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Run for the cloud

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Cloud computing isn’t for everyone, but IT departments are under increasing pressure to do more with less, and cloud computing has already shown it has the ability to deliver on that promise, says JUSTIN PIRIE of Mimecast.

Steve Ballmer’s quote ‚ ‚for the cloud, we’re all in‚ : spoken in March last year, is rapidly becoming IT folklore. For most industry watchers it was construed as a declaration of war against Google, but it was also a clear recognition from Microsoft that the shift from client server to cloud computing was an irresistible force. There are those who criticise Microsoft for being late to react to big macro-technological trends ‚ the internet being one of the most obvious ‚ but there’s no denying that once the Redmond behemoth sets its big guns on a market, everyone else had better watch out. Cloud computing, in essence, means outsourcing IT services to third party vendors who then deliver those services over the internet. It results in lean, mean IT departments that can focus their resources on areas of high value for the business, while offloading commoditised but management-intensive or high risk applications ‚ such as email ‚ to cloud vendors like Mimecast. It’s important to state up front that the cloud isn’t for everyone. Some companies like to keep all their IT on-site, perhaps because they believe an on-premise archive is more secure, or they have fears over the nascent state of standards in cloud computing. But the majority of IT departments today are under intense pressure to do more with less. And cloud computing has already shown it has the potential to deliver on that promise. UK law firms have been early adopters of cloud technology ‚ certainly in terms of email services ‚ enjoying the reduced cost and complexity but also, critically, the granular legal hold and eDiscovery capabilities that a cloud archiving service like Mimecast’s can offer. Email is absolutely mission critical to law firms, so legal CIOs need the peace of mind that comes with a 100% availability SLA ‚ in layman’s terms, an email system that keeps email flowing even if the mail server goes down. And perhaps most important, legal IT teams seem to fall into the ‚Just Enough On-Site’ camp rather than wanting to manage hoards of servers and on-premise storage arrays. So, with law firms already embracing the cloud, Steve Ballmer’s words would surely have been reassuring rather than threatening? Not necessarily. There’s often a sense with the cloud ‚ perhaps not helped by the ‚all in’ sentiment ‚ that it’s an all-or-nothing decision. You either ‚move to the cloud’ or you don’t. With Microsoft announcing a fully hosted, cloud-based, Exchange-based email service, many CIOs wondered ‚ and continue to wonder ‚ if they should leapfrog Exchange 2010 and go fully hosted, with Office 365 when it comes to South African in early 2012. The truth is there’s no mad rush. If you are a Microsoft Exchange customer and you like the idea, over time, of embracing cloud technology, then you can do it how you want to, when you want to. The adoption curve with Exchange 2010 is just now beginning to steepen. Somewhere between 80% and 90% of Microsoft’s Exchange installed base worldwide is still on Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2007, according to Gartner, and that means we’re about to witness something of a ‚great migration’. Over the next twelve months or so, the signs are that the majority of this migration will be from Exchange 2003/2007 to Exchange 2010. The first step for companies using older versions of Exchange is to get ‚migration-ready’. This means getting rid of the sundry clutter of disparate applications that have built up over the years ‚ anti-spam, anti-virus, redundancy, archiving ‚ and consolidating them in the cloud. This is where Mimecast comes in, and where we’ve helped numerous law firms cut costs and streamline the management of email services. Once your data is archived in the cloud, and you have a guarantee of email availability in case of downtime, you are ready to migrate. The question many CIOs have been asking is ‚can I still move to Office 365 if I migrate to Exchange 2010 now?‚ The answer is unequivocally yes. We believe that Exchange 2010 with a ‚Just Enough On-Site’ infrastructure (and the rest in the cloud) is the perfect stopping off point for a future move to Office 365, And is Office 365 ‚all in’? In other words, does that mean you have to put all your eggs in one basket with Microsoft? No. You can, of course, if that suits your requirements. But you may also decide to keep your data archived with a third party provider, perhaps with more favourable SLAs or simply for the ‚insurance’ factor of keeping it separate. There is no doubt that an ecosystem of third party cloud suppliers will emerge around Office 365 just as it has with Exchange. And the importance of that, in the end, is that nobody forces you to do anything. Assess the available options, and choose what’s best for you.

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I have signed up 2 weeks ago ands its a big step forward for my company (We only using Sharepoint Online and Lync Online) for now.

Is Office 365 really coming to SA in 2012?

I have searched the web and this artivle is the only one that confirms that it will be coming to South Africa.

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