Project Management

Living in the clouds

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Categories: social media

Last time I wrote about the 7 C’s of social media. There is one more C. It’s not strictly a social media guiding principle, but it’s aligned. Have you worked it out from the picture? It’s Cloud.

Cloud computing is the delivery of infrastructure, an operating platform and software delivered over the internet as a service.  You can buy storage space, platforms to build your own applications or access to software applications.  The latter is often called Software as a Service (SaaS). 

Lots of vendors are using this model to deliver software, and you can read some reviews of project management software on my blog, A Girl’s Guide to Project Management. The more upscale the tool – software designed to be used by professional, trained project managers – the more likely it is to have an on-site hosted option. Many of these products also have cloud versions for use by smaller companies or those who don’t want to invest.

Clouds with benefits

That’s the good thing about cloud computing: it means that companies don’t have to invest in data centres or massive server rooms, and they can avoid the cost of having to buy, host and maintain software themselves. If your organisation gets busier, you pay your cloud computing supplier a bit more money and they scale up the solution for you to cope with the demand. If you have fewer projects to run, you can scale it down. It’s very flexible, and system upgrades tend to be implemented immediately. It also has a low capital outlay, which can be a huge selling point if you are trying to convince your management team to invest in a social media tool for your project. You won’t be left tied in to ongoing contracts or with expensive servers sitting idle.

The downside of clouds

However, you don’t own perpetual rights to the software. If your internet link goes down or the vendor is doing routine maintenance, you can’t access your project files. And if you decide to move to another tool later it can be awkward to migrate all your data.

There is also the security question: where is your data actually being stored and who can get at it? If you work on projects in the government or healthcare arena you may be prevented from moving project files to the cloud.

Cloud computing solutions have also been criticised for not being ‘green’, meaning that they are energy hungry server farms with a high carbon footprint.  If this is a concern for you and your organisation, research the hosting company fully before committing to doing business with them.

Do you use the cloud for your project management software? I’d be interested to learn more about your experiences, so let me know in the comments.

This post was adapted from my book, Social Media for Project Managers (published by PMI).

Posted on: March 19, 2012 04:02 PM | Permalink

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