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The Cloud is a journey, not a destination.
I spent the last several days at the Citrix partner conference in California with some of the Virsage team. During those days we had some great conversations regarding business, technology, sales and our personal lives as well. One of the stand out sessions discussed some research conducted by a Citrix marketing team across small and medium businesses. During the research, the team asked businesses what their definition of "The Cloud" is. The wide range of answers, some being very comical from an IT/Geek perspective, showed that we still have a long way to go in educating the non-technical portion of the business world not only to what the Cloud is but more importantly the business benefits. The researchers also went on to show data that indicates that business owners and managers are interested in learning how the Cloud will help their business today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future.
The Cloud is not a single thing and differs from any technology that businesses or people have seen before. Many people over simplify the definition of the Cloud with a tongue and cheek definition such as, "There is no such thing as the Cloud, only someone else's computer." To try and define the Cloud in a physical type of definition such as a someone else's computer, just doesn't work. The Cloud is a more abstract entity that combines and bundles servers, networks, applications, and people to help both people and businesses reach their goals and consume information at a price that is charge based upon usage. A similar analogy would be the "Electrical Grid" or "Electrical Cloud" that combines resources such as wind, solar, coal, with power plants, stations and transmission lines to create the current that powers your toaster. On a personal level the Cloud can help you become healthier. By using Cloud based devices such as a smart watch, the Cloud quickly enables you to track your activity through the day, provides historical reporting and reminds you to get out of your chair and go for a walk. The Cloud can also make businesses healthier. By using applications that are connected to the Cloud, businesses can quickly have instant insight to customer information from any device, identify trends across business units, and respond to notifications from customers or vendors regardless of their location.
Thinking of the cloud more in terms of a journey may help bring it into context. A first step to the cloud can be something as simple as signing up for a free Outlook.com email address. Later, more Cloud services such as Office365 with its business productivity applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Skype for Business can be added to the same Outlook.com account. When business leads are getting more difficult to handle, Microsoft Dynamics365 can be added to the account to track and respond to new leads and customer orders. Citrix ShareFile can be added to provide a secure means for sharing and storing documents such as customer quotes, drawings, etc. All of these applications can be accessed and secured using the same set of credentials from any device whether it is Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux or pretty much any other operating system out there. Ten years ago, it would have taken months/years and a lot of up front money to make that journey. Today it can be done in a day. That journey is the Cloud and as long as your business is growing, it will be there. The Cloud is a journey, not a destination.