Happy New Year – lets stick our heads in the cloud?

1 02 2012

Janine Dunlop

I hope everyone had a relaxing and rejuvenating break over Xmas. I think many of us needed a good break after what proved to be a dynamic year in the print industry. I can hardly believe that we are into February already.

This year starts off with changes for the Dunedin Sales team. We welcome Janine Dunlop and Phil Thornton to the fold as we bid a sad farewell to Leanne Downie after almost 8 years in sales support.

Phil Thornton

Both Janine and Phil have extensive experience with our logistics division and will bring that knowledge and experience  across to sales in 2012. I will introduce Phil and Janine to many of you over the coming few weeks, but let me know if you would like a priority intro and I will arrange this for you.

We are also hoping to bring you some good news regarding  upgrades in machinery and technology early in the new year……………….watch this space.

So all in all, a very exciting start to 2012.

Cloud Computing

The “cloud” seems to be on lots of “things to find out about” lists this year.

You have to chuckle at some of these IT terms. IT folk just seem to revel in coming up with terms that evoke mystery. Put very simply “the  cloud”  just means that data, software or IT  is located outside you business (or personal computer if you are operating from home) and accessed via the internet.

A good example, of a simple cloud based solution, is google’s Gmail. In fact, google offers a bunch of cloud based software such as google docs, google sites, google reader etc that are all cloud based and free. Microsoft is also getting on board with MS Office Web apps  – which is a free version of the popular Office suite (although all are cut down versions). This blog is written with cloud based software (the wonderful WordPress) and past posts are stored in the cloud.

Of course the idea of off-site software, data storage and IT is nothing new……so why all the recent fuss. Well, again, it’s largely due to our good friends the smart phone and the ipad. These devices have really made data much more accessable over the past two years. People want to access applications and files wherever they are and on a variety of devices. If your data is stored in the cloud – then it  can easily be accessed from any of your devices (laptop, desktop, ipad, smart phone). There is no need to synchronise files every time you get back to your desktop.

This has  also driven a demand for multiple presentation formats of the same data. For instance, a web site may look great on a desktop screen, however, could need to have a completely different design to make it easy to read and navigate on a smart phone or other mobile device. This is driving a whole new field of opportunities for IT developers and web designers.

Many people (and businesses) are opting for cloud based software as it also removes a lot of the hassle around maintaining software and hardware. Just think – no more expensive upgrades to keep up to date, no more hanging around waiting for the back up tape and dropping it off somewhere safe. No need to buy or replace servers to keep a handle on the ever-growing amount of information that businesses store and transfer today. The software is upgraded in the cloud without a technician in sight and there is an unlimited supply of storage available ( you just pay for the amount you use).

Cloud based software also allows for rapid deployment and lower risk when considering major software changes. With much lower capital investment required, the cost of change is reduced and major change can, at least, be considered (where previously it may not even have made the table if a whole infrastructure change was involved).

As more software organisations are offering cloud-based options we will likely see the following trends:

  • The quick reduction in the cost and availability of data storage……..How much does a 500G external hard-drive cost compared to two or three years ago?
  • Subscription based “cloud” versions of software offered as an option to buying a full license CD or download to your desktop or server.
  • Free subscriptions to cloud applications used as teasers for hardware sales (good news if upgrading your hardware).

So is there a downside to this cloud technology? There has been some discussion around compliance of data stored in the cloud. For example, data held on cloud storage servers in Germany by a New Zealand organisation may need to comply with data storage legislation in both countries. However, if the data was held in China it may only need to comply with NZ legislation. Then there is the area of property and piracy legislation to consider (lots in the news around this at the moment). To say this area is “hazy” is probably an understatement. My personal opinion, is that this will sort itself out as a matter of momentum.

I hope this gives at least a broad understanding of “cloud” computing. Just contact me if you want any more information around any of the subject covered in these blogs.

PS: As part of our sustainability programme – we have converted some waste material into memo cubes which are available, free of charge, to our valuable customers (while stocks last).

I also have some reduced size computer desk pads (with calendar) available – also while stocks last. Just let me know if you would like any of these and I’ll drop off.


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20 05 2013
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