Event to highlight cloud computing benefits


Let’s talk about the cloud — not the visible, cotton-ball mass of water in the sky, but the storing and accessing of data and programs across the Internet.

Cloud computing, commonly referred to as the cloud, is widespread and growing in popularity. Common examples of this technology include Google Apps, Apple iCloud, Salesforce, Amazon Cloud Drive, Carbonite and Dropbox, said Grant Sautner, of Koa Hills Consulting, a Big Island-based company offering technology expertise and guidance.

Still, convincing some people to adopt the cloud can be difficult because “it means challenging a paradigm they’re comfortable with” and “getting them to trust outsourcing their computing muscle to another party,” Sautner said.

In an attempt to educate the public about the cloud and its benefits, Koa Hills Consulting is hosting a free event featuring Google and Acumatica from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 22 at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. Various demonstrations will show how businesses and organizations can leverage cloud-based systems to save money, run more efficiently, improve employee mobility and collaboration, and increase their ability to create innovative products or services, Sautner said. There will also be a Google Chromebook lab, where users can get hands-on experience with communication tools from 10:30 a.m. to noon, he added.

The cloud is the Internet. With this computing, an outside vendor runs the software, applications and servers that keep copies of files on from hard drive, and users access their data and programs entirely over the Internet. These systems are often subscription-based and are accessed via a web browser. Because the delivery of computing power is all over the Internet, it can be done anywhere anytime, and with different types of hardware, including mobile devices and tablet computers, Sautner said. It’s also easier to administer and manage, do real-time reporting, and results in dramatically lower hardware infrastructure costs, he added.

This differs greatly from the traditional approach — a server in a closet, basement or another room, and software loaded on each employee’s machine. Cloud computing users no long have to worry about building expensive infrastructure, managing and maintain servers, new software or having someone knowledgeable about the software on their staff. Cloud computing frees information technology staff for the company’s other projects and technology goals, Sautner said.

Despite cloud services evolving, Sautner said concerns about security and breaches are typically cited as reasons for not adopting the system. But he points out regional data centers and national corporations with cloud hosting often have highly sophisticated security protocols that most small businesses can’t afford. By moving to one of the platforms, businesses are actually getting more security, he argued.

Sautner asked naysayers to consider how many laptops, possessing personal information, are stolen annually and could actually be a weak link. Also consider that your computer could be destroyed in a fire or natural disaster.

Estimates of current-year savings from cloud adoption increased from 10 percent of current IT budgets in 2001 to 13 percent in last year, according to the 2013 State of the Cloud Report by CDW LLC, a provider of technology products and services. The report is an assessment of the drivers behind cloud computing adoption in the United States, based on a survey of 1,242 information technology professional familiar with their organization’s plans for the cloud.

The 2013 State of the Cloud Report found more than half of the organizations are migrating or planning to migrate specific applications or infrastructure to the cloud, and that personal use of cloud services is significantly influencing organizational decisions. Large businesses and higher education institutions led the cloud adoption way. However, small and medium businesses, the federal government and schools have also seen significant growth in implementing or maintaining cloud computing, the report stated.

To register for the event or for more information, call 213-0033 or visit koahills.com.