Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The battle in the clouds!

Yesterday I attended a seminar called "While we are waiting for the cloud" at Skuespilhuset in Copenhagen. The seminar was hosted by the Danish company Scriptor, which provides consultation services around print solutions and document solutions for major corporation in our country.

There were three speakers this morning. The first was sales director Erik Kaae from Microsoft Denmark. He is responsible for selling Microsoft Cloud solutions here. The second speaker was general manager Peter Koch from HP Denmark, and finally Kenneth Fill from Innovation Lab talked about the future. Kenneth's talk was much like those of weather forecasters on the daily news casts: 90% about how it has been lately, and 10% about tomorrows weather.

Erik Kaae explained, that all of Microsofts solutions will be available in the could, but some are not there yet. There are of course one pricing structure for enterprise customers and one for small and medium size enterprices. Those for small and medium sized companies include scaled down version of Microsoft Office, white the interprise versions include the full office package as well as the possibility of using the applications off-line, e.g. in an airplane. The subscription prices for the small package is about 8 US$ per person per month or just about 100 US$ per year per person. And then you need to have at least 5 persons needing the package in your company.

My own former company Safepark Consultancy had only one person employed. That is properly not uncommon for small consulting companies - at least in this country. We signed up for the free version of Google Apps. Today that cost 10 US$ annually for the domain registration. Google Documents and all the other Google products associated with a Google Account are free as long as you are less than 10 persons and no one uses more than about 7 GB storage for e-mail, 1 GB for on-line PDF-files and 1 GB for on-line pictures plus a web-site (which has a storage limit, which I have yet to discover).

Both the Microsoft and the Google solutions use commercial software, but at least to me it appears, that the entry cost for the Google solutions is quite a bit less than for the Microsoft solution. What do you think?

Now, I wonder if Microsoft clould solutions runs faster in Googles Chrome webbrowser than in Microsofts own Internet Explorer. Because clearly visible on the desktop of Erik Kaae was a Chrome browser icon!

Peter Koch in this presentation properly ignored most of HP (that part, which sells personal digital assistants, personal computers and servers). He started by stating, that after the move to the cloud the only thing for the CIO to take care of physically would be the printers. His talk was spiced up with facts about the cost of having people walk to a printer in stead of giving them personal printers. I guess, that I am guilty of that since the church office, at which I am chairman of the council have one large Xerox Multifunction printer for all to share (however, I do have good arguments from a former employee for that solution).

You may ask what this has to do with process safety and / or process operations in general. Not that much, except that possibly you will see companies storing historical plant data, i.e. anything older than one week in the cloud for easy access to these data by analysts and others, e.g. sharing with universities and others for research and other purposes. Just don't forget to also store information about the measurement units in the cloud. Standard cubic feet per hour and kilograms per hour are not quite the same.