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Ron Schmelzer

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Related Topics: Cloud Computing, ERP Journal on Ulitzer, SAP Business One, Cloud Computing for SMBs

SMB Cloud: Blog Post

Cloud Computing for Small Business

Cloud Computing for SMBs and SMEs

Had Orchestra Team started business even five years ago, there is no way that it could operate with dozens of clients managing hundreds of IT systems without significant investment in its own IT infrastructure. The vast majority of everything we do involves working with computers and the people that use our computer systems.

Would you believe that Orchestra does not even own a single server? Would you believe that we have less than $1000 in licensed software for our company? Did you know that Orchestra's employees can operate effectively from nearly any computer in the world with an internet connection?

These questions are rhetorical, but the short answer is that Orchestra has been able to leverage cloud computing to manage nearly every aspect of it's services and technology offering. Here are some of the ways we did it:

Google Apps - Connecting the Disconnected

When Orchestra began in 2008, we had a serious decision to make: do we use Google apps (then in it's infancy) to manage our documents, or do we buy Microsoft Office. Closely tied to this was the decision to use mail provided by Google rather than run our own mail servers. It came down to what we could afford. In the early days, we were looking at thousands of dollars in licensing for Microsoft applications compared to a minimal monthly fee for Google. Google Apps also provided us a level of unprecedented real-time collaboration between the team members. Being spread across three states, we needed to ensure that we could easily share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations between team members. This had the added benefit of having those tools accessible while on-site with clients. Need to look up a quotation or a spreadsheet where you were doing some math for a client? No problem, just jump on your laptop or smart phone and you were viewing what you needed to see in minutes.

Now, as this product suite has matured, it's become the de-facto standard for most of the work I do on a daily basis. I share documents with clients, prospects, and others in the business community. I collaborate freely with those in my industry and the people I'm working with. I still get questions from my clients about "how does it work?" and "why is this free?" because they also realize the power of tools that let you work together regardless of distance or time. I find it funny that I'm now frustrated whenever someone sends me an attachment in an email.

Remote Support Platforms

We use several cloud-based remote support services. First, we use Mikogo and GoToMeeting to connect to our clients. From work as simple as a quick client support call, to things as complicated as trying to hire from an applicant pool of 40 clients, these tools enable us to make decisions quickly, and share real-time information in new more interactive ways. Shared solutions like this enable a richness in communication that isn't commonly seen from professional service organizations that operate remotely, and they are a cornerstone to our business and customer satisfaction.

In addition, we use many cloud-based storage systems to manage the backups and off-site data for our clients. Programs like Jungle Disk that are associated with Rackspacke's Mosso offering, Amazon's S3 offering allow us to put our clients vital assets in the cloud. This gives them access anywhere, and a level of security and reliability that wasn't able to be offered by many firms our size.

Often, when we receive inquiry like "is my data secure", and "who owns my data". These questions need to be answered by technology firms, but fundamentally it comes down to the following statement:

Is your money safer hidden in your mattress, or inside a bank vault?

Cloud Based Servers - Why Buy?

Most of our major applications we run virtualized in a cloud computing environment. Our Drupal development lives in an Amazon EC2 node. Our SAP Business One system resides on a Rackspace cloud server. All of these systems provide us with exceptional access and support for our key business applications. This provides us with unprecedented accessibility without having to worry about the high costs of server upkeep, maintenance, or IT costs. We have never spent a single dollar on IT support in the history of our business.

The Summary

Investment in the cloud is a great way to save your business money. Fundamentally, we run our entire IT infrastructure for less than $1,000 per month including hardware, software, and support. The best part is, as we grow, this infrastructure grows with us, and the sky is the limit.

See Cloud Computing in Action

If you are interested in taking advantage of the Cloud for your SAP system or for your IT in general, give us a call at 877-683-2648.

We can help you determine the true TCO and ROI on the project, point you in the direction of top quality service providers, or even demonstrate how we do it.

More Stories By Brad Windecker

As the President and CEO of Orchestra Software, I lead a talented team of bright people with the unified mission of helping growing industries run better. Orchestra builds industry vertical ERP software that is highly specific to the needs of the industries we serve. This strategy has enabled Orchestra to double or triple in size and revenue every year.

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