In what is being the called the largest migration to cloud services so far, the Department of Veteran Affairs has just inked a deal with Microsoft and HP Enterprise Services to move its 600k users to Microsoft’s cloudbased office productivity suite Office 365. The move is seen by many as further evidence of a significant shift in corporate IT strategy away from costly infrastructure investments to cloud services for every aspect of technology. Over the past 10 years, enterprise IT departments have been gradually, but inexorably moving application platforms out of their own datacenters to providers like Oracle and SAP, but hesitated when it came to the garden-variety desktop applications that knowledge workers use daily. That reluctance may be disintegrating as services from Google and Microsoft make it hard to dismiss the tremendous efficiencies and savings that can be realized by getting rid of the real estate and overhead needed to maintain desktop-based applications.
What this means for you:
Many of you work in the cloud daily without giving it a thought. Perhaps you never thought of Gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo Mail as a productivity app, but what about Salesforce, or LinkedIn, or even Facebook? Both Google and Microsoft’s cloud-based office apps are full-featured and powerful enough for everyday business tasks, and the very nature of their delivery makes deployment, security and maintenance much simpler that software installed on desktops. It’s this same strength that also proves to be a weakness, as if you lose your internet connection, you also lose your ability to work. Well that’s easy to solve, I can hear you say. Why not just move to another location where the internet is working? What if it’s the cloud itself that is unavailable? Once again, the cardinal rule compartmentalization comes into play – never base the entirety of your critical business operations in the hands of a single, monolithic platform, even if that platform is largely reliable. And this goes doubly so for a platform around whose neck you can’t comfortably get your hands, as is the case with a provider like Microsoft or Google.