Cloud for SMEs
The CCIFV organizes a monthly SME Corner, an event targeted to SMEs in Ho Chi Minh City. At the last event, we had the pleasure of giving a presentation on cloud computing, as well as a short demo on how we use it at Officience.
Although the subject can be a little too technical at times, we wanted to present the cloud’s different uses as well as the opportunities that it offers. Whether for an SME, a VSE or a CAC40 company, cloud computing can help you, on any budget, to quickly implement productivity-boosting IT tools.
Different definitions depending on who you talk to
The cloud. Everyone talks about it and everyone uses it, often without even knowing it. In fact, it’s everywhere nowadays and we forget how we even got there. It came quite naturally because unlike many other technologies, individuals started using it long before companies did.
For end users, the cloud stores information online: emails, photos, music etc. The cloud ensures that your data is both permanently stored and accessible from anywhere, and even from any device.
For an Information Systems Manager, the cloud reduces infrastructure costs with a pay-as-you-go model which limits the need for initial investment.
For professional software developers, the cloud offers a new way to develop and rapidly deploy on-line applications.
Indeed, the cloud is all this at once and it offers 3 different types of service:
- Infrastructure as a service (Iaas) for IS Managers
- Platform as a service (Paas) for software developers
- Software as a service (Saas) for end users
Moving from offshore to cloudshore
Basically, the cloud consists of moving information storage and processing, which would traditionally be found on local servers or the user’s workstation, to remote servers. Therefore, as SME Corner attendees were quick to point out – no internet connection means no cloud!
In addition to storage and processing, even rights have been ‘deported’ to the cloud. So, when music is stored on iTunes, it doesn’t belong to you in the same way as it does on a CD or when converted into an audio file. This dematerialisation and disappropriation is the cause of much legal debate in terms of data security and protection.
Users are putting more and more trust into cloud service suppliers. We use Gmail for our email because we think that Google won’t lose the data. People buy songs on iTunes because they think that Apple has legally acquired the necessary rights to use and distribute. By doing so, the cloud’s players now act as trusted third parties that other businesses can rely on to sell new services. They enrich the cloud’s ecosystem and push its use even further.
That is in fact how Officience started to develop BPO as a Service: by making use of trusted cloud application suppliers who recognise the expertise of Officience’s teams to provide any necessary support.
The cloud for businesses
Today, users expect the same flexibility within a business as the cloud provides for personal usage. Web 2.0 tools are accessible everywhere and are collaborative as well as social. It has been well promoted that ‘weak ties’ leverage productivity. Formal or informal information is better distributed; exchanges are more targeted and are grouped based on real shared interests. This environment is more favourable for creating original content and launching innovative ideas.
Lastly, thanks to Saas, the entry barriers for these new tools are removed. Businesses only pay for what they use. This is, for example, Salesforce’s proposal for deploying a business sales force. Other solutions such as SharePoint capitalise on Microsoft tools such as Microsoft Excel, which businesses have alreadymastered.
How we use the Google cloud at Officience
At Officience,we use Google’s SME solution. Initially chosen to keep email management simple, it offers numerous advantages which we have now been integrated into our daily work.
At this SME Corner presentation, Eric Llouquet gave a short demonstration:
- A shared spreadsheet is a powerful collaborative tool: managing history, access rights and the possibility of seeing and interacting with those who are working on the document in real time.
- Linked to graph plugins and a Google site it enables you to publish project dashboards in real time, for increased transparency
- Finally, for communicating company news, such as Officience’s attendance at this SME Corner, nothing as lively as a photo posted on our corporate social network, i.e. Google+.