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Outsourcing networks can save firms money


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POSTED: Sunday, November 01, 2009

Technology is replete with buzzwords, and one of the most popular nowadays is “;cloud computing.”; What exactly does this mean and why should you care?

First off the definition: Cloud computing means getting your computer resources - software and applications, etc. - accessed on demand from the Internet. (In network schematics, the Internet is always diagrammed as a cloud.)

What this means is that your office no longer needs to maintain hardware components such as servers and backup drives. All you essentially need is a workstation and a connection to the Internet. All the computing power and applications are off-site and outsourced.

So, back to why you should care.

For starters, it can save you money. “;Even a small business of around 10 to 15 employees can save up to 40 to 50 percent in capital cost and a great deal on operational expenses such as IT personnel,”; says Mike Meyer, founder of Honolulu-based Islanda Tech, Hawaii's leading provider of managed cloud services. “;Businesses no longer have to buy new computers every few years, and if something breaks, you can replace it with a used machine.”;

Security, says Meyer, is another reason to be in the cloud. All documents are stored off-site and out of harm's way. If a tsunami hits or your office burns down, you can still access your files immediately. This is particularly an issue with nonprofits, medical or accounting firms and other firms that need to comply with federal reporting laws. Cloud systems also limit what your employees can download. “;You won't,”; says Meyer, “;have out-of-control employees clogging up the system with YouTube videos, X-rated material, music files, etc.”;

Cloud systems are also instantly scalable. Let's say you need more storage or memory for a new application. All you do is phone the administrator, and the system can be reconfigured instantly. This comes in handy for fast-growing companies or those that are local distributors for mainland manufacturers. By using a cloud service company, you can quickly scale to a client's needs and have a full IT staff to support even the smallest business.

Cloud computing also makes your business virtual. Employees can work at home or from overseas. The KNG Group LLC, a Honolulu-based waste management company, recently moved all of its applications and files to the cloud, including 12 desktops and four laptops. Sue Gourlay, vice president, often travels to England and regularly checks up on operations from London.

When you're cloud computing, just about anything is possible.

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Cliff Miyake, general manager in Honolulu for tw telecom, can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).