At the beginning of the month, Microsoft officially launched Office 365. What makes this Office different from the other Office suites that Microsoft has released is that Office 365 doesn't run on your computer, it runs on a cloud server. All of your data is stored securely in the cloud on Microsoft's servers. This is great for smaller Oneonta businesses that need to access their files from anywhere but don't currently have the infrastructure in-house to make it happen.
Cloud computing is the new way to get things done for small businesses. It's easy, it's secure, and it is great for the environment. According to a report put on by the Carbon Disclosure Project, cloud computing can potentially reduce the world's carbon emissions by millions of metric tons. The differences are wildly significant compared to running your own in-house data centers, even if you just have a server or two.
You are running a business. You don't want downtime, you want your email to be as reliable as the sunrise. Google Apps has been adjusting their service level agreements over the years to accommodate to the high demands of the millions of businesses that use their productivity software each day.
Before we talk about that though, I wanted to share an announcement Google recently had. In 2010, the Gmail email service, which provides both free consumer and business email services globally, was available 99.984% of the time. That means about seven minutes of downtime per month on average was experienced in 2010. According to Google, the seven minute average comes from a lot of tiny delays that normally consisted of a few seconds a shot. Most users experienced no issues, and in the rare case they did, a few seconds of delay is pretty easy to miss.
You've probably heard of cloud technology. All the big names in the technology industry are talking about it; but for a lot of people, it's still just a buzz word. Microsoft has been pushing the idea of a cloud for a while, with a couple sitting at an airport waiting for a layover, with the end result being that the cloud ceases their boredom by letting them stream movies from home. What exactly is the cloud and why does it matter for businesses?
Netflix unexpectedly announced a split between their two offerings, DVD-by-Mail and their streaming service into two separate services. This is surprising as Netflix has continued to grow in popularity and profits every quarter. Why fix what isn't broke? After all, the streaming portion of Netflix claims about 20% of North America's bandwidth during peak hours, which is certainly saying something. Is there something for small businesses to learn from Netflix?
Telecommuting (also known as working remotely) is where some or all of your staff have the flexibility to work in the location of their choosing (and in some cases, the hours that they choose). Not to be confused with freelancing, telecommuters are dedicated employees who work under a management style geared towards the final results (as opposed to how the work gets done). While telecommuting isn't for everybody, it is often practiced. Microsoft is well known for having certain positions where the employee spends most of their day in a coffee shop working remotely, and that trend certainly doesn't stop with the big M.