Cloudy with a chance of profit!

Microsoft cloud services are perfect for your business!

It is difficult to imagine a scenario where cloud computing would not save any sized business a great deal of expense, and therefore allow that company to make more money and spend more time doing exactly what they do.

In the smallest of scenarios lets say that you are a business with just a few people involved and you have the need to communicate with one another. Lets also assume that you have the need to be mobile because you don't exactly have an office - you are in fact the new improved "lean mean virtual company". Your needs may look like this:

  • The ability to communicate by eMail
  • The ability to work on shared documents
  • The ability to conduct web-conferences and meetings
  • The ability to check your eMail / calendar and contacts from anywhere you are.
  • The ability to have all your eMail / calendar / contacts / tasks and notes all synchronized to your phone.
  • In simpler terms you need access to your stuff any time and anywhere.

Lets just leave it at that for now ... I'm sure you can think up some additional requirements. Basically you have three possible choices

  1. On Premesis - Get a Small Business Server, connect it to the internet and start setting things up to work.
  2. Hosted - Try to find an ISP (Internet service provider) that meets all of these needs. (Good luck)
  3. Leverage the cloud by using Services already running and avilable.

The on premesis solution is one I'm quite familiar with - I've done a lot of that and I can tell you that you'll spend a minimum of 3000.00 on a decent server running Microsoft Small Business Server. The good news is that Small Business Server has all the stuff you need - it is just costly to configure. This costly configuration can be outsources, but will cost thousands to implement and then some on-going costs to keep it running. Even if to save money you "host" it in your home office with a fixed IP internet connection you are still conservatively north of $10,000.00 in cost.

The hosted situation is one that I've avoided because it is VERY difficult to find a good hosted solutions provider. Hosting a simple web site or application isn't too much trouble, and its pretty easy to find eMail hosting, but when you start trying to integrate documents and custom business process stuff it falls short. I will say that this can be a good solution for a small business becasue the cost can be so low. I just hope for your sake that you find the right hosting provider.

And the winner is ...

The cloud is perfect for this solution ... in fact you can get it all for less than $20.00 per person each month with Microsoft. Microsoft is commited to the cloud and the offer excellent solutions:

You get the power of Exchange for email, contacts, calendaring, notes and tasks which can be accessed from your computer, someone elses computer using the web interface and even from your phone!

You get the power of Sharepoint for managing the documents in your business and the use of Net Meeting to conduct virtual meetings when you need to.

The best news of all is that all the interfaces are designed to be simple to manage. All the complex stuff is taken care of - you just setup your users and start working immediately!


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