Jul 12 ’10
Cloud Perspectives: The Inclusive Cloud
Your company is now global; you’re interested in pursuing the many goals of cost management, virtualization, cloud computing, and going “green.” But what is “the cloud”? According to www.Financenewmexico.org/definitions, it might be defined as “a new generation of computing that utilizes distant servers for data storage and management.” But the real idea behind it is to draw on computing resources located anywhere in the world, as needed, to serve your business. One resource too often overlooked in this exercise is your people; they manage the services, the hardware, even the applications. In the “inclusive cloud,” you can take cloud computing to the next level and achieve the rest of those goals—efficient, low-impact computing with a favorable price/performance ratio—while extending the concept of virtualization to your human resources.
If you currently allow some employees to work remotely, you’re already on this path. What could be more green and virtual than the virtual office, where many of your employees work from their homes, exploiting the technology that makes physical location irrelevant? The inclusive cloud is defined as a company where location of the hardware, network, tools, and people no longer matters. At one time, this wasn’t an option—the technology didn’t support it. But with robust, industrial-strength Internet connections, software access from any type of PC and security that protects your business, anyone can exploit the value of the inclusive cloud by permitting their employees to work remotely from virtually anywhere.
Employers stand to gain a great deal from employing this strategy. Not only can you readily scan the globe to hire employees who fully match your requirements, those employees will likely find the “work from home” option very attractive. In the mainframe space, some savvy employees have been exploiting the real estate downturn to purchase a retirement home; let them move there now. Eliminating the traditional commute serves both employee and employer; the time and money saved by the employee is a huge personal benefit. The employer can decrease its carbon footprint by eliminating the requirement for people to travel so much. Home workers are “green.” Costs go down as well. The cost of real estate to support a large workforce (including the buildings, taxes, and environmentals) is substantial. Many employers subsidize commuting and/or parking; both costs could be reduced.
With instant messaging, VoIP phones, smart phones and more, collaboration is already global; physical presence can be simulated with telepresence, virtual conferencing, and Webcams. Younger employees have already embraced remote relationship building and often text even when physically co-located. Their “water cooler” is their phone; they don’t understand the need to sit in a conference room together.
What is an employer to do? Create virtual communities and foster teambuilding with tools, such as SharePoint, making it easy to hold discussions with people you get to know through their profiles and pictures. Embrace software companies that provide management tools, which allow secure access from anywhere. And add to the mix the significant benefit of enhanced disaster recovery. Your employees don’t need to get back to the office; they simply need to find a way to get online with you. Add the inclusive cloud strategy to your business plan and gain a real competitive edge.