Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Cloud and The Grid

by Jace Modavi

There are two competing schools of thought when it comes to delivering CRM tools.  The first is through traditional methods, with software and servers.  This gives you a home-grown on-premises system, traditionally referred to as grid computing.  The other is a still-emerging technology that’s been on the market for about a decade now, and is one that I prefer.  Cloud computing delivers apps and information over the Internet, so you don’t have to worry about servers, network infrastructure, and other things that are expensive when they stop working.

Cloud computing has become a dominant force in customer relationship management.  It’s CRM for those on the go, for those who can’t afford the overhead of installing their own on-premises system, and for those that want scalability and custom applications.  With cloud computing, all of your data and applications are stored online, so it’s not locked up in your office.  This means that you can access account information, sales reports, and anything else you need from the road.  It’s safe and secure, so you don’t have to worry about backing up files – though you can – or protecting your network.  You also don’t have to worry about server costs and maintenance, software license fees, or costly upgrades when you outgrow your current system.  Everything is taken care of for you.  You pay a monthly subscription for the apps you use, but not for software that you don’t need.  And with custom application development tools, you can create your own apps to fit your business.
Practical Application
Looking forward, it doesn’t seem like the cloud computing momentum is going to end any time soon.  And with the way companies are also jumping on board, using cloud computing for their apps and CRM utilities, a lot of investment is going on to improve the way the cloud works.  So who’s buying into cloud computing?
Possibly Apple
Those are some of the biggest names in technology today, and they’re all getting into cloud computing.
What happened to grid computing?
Well, nothing.  It’s not like it broke and everyone just decided to move on.  Instead, it’s still around, and in fact cloud computing is based on grid computing; it’s just that it’s now something you don’t have to worry about.  What I mean is this: when you subscribe to a cloud computing vendor, your information is stored online.  Well, the Internet isn’t magic, it’s still stored in hard copy somewhere.  That’s where the vendor comes in.  They set up servers to host everything themselves, meaning they’re doing what you would be doing if you had to store your information.  What’s different, and this is the real dealbreaker, is what happens next.  They store the information, but instead of using software that’s run on those servers and only accessible by computers on that grid, they run applications that run over the Internet.  I can’t open a Word document unless I have Word on my computer.  However, I can check my Facebook messages from anywhere I want – including my phone.  But I don’t have any special Facebook software that I take with me.  It’s all delivered online.  So your vendor worries about the servers and the application and the grid stuff, and you focus on accomplishing your goals.  Which is good, because servers are expensive.  And a lot of work.  You don’t have to worry about outgrowing your system, complicated software installs, or upgrades; it’s all taken care of for you in the cloud.