what Google say about it:

“Latitude is a new feature for Google Maps on your mobile device. It’s also an iGoogle gadget on your computer. Once you’ve opted in to Latitude, you can see the approximate location of your friends and loved ones who have decided to share their location with you. So now you can do things like see if your spouse is stuck in traffic on the way home from work, notice that a buddy is in town for the weekend, or take comfort in knowing that a loved one’s flight landed safely, despite bad weather.”

As Google points out, you can only track those that have agreed to be your Latitude pal. “Everything about Latitude is opt-in. You not only control exactly who gets to see your location, but you also decide the location that they see.”

Google Latitudes started as a service that managed to obtain your location and shared it with a group of people, who also revealed their locations. The service was available as part of the mobile Google Maps application or as an iGoogle gadget.

To make the information stored in Google Latitude more useful, you can now display it on a web page, in a feed or add it as a constantly-updated Google Talk status. The location can be added to a badge and embedded on any web page, but there's also an option to get a list of the most recent locations as a KML or JSON feed. Since you may not want to share your precise location, Google Latitude has an option to display the city-level location.

We use it in house to track our sales people's location just incase we have an urgent request we know where each person is. We also find this very useful when locating our technical support staff. We can locate them without calling or interrupting them and send a request to the engineer closest to our customer. This improves our customer service levels.

The staff can also check on each other when it is lunch time and agree where to meet. It is a very useful tool as it works from your mobile phone also.