Cloud Computing for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) Today

by Ray Hudaihed - Chief Technology Officer - Domina Technology Solutions on January 13, 2010 · 9 comments

Ray Hudaihed is the Chief Technology Officer for Domina Technology Solutions. Many in the insurance industry think that cloud computing is an emerging technology. I have news for you. It has emerged and is becoming more robust each day. Ray or Tina Peppers, the President and Founder of Domina Technology Solutions will be posting for us each week.

Wikipedia defines “Cloud Computing” as follows: Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet.

Though this is very broad and somewhat vague definition, reality is most of us are using cloud computing in one form or another. A good example would be Gmail and Yahoo mail services. You really don’t know where you emails are physically stored but you know you can get to it anytime, from anywhere, from any device with an internet connection. The capabilities that such services have in utilizing their data centers in a dynamic elastic fashion enables them to make such services affordable (if not free) for all of us.

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Enterprises and their IT departments wised up to such savings in running their computing resources and facilities sometime ago. However, it seems that small and medium businesses have not gotten the word yet, at least not the whole word. This is especially true in some traditional industries such as the property & casualty insurance world. Realtime, high availability, durable computing resources with large databases, analytics, data warehouses, web applications, enterprise messaging and collaboration, shared file servers…etc., used to be reserved for large organizations with large data centers. Today all of these same services are at any SMBs finger tips with a pay for what use and as you go pricing model.

To be practical let’s look at a simple example emphasizing cost and benefits. A typical SMB might store their critical files and data on personal hard drives or on a small file server. Often there is very little reliability or guarantee of backup and recovery availability in the case of a disaster or a simple computer crash. Cloud computing vendors now offer computer storage as low as .33 cents a Gigabyte (a Gigabyte holds about 25 minutes of DVD-quality video). This is not simply just storage for files and data, but backup and redundancy with high availability from anywhere in the world. In reality, if an SMB purchases their own file server with redundant drives, backup software, uninterruptible power supply and the networking operating system to enable the office workers (within the office only, without access from the web), they can spend $15,000 to $50,000 and possibly more. This is one example among many of how cloud computing might replace physical, on-premises systems. In future blogs I’ll cover actual case studies and technical implementations in the Insurance P&C spaces that goes beyond an SMB utilizing cloud computing for a niche service (such as file storage). We will explore how to actually run the business from A to Z in the cloud.

SMBs are the type of business that stand to quickly reap the savings and the benefits of cloud computing that large organization with an existing investment in costly data centers will take some time to realize.

Please share how you are using cloud computing. Or ask any questions or concerns you have about cloud computing.

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