Thursday, October 13, 2016
All Roads Lead to The Cloud: Why On-Prim Software Makes Less and Less Sense
Today, that process is much different. Now, if you want a word processor, you simply open your web browser and go to a website run by Google, Microsoft, or a few others and subscribe to the software. There's nothing to download and you're always on the newest version immediately when it's released. Best of all, it's cheap. For example, subscribing to the Microsoft Office online suite, called Microsoft Office 365, costs only $6.99 per month. For that you get access to all of the Office applications through your web browser and the ability to install those applications on either your tablet or PC. You also get a terabyte of online storage so you don't need to worry about taxing your computer or tablets hard drive and your documents are always available to you wherever you happen to be.
Office productivity is only the beginning. As more and more software moves online, it seems there's no limit to what we'll be able to do while on the go. Gone are the days of lugging a heavy laptop around as you moved between locations. Most cloud based software runs perfectly fine in both laptop and mobile browsers and cloud storage means everything seamlessly moves with you. Software in the cloud also means that collaboration is dead simple. No more emailing files around or waiting to see what changes your colleague made to a file you sent them. The cloud often allows you, not only to share in an instant, but to watch the other party edit the file in real time.
With all of the benefits that cloud based software offers, one could logically ask the question 'is on-premises software going away?' and the answer is almost certainly 'yes, for most users'. It makes little sense for a home or small-office user to use locally installed software with all of the headaches it brings. For most people, it just makes more sense to push as much of their workflow to the cloud as possible. As web browsers get better and Internet gets faster, we can even imagine high-end gaming moving to the cloud instead of sitting on a local machine.
For small businesses, on-prim software makes even less sense. A small business owner basically has two options when it comes to IT solutions: maintain it themselves or hire someone to do it for them. Both of those solutions add costs to the business that small businesses owners shouldn't have to take. Why should you take time from selling or developing your product just to update your software? That's money lost. Why should you pay someone $2500 a month or more just to babysit your computers and software? That's insane. Why not offload that headache to experts who are there to worry about it for you for a lot less money than you'd spend otherwise?
For large businesses, the cloud makes even more sense. Enterprises IT has a lot of moving parts. Software is in constant flux, keeping things patched is often a toss-up between security and inconvenience, and making sure your data and network are protected is costly. Handing that responsibility to someone like Microsoft or Amazon, or Google can, not only lessen the financial burden, but can offer some important additions to tools that you wouldn't ordinarily have with an on-prim setup. Microsoft Azure, for example, does everything from simple virtual machine hosting to full on big-data integration with artificial intelligence and large scale data analysis. Doing this on-prim could be prohibitive to all but the largest companies but it's achievable to everyone using the cloud.
In short, the cloud is only an option right now. You can still choose to keep everything local if you want and tend to it all yourself. In the future, and I suspect it's going to be the near future, the cloud is going to be a requirement. Companies are positioning their cloud offerings now. I could see a time in the future where Microsoft doesn't even offer a local version of Office, for example. It makes no sense for them to do so. Everything will be in the cloud. Everything will be easily and constantly accessible to everyone who needs it.
There will be challenges. While we've come a long way, there are some very important questions around security and availability that need to be answered before we rid the world of the plague of on-prim software. But we're getting there and we're getting there fast. That might be good and that might bad but it certainly will simply be at some point in the near future.
Are you ready for our cloud based future? It'll be here much sooner than you know. Get ready or get left behind.