Cloud Computing is Great, but …

While cloud computing applications have many benefits for business users of all sizes, Google is helping us Cloud app users remember there is a down side.  Cloud computing applications for business are seemingly limitless.  One can run accounting, HR, sales, order processing, service, sales, project management, collaboration, and just about any other business function via Cloud applications for reduced cost, on modern technology, with ubiquitous access.

However, what if you come to rely on an application for a critical part of your business and the provider of that application decides to make a global change that negatively impacts your processes or what if they shut down the application completely.  That is what Google is doing with the popular iGoogle portal that allows users to view a single site that aggregates all of your favorite apps they call gadgets.  While iGoogle is not likely a mission critical app for many businesses, it is a very popular tool great for collaboration and easy view of data from various sources.

Google warned users of the impending change with an announcement on July 3, 2012.  Many thousands of users have asked Google to keep iGoogle running, but to no avail.  One petition alone reached 10,000 signatures.  iGoogle will be gone on November 1st.  Tens of thousands of users will have to find new and probably less efficient ways to view their data.

The point here is that while Cloud computing is great for business of all sizes, you need to make sure you fully understand the future plans a provider has for an app before you sign that agreement. Your organization will quickly become dependent upon each app and change is costly and difficult.  Have a plan B in place.  Know who the competitors are and what they offer.  Also make sure you can download all needed data in a usable format in case you need to bring the application back in house or switch to another provider.

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