Concerns about business continuity are top of mind for many business owners in Christchurch at the moment. With the CBD locked down, and the prospect of gaining entry to access essential files and servers unlikely to happen for possibly weeks yet, the concept of a workplace as being a place bound by four walls and containing all the essential services is being reviewed.
In recent years I have been a strong advocate of schools looking to cloud computing as a solution for many of the issues they face in terms of data storage, backup, version control, support etc. etc.
Putting our words into action, we (at CORE) undertook the process of shifting all of our servers off-site nearly two years ago now, and have since then moved to shifting most of what we do into ‘the cloud’.
The most recent move has been to adopt a cloud-based accounting package, using Xero, which has not only provided much better levels of service and support, but has also reduced our costs considerably – from several thousand dollars a year, to an ongoing fee of $25/month plus an annual support fee.
At a time where many other businesses, and schools for that matter, were investing heavily in site-based servers, backup and infrastructure, we felt assured that the cloud platform was the way to go. Security of data, and concerns about privacy and access are the main reasons given for not choosing the cloud, and while there is certainly reason to consider these issues, we believed the pros outweighed the cons.
How that decision has paid off for us in the wake of the current earthquake crisis. While many others are waiting to get back into offices and buildings to retrieve servers and valuable back-up disks etc., our IT manager had us fully functioning from remote locations in less than 24 hours after the event.
For schools (and tertiary institutions) the importance of hosting servers and mission critical services remotely will take on a new meaning I’m sure. Several schools I am aware of, as well as one of the local tertiary providers, are concerned that their LMS system, for example, is no longer accessible because it is hosted on a server within the premises which is now cut off because of the quake. As a result, the option of students being able to continue accessing their learning via the LMS isn’t an option – while a remotely hosted application would have been able to continue to be accessed.
Perhaps the Horizon Report prediction of 2009 will prove to be correct, that cloud computing and private clouds may fit within the 2-3 years to adoption time-frame after all?