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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Today was really cloudy

On Saturday, I went online to Google.com/a and started the process to move my company from Microsoft Exchange to Google hosted email.  Like many of you who have CAD managers who don't want to move to Revit, I had an IT manager who wanted our email hosted locally in our office knowing that half the year we face the threat of hurricanes. 

I don't know about you, but I've become quite accustomed to two things, electricity and email. Yes, they are two things that your business needs to keep going.  The thought of not having either, doesn't sit well with me.  That's why after looking at all of the pros and cons, Google will host your exchange mail for $50/person/year in the cloud.  I know, some of you are saying that you don't want anyone to be holding your data.  Are you the same ones who don't want to give up the DWGs to the engineers and contractors? 

What's great about moving to Google Apps is that it will cost us 1/3 of what we're paying now to have our email hosted on GoDaddy.  I won't even mention how many times our mail has gone down in the past year, but let's just say that I trust Google much more than our own computers.  Plus, there's about zero IT management needed for Google Apps mail.  I'm sure your IT people or consultants have better things to do than baby sit an Exchange Server. 

All this background leads me to my reason for writing this.  I got a phone call this morning from Google.  Yes, a technical person called up to see if I had an deployment issues, questions or concerns.  I couldn't believe it. I was talking to a real life Google employee. Yes, that sounds so dorky, but they're my favorite company.  I was going on for about 10 minutes with him about all of the great products and how all of their data is sharable, accessible from anywhere and we even discussed AutoCAD and Sketchup. 

So, my day started in the cloud, the Google cloud.  Yes, I'm sure there are countless reasons to not want to have your design software stored in the cloud, but imagine being able to collaborate live with people from all around the world on a project.  You do collaborate, don't you?  You know...actually share  your model with others?  Good. I thought so. 

Well, the Google conversation went great and we're going to flip the MX switch Friday night and make the move. 

Well, what could have happened to top all of that?  I came home tonight and didn't see the mail.  When I located the stack of envelopes, there was one generic one addressed to me.  Imagine my shock when I opened it and found a check for $110.54 from, you guessed it, Google.  Boy, was my head in the clouds.  I decided to put Google Ads on my blog.  Yes, ads are annoying, but wouldn't you miss commercials on TV, and ads in magazines?

Hey, that just gave me a great side idea.  Since millions of people come across blueprints every day from your work and many others, why not sell advertising on the back of blueprint sheets?  24 x 36 square inches of pure open space just ready to get ads on them for all of the people in the construction industry.

Can you see it now "Nike...Just Build it".  Budweiser?  "Great taste, Less Building".  How about Intel?  Intel-igent Designers inside".  We could all make millions.  My next idea is advertising on money, but that's another post.

There's a theme going on today in my life and it involves Google and the cloud.  Of course, I'll take my Google money and put it towards bills (I just wrote that for my wife..it's going straight to the Apple iPad software store). 

Hope you enjoyed my cloudy day story.  Now, it's off to spend the next 6 months worrying about some really nasty hurricane clouds.

Addendum 6/2/10 6:45 AM.  I've already gotten a few comments as to how terrible this is. Our email will be stored locally on Outlook.  We have a backup server in case anything happens.  Are we any safer with local hosting and IT versus remote?  One thing I've found in the past two weeks since losing our IT guy is that we're all held hostage by technology.  One little thing goes wrong and everything shuts down.  When we delegate our technology software and management to others, a critical thing to do is make sure you have a backup plan.  No, not for your data, but if you lose your IT person.
Do you know where your domain name is hosted?  When does it expire?  Who's the administrative contact?  How do you access it to make a change.  How is it being paid for.  Who hosts your domain?  Same questions as above.  What about your phone system, cell phones, even information about your Autodesk reseller, subscription account information and so many other day to day technology related items.

I made one tiny change on our server on Friday and yesterday, was told no one could scan on the copier. Thank goodness it took me 3 seconds to realize it was because I changed a password, that I changed on the copier and fixed it immediately.  Otherwise, it could have gotten ugly.  Ever try to program your phone system?  Try changing the message for Memorial Day.  Do you know where the manual is?

I love technology, I'm enamored of the efficiencies of modern automation via computers and gadgets.  But, one thing I've learned is that you can never rely on others to handle all of these things without having a procedures and hardware manual in case of emergency.  This goes for every level at your company. 

Yup, cloudy day with a slight chance of IT sunshine.


Lindsay and Parley June 2, 2010 at 1:24 AM  

You probably didn't know that for the same cost per user you can host your email "in the cloud" via online exchange servers. I've tried Google apps, and it sucks. I know, in theary it sounds good. But what happens when you want to use outlook? Their apps/outlook connector sucks too. Very buggy. Why not use the online exchange account and utilize email via your browser or outlook and maintain perfect fidelity between the two. (not to mention perfect calendar sync and contacts).
I guess it makes me sad to see somebody blindly brushing off a company because of some bad experience 10 years ago or so. Truth is, microsoft has really picked up their game BIG TIME. Wait until a few weeks when their office suite of applications are offered "in the cloud".
You will be dissapointed with Google Apps..

Dave Ault,  June 2, 2010 at 5:47 AM  

Yesterday, T-Mobile notified all of its Sidekick/Danger device customers that a failure which occurred at Microsoft subsidiary’s Hitachi-based storage systems caused a catastrophic data loss at a central datacenter which affected approximately 800,000 of their subscribers worldwide.
This data loss included all contacts, digital photos, calendar entries and to-do lists that were stored by each customer because much of the device’s core functionality was entirely dependent on online, cloud-based services.
As a consolation, T-Mobile has generously offered its customers either an early termination escape from their contracts at zero penalty, or a $20 credit on a T-Mobile G1 android phone.

I just for the life of me do not understand the lemming like rush to put ANY form of relevant data in the hands of others and on the cloud. Banks have forced many into this model and you see the rise of companies like "Lifelock" which basicalyy are insureing users against failure of security. No one offers insurance against cheapskate MBA's cutting costs on server farms and this sadly is where you will find yourself one day as your data is lost.

There is no good substitute for local autonomy where all variables except for your internet connection are controlled. I just don't get it. These wonderfull cloud things still have to have employees, servers, IT guys and big wheels to run it and still come complete with all the inherent bottlenecks of the web unchanged but now you you have added another layer of cost and complexity to the equation and still have to maintain all the same people and equipment at your end. Please somebody help me to the holy grail of understanding whereby I will see the real reason to do this cloud thing to myself. Until then all I see is people enamored of new for the sake of new with no provable benefits.

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