Ai Solutions ToolKit CS - The Cloud, Big Data, Big Benefits
24 September 2013
There have been some tremendous improvements in the culture of software service provision for businesses in the UK over the past 6 years. Back in 2007 it felt like the bulk of our day-to-day computing work was carried out on the desktop, with the majority of the applications and utilities we needed being desktop based; a physical application was installed on the desktop and/or server in our office. The internet and service provisioning technologies offered an intriguing and tangible scalability option. During this period businesses started to become aware and realise the potential this option had to offer. Here at Ai Solutions we were no exception to this and in 2008 we started to provide services across the cloud, with big data, scalability, and the customer at the heart of the service provision of ToolKit CS™
Back then we talked about "the internet"; soon we started discussing "the cloud". But what is cloud computing? At its core, cloud computing is computing based on the internet. We are moving our focus from having the physical computing power within our offices, to being stored elsewhere, distributed across the globe in data centres around the world. Computer hardware has advanced allowing us to provide virtual servers, so one physical device can manage several virtual devices. In turn these physical and virtual devices can host multiple applications, securely accessed by numerous users around the globe. With such immense capabilities, big data is supported so irrelevant of the size of the customer's data, the cloud can handle it and scale to support more with comparable ease (compared with that of the office solution).
Nothing is instant about this shift in focus and with the progression of technology and the supporting role it plays in business, no doubt there will be further advances that we need to consider moving forwards. It may be that the next advent that will consume our interests will be the surge in mobile support. In reality, given the adoption rate we see on the coal face of business, the approach to service provision and technological support of business will be a mix of all aspects that the industry has to offer. There will be no day zero reset or change but a progression of improvements along the way.
What do we need to consider when dealing with the cloud? Some of the most critical considerations are security, bandwidth, and service provision of the connection to the internet. Without question this can be a headache but it doesn't have to be a block, it just needs planning for. Slowly but surely businesses can subscribe to new internet packages offering greater speeds, connectivity and contention ratios, that ultimately lead to a more stable portal to access cloud based software. One of the greatest challenges faced is security and privacy. Here there are a plethora of advances and preventative measures being taken from designers, to software developers, testing, to third party solutions. Ultimately working to reduce the risks. Of course these are not new challenges, these are challenges we faced in the office with localised computing, and continue to do so today. The key to any of these challenges is to be proactive, to factor and account for each of the risks involved.
So with the transition from local to cloud we have had the transition of the same inherent risks of IT hardware, and software provisioning from the office to the cloud.
What are the benefits of the service structure we offer? Cloud computing providers manage the maintenance of servers, this allows businesses to focus their attention on other more productive tasks, without needing the IT personnel to constantly update multiple locally installed software applications. Included with their maintenance responsibilities, disaster recovery is provisioned by the cloud service provider. Companies can change their focus from provisioning processes and put their energy into getting work done with their cloud based solution.
There are a plethora of service providers, making the market very competitive, which is great for the customer's wallet. The other side to this is that SME's have access to enterprise class services that allow them to compete with organisations of a much greater size.
Not only do most of the services provide a more scalable approach to billing and supporting the take up of licenses, there is a decreased cost of operating expenses for businesses choosing to move their software to the cloud. The rapid factoring of cost, licenses, and bandwidth (compared to 'in office' services), can be achieved simply due to the nature of the hardware provisioning offered by cloud computing suppliers. The consolidation of hardware to distributed locations, the advent of virtual servers leading to less physical hardware, and the adoption of super efficient hardware, there is a culture change within hardware provision that is leading towards a greener future. This is no bad thing at all.
The cloud provides the ability to access your data securely from other devices, so it is not device specific. From the desktop, to working from home, to working on the train, business applications can now be accessed anywhere, on the majority of internet connected devices. This leads to greater productivity, that matches the individual's working patterns and habits which surely is a positive move forward. This is certainly something we have embraced at Ai Solutions. Greater collaboration and joined up working enables us to offer exceptional document control and versioning for critical business documents. With greater access, more people can get involved with the projects handled across the cloud software application, leading to greater joined up working and increased collaboration. Collaboration and joined up working leads to greater analytics and sources of big data which in turn symbiotically feeds back into the process to be consumed, leading to greater KPI's (key performance indicators), improved analytics and the like.
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Ai Solutions are industry experts in compliant CDM and Asbestos management solutions. Our cloud-based services allow ToolKit Compliance System to be run on any internet-connected Windows, Apple or Android based device.
Ai Solutions ToolKit CS - The Cloud, Big Data, Big Benefits
written by Si Hanks, Systems Developer, September 2013