Into the Cloud!

While another Icelandic volcano, Bárðabunga, is set to explode, filling the clouds with ash and making our lives a little harder, there are other types of clouds that are making our lives easier.

Years ago many thought the cloud was just a buzzword that would help sell more software but lacked substance. The reality has proven otherwise. The cloud has been a revolutionary step into the future.

Businesses have long been used to having server closets somewhere in the basement of a building where all end users connect to transact business processes, read email and store data. These servers would then connect to the internet to talk to the rest of the world. Maintaining these servers became the responsibility of a local IT team, who would have to make sure the power, the air conditioning and connectivity remained perfect. At the same time when it came time to upgrade, those servers had to be physically replaced or opened up and configured. Whenever a server would power down. Someone would have to go over to the closet and push a button. Sometimes, equipment was installed to remotely turn servers on and off. Then there were the setups of routers and firewalls, to keep all this safe from the constant attrition of evil forces.

This is the situation in many places today, but I firmly believe this will be a thing of the past for most companies in the not too distant future. The features and functionalities of cloud technology is enormous today and is growing at a stellar speed.

Back in the late 90’s during the dot.com boom, people had the vision of what we are living today. Investors put in serious investments in ideas that on paper made sense. Once it was time to start the car the wheels fell off. The technology at the time simply was not ready. The powerful companies back then, took a step back and revaluated what had happened and started taking serious steps in the right direction. I am lucky enough to have been a part of one of them, Microsoft.

We are a Dynamics NAV and CRM partner. For us the advance to the cloud started with Office 365. We, as many other companies, were running an exchange server at a colocation. We decided that since we were Microsoft Partners, we should definitely practice what we preach and move over to the cloud with the e-mail. The migration was fantastic and we have never looked back.

In the next step we pushed all of our development and in house servers to Microsoft Azure and after that there was no need for our collocated servers, which were donated to charity. Azure is a fantastic way of running Dynamics NAV. We create new machines regularly when the need arises, and just delete them when we are done.

One of the comical issues we have faced, when entering a highly virtual environment is that there are so many servers and machines, that you kind of find yourself a little lost on the network. Things are constantly changing. A machine you had worked with before, could have been moved, shrunk, expanded or deleted. The management of the servers has changed from making sure the physical boxes are doing well, to making sense of the highly flexible environment in the cloud.

All in all, this progress has been evolutionary. It is very exciting for people working in the field and I for one cannot wait for the new things that come out and truly take advantage of the power of the technology at hand.

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