Planners Embrace Cloud Computing

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When the idea of covering cloud computing in Practice Management Solutions magazine first surfaced, I admit I hesitated. But only for a moment. Will the average planner embrace the cloud, or is this so-called “cloud computing” only for uber-techie types? Once I realized the cost efficiency and ease of use of operating in the cloud, I was convinced that planners at least deserve to know more about it. Consider also the fact that cloud computing was named one of the top 10 technology strategies for 2010 by information technology research firm, Gartner Inc.

Through interviews with planners and technology consultants, veteran freelance writer Amy Buttell offers six compelling reasons to consider cloud computing in the January/February issue of Practice Management Solutions. Besides low costs and the fact that you don’t need to be a tech nerd to get it, consider also the increased mobility and limitless scalability you can gain by moving software, data and computing power from your office to the Internet, or cloud.

Of course, nothing is perfect, so there are downsides. Like outages. Small business technology expert Jonathan Stoddard, who heads Kahuna Technology Group in Denver and blogs here as well, tells me that cloud providers often provide excellent service, but outages still happen. And because business owners expect professionals are administering the servers in the cloud, they tend to have a very low tolerance for failure.

The chance for data loss is another downside, according to Stoddard—who, by the way, is a huge proponent of cloud computing for small business, even though he blogs that the computing cloud lies within data centers that now consume more electricity annually than Sweden.

“Imagine a new company that provides a cloud service, like an online customer database,” says Stoddard. “After a year the company goes bankrupt and cannot afford to keep servers running. In the worst-case scenario, they might just shut down their servers and your customer data is gone forever.”

OK, breathe. Stoddard admits this scenario is unlikely, but he recommends business owners keep local copies of information they keep in the cloud … just in case.

Carly Schulaka
Managing Editor
Practice Management Solutions magazine
Financial Planning Association
Denver, Colo.

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