The New World of IT: Embracing Cloud Technology
New technology continues to create opportunities for how data is managed. The cloud, fueled by the ever-expanding landscape of mobile technology, is moving IT from a standard of on-site data centers. As a result, the world of IT is changing and companies are being pushed into a new era where IT is being redefined around the cloud.
Cloud computing is making it more cost effective to securely disseminate information throughout a software ecosystem. Companies with a dispersed workforce, including those with service workers in the field, can now move beyond email and paper-based systems to provide these workers with valuable customer data in real time, delivered through their smart phones and tablets.
As companies realize that competitors are becoming more agile in how they manage operations, organizations are being forced to evaluate their existing IT strategies and look for more efficient and cost-effective methods to keep pace with their competitors, their customer needs and market demands. As a result, the required skills and service experience needed for IT-related roles are changing to include an understanding of the cloud and how to best leverage its benefits for the company.
Evolution to the Cloud
Migration from local hard drives to on-premise storage to hybrid storage and now to cloud computing. Processing power and data storage has evolved dramatically over the past two decades in keeping step with this evolution. Programs require more memory and more speed to operate, putting pressure on the computing industry to keep pace. Demand is steadily increasing and more companies are hungering for increased capacity to operate their systems. With this, they also require more space to store company and customer data, and the flexibility to scale with growth. As a result, the cost of memory, storage and hosting has dropped dramatically.
To put things into perspective, the cloud came into commercial use in 1999. At that time, the average local hard drive capacity was 16 GB at cost of $250 - $300. Now a 3 TB drive will only set a buyer back $85. In the realm of cloud computing and virtual servers, costs have likewise dramatically decreased.
When computing power was reliant upon the local hard drive, memory and storage were very expensive. The moving parts of the drive could fail costing the loss of valuable data. Now, cloud computing has resolved many of the vulnerabilities of hard drives and improved the technology exponentially, resulting in faster more affordable computing with power that could hardly be imagined in the past.
Rather than concern for the failure of a single drive, redundancy has created layers upon layers of integrity, often through a network of multiple, dispersed locations. The result is computing power that’s incredibly efficient and infinitely more powerful and more secure than previous options. Valuable customer data is secure and because of the connectivity provided through the Internet, the cloud helps to make accessing that data through secure applications easier for field service teams than ever before.
Updates without Disruption of Operations
It’s imperative that companies with field operations make it possible for their field workers to access the information about a job or a customer at all times. Interruptions can delay the completion of work, which has a domino effect on all other jobs scheduled for the day. This is not only costly from a revenue perspective, but it can also cost valuable customer satisfaction and impact the reputation of a business.
In the old world, IT was responsible for taking systems offline so that applications could be updated. If there was an issue during the workday, this downtime could impact operations and the ability to service customers. Today’s cloud technology has made it possible for backend system changes to occur without disrupting the business. Updates and bug fixes either run in the background or happen overnight when customers are not affected. This is very important so that business operations, particularly those in the field, are not disrupted.
Trusting Data Storage Offsite
The in-house data center or warehouse used to be the most important component of the technology framework because it served as the central hub through which information was collected, shared and stored. Companies that are used to this type of system often struggle to adopt the idea of a cloud-based technology. They find more comfort in what they see and hold within their facility as opposed to what they cannot see that may be managed by an external service.
Cloud computing companies, however, are now at the forefront of data warehousing and application hosting. Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example – the hosting company for FieldAware’s data, is one of the leading cloud computing and storage vendors. Their clients range from small businesses through enterprise organizations and government organizations. These organizations understand that hosting companies like AWS are held to the highest of standards for data security.
Also, note that hosting companies like AWS do not own the data that they manage and store on their servers. While some software companies retain ownership of that data, FieldAware holds no customer’s data hostage. Anything data through our application belongs to our customers. Period.
Cloud computing has created new possibilities for data storage and hosting. Now companies have access to a network that provides more capacity and is more secure than what they’ve experienced with on-premise solutions of the past.
Companies like FieldAware that provide field service management applications that operate through the cloud combine its benefits with the flexibility of mobile technology extending office operations into the field. This delivers valuable customer data to the fingertips of service workers through a smart phone or tablet, helping their customers to remain competitive, agile and deliver a higher level of service.