Why ‘The Cloud’ Matters: Guest Post by Former Skype COO & Mangrove Capital Partner Michael Jackson

Most businesses and and people don’t have resources or desire to spend time and money on staffing and problems connected with IT. ‘The Cloud’ lets us do it – better, cheaper and faster. 

Most humans don’t have to draw their own water anymore.  A long time ago, we realized it was cheaper and better to ‘outsource’ this task to a water company. Similarly, why should we still have to worry about our own computing? Just like water is a basic necessity, so is computing, and it should be everywhere.

IT environments are more and more complex and difficult to manage. No longer can companies dictate the use of a single standard PC.  People love to use their own mobile phones and tablets, and of course the business benefits from continuous access and mobility.  Yet this also introduces many challenges into the workplace. Screens with different formats, and hundreds of small machines with a huge range of operating systems are impossible to manage. Any internally developed platform must now work on many devices, each with different intricacies. For most IT administrators, this is way beyond their expertise.  But now, there is an answer.

In our consumer-driven and rapidly changing IT environment, software-as-a-service is more and more relevant.  Cloud companies ensure that every time something new comes out, the system adapts.  All customers benefit and share the costs of developing and enhancing the platform.

The basic necessities of telecommunications, email and printing should not be the worry of an organization. The hidden costs are enormous – not just the direct costs of support employees, but also because a system developed in-house will never be as feature-rich or adaptive as a commercial product, simply because of the number of development hours required to create it.  It’s quite simply always going to be less expensive to use a cloud service.

Imagine an in-house support team with three staff and compare this with a specialty cloud-based company with 30 developers, many being specialists in different platforms.  Ten times the resources naturally create a better, more reliable product.  Further, businesses no longer have to rely on a single IT expert (who might jump from one job to another, develop a long-term illness, even have the audacity to go on holiday).  Instead, business can trust one stable supplier, with a continuously upgraded product, a long life cycle and 24/7 support.  A cloud service provides a better solution deployed faster.

Nobody argues that cloud services are suitable for everything.  Many core IT functions are so vital that a company needs to have full control of them. This is where a modern CIO is now spending his time.  Information Technology has moved from being a support function to becoming a critical part of the products and services provided to clients.  The largest change in the last decade is that the CIO now faces the customer, rather than employee.

Employee support functions – like print-management – lend themselves to outsourcing.

ezeep Cloud-Managed Printing satisfies a straightforward need – the management of a fully featured, highly functional and easy to manage printer network.  For many, it is just a necessary evil and, quite frankly, a distraction to real IT issues.

Take a company with 1000 employees; it’s likely they have 100 printers. A huge task for a company, yet not even a blip for a cloud platform   Running around installing printer drivers or fielding calls from angry colleagues is a thing of the past.  This is far from the best use of scarce IT staff.  It is a low-skill function, work that largely disappears with an ezeep solution.  While the current printer maintenance job entails quick-response to annoyed people, it’s no fun for anybody.  Who has time for something like that? Why not eliminate the need for it with Cloud-Managed Printing?

The advantages of a cloud product aren’t restricted to large companies.  Cloud services opens small companies to the same products as enterprise-level clients.  Today, they use fully featured email service like Gmail, because it’s easier, better and cheaper than typical in-house solutions. They use sales management systems like Salesforce because it’s quite simply a far better product than anything they could buy or build internally. They all need print-infrastructure management like ezeep.  In fact, what’s actually trending today is that the smaller clients are the first to benefit from the more advanced services.  Legacy attitudes in big companies are often something of a hindrance.

This is the main driver for the incredible adoption and acceptance of cloud services in the past two to three years. While early adopters have been using them for a long time, it has taken a time for businesses to trust them.  Yet we know they work at home. And we know they can work at work. Takeoff is faster and faster, and the biggest difference is that enterprise now relies on the cloud. Now businesses from Fortune 500 through government, education and even national security are comfortable with cloud services.  Most of the fundamental debates around reliability, security and vendor lock in have matured and disappeared.

In conclusion, employees have grown used to feature-rich cloud services in their private life.  They are not happy working with lower quality, restrictive internally developed systems.  The CIO can offer his users a more reliable product, with more features at a lower cost.

Better, Cheaper, Faster: Who doesn’t want that?

Guest contributor Michael Jackson is a General Partner at Mangrove Capital Partners (an ezeep investor) and the former COO of Skype.