Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To the cloud? Cloud Computing? What to think of it all....

Small Business rarely has opportunities to truly compete with the big corporations when it comes to buying power for mobility, productivity and collaboration tools. The tools designed for big enterprise have previously been so expensive to purchase and maintain the Small Businesses that implement them never fully utilize them to gain the advantages they were looking for. Cloud Computing is changing that.

What is the Cloud? What do they mean when they say "To the Cloud" or "I'm in the Cloud" in those ads? The term is yet another chance for the tech crowd to add to the world vernacular. A cloud is the way you represent the Internet in a network diagram. Therefore, when something happens "in the cloud" it is happening using the Internet.  When you store data and run applications directly on the Internet instead of programs on your computer you are working "in the cloud".

Cloud computing is the technology wave we are currently riding. It is moving at a rapid pace.  It is also providing new options for Small Business by opening up access to tools and services at a reasonable rate with very little, if any, hardware and software investment.

If you haven't gotten to know much about cloud computing, take the time now. The paradigm shift is in progress. IBM expects cloud computing to add about $3 billion of net growth to its business by 2015. Microsoft signed a five-year deal with New York City in October to provide services in the cloud. Los Angeles is already working with Google to move services to the cloud. An industry giant and the two largest cities in the country making moves doesn't usually indicate a passing fad.

Chris Mankle writes an excellent analysis of Cloud Computing risks and rewards. I highly recommend the read to get a better understanding of what it means to your business.
Taking the Fear Factor Out of Cloud Computing
— It’s allowing organizations to free themselves from building and managing their own technology infrastructure and is changing how businesses operate. It touches everything from the software running desktop computers to complex business processes and foundational IT infrastructure.
The cloud has provided dramatic gains in efficiency and productivity. It has pervaded blogs, industry conferences and the minds of CIOs with its promise of adaptability, cost benefits and agility, but despite its advantages, some are still hesitant to get onboard due to its inherent risks. While some simply aren’t ready to take a leap of faith, they’re putting themselves at another kind of risk: losing ground to competitors that are taking the risk, and becoming more agile and flexible as a result.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sharing Pictures on the Internet

I was recently asked the best way to send pictures to other people. I learned that the people asking the question had been sending individual pictures to others for review. It was a problem because they were sending 5 or 6 at a time in emails and, at times, sent several emails to get all the pics to the person they wanted them to see.

I suggested using an online web album to share pictures. Unless you need to use a high def jpg just a shared online album will work for most any other need.  There are many out there but here are some I have experience with and would recommend to anyone.

Try any of the following services:

Picasa - It is a Google service.  You load a client on your computer and you have a web album to upload your photos and share.  The PC program lets you edit pictures or just click a button and upload them to your web album. You can sign up by going to picasa.google.com. If you have a Google account you can just use it to activate the service. If not, just create a Google account to get started.

Kodak Gallery - It is Kodak's online service. The tool makes it easy to order all kinds of Kodak prints right from your album. The client you download for this one is very nice, too. You just create an account with them. www.kodakgallery.com

Snapfish - This is a very popular site if you like to share and print all kinds of interesting things like books, mugs posters, etc. You can also share videos and edit them using the tools they have. www.snapfish.com

Flickr - another very popular site that does a lot of integration with other tools. www.flickr.com

I have used all of them for one thing or another. They are all nice and any of them would work well for most purposes. I use Picasa these days because it is fully integrated with our Google Apps for Business.  There are many others out there but these are the ones I see the most often.

Share your photo albums online and make it quick and easy to send to anyone, anytime without sending them over and over via email.