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Comprehending ‘the cloud’

SCV Chamber Lunch and Learn program teaches attendees about new computing technology

Posted: April 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 


Last week, about 15 people attended the Lunch and Learn to better understand how cloud computing differs from their current server situation and if it’s worth making the switch.

“We want to know what the heck ‘the cloud’ is,” said Steven Lettau, marketing director for Advanced Audiology.

Lettau attended SCV Chamber event about cloud computing April 6, hosted by Jeremy Stepan, president of Valencia-based Adage IT.

Adage IT has been selling cloud-solution packages for about six months, Stepan said.

“It definitely is a shift for IT companies to modify the way we’ve provided support to businesses for the past decade or more,” he said.

“Cloud computing” refers to maintaining data, software and computation on a centralized server at a location other than one’s office or home.

It provides backup services and the opportunity to access the data from essentially anywhere, Stepan said. Cloud computing is controlled by the entity that set up the server and restricted to authorized users.

“Cloud is nothing more than a server you would have at your office,” Stepan from Adage IT said at the Lunch and Learn. “It’s just at another location somewhere.”

“Cloud computing” has become a buzz term in recent months, thanks to Apple introducing the iCloud to sync its Apple products, but cloud computing has been around for years, and many companies host their servers off-site.

“It’s really not so much the sense that it’s new technology,” Stepan said, “it’s that it is cost-effective and more stable.”

During the lunch, Stepan outlined the services typically included in Adage IT’s cloud packages — a server that stores and backs up your data, hosting your company’s Microsoft Exchange software and data, anti-virus software, and even a unified phone system that allows you to answer your office line from anywhere you have Internet service.

The server can backup your data manually based on your command, or on an automatic scheduled basis. The price of such packages has gone down significantly in just the past 18 months, Stepan said. Backup solutions used to cost $400 each month, but are now down to about $150 per month.

“It’s come down a lot,” he said.

Lettau said that for Advanced Audiology, phone services like those Stepan presented and cloud storage could really maximize customer service.

“I’m thinking this is a faster way for patients to get in touch with us,” he said, adding that staff members are out of the office and in the community fairly often.

Cloud computing isn’t necessarily for everyone, Stepan said.  A one-man shop might not have the need to share data and have it accessed from anywhere, and so a simpler backup solution might be sufficient. But nearly all of Adage IT’s clients that use the phone service have found it to be cheaper than their current service provider, Stepan said.

The biggest demand from clients is for video conferencing capabilities through phone service, but Stepan said that advancement is being worked on.

Security and reliability are the largest questions when it comes to hosting your data, e-mail and phone through a third party, Stepan said. Adage IT hasn’t had a security breach with any of its clients’ servers, he said. And the cloud servers are as encrypted as U.S. Military data is.

Cloud computing is “not this ominous thing,” he said. 

smitchell@the-signal.com
661-287-5593

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