I got a phone call last week from a client I hadn't heard from in a few years. They were making plans for the first major change to the way that they do business in the last five years and had, what they thought was a clearly defined question for me to answer. This wasn't a call that would lead to any business for me; it was just a longtime colleague from earlier in my career calling to ask my opinion.
The business case was this; they were rolling out their first unified mobile sales group in the history of the company. Rather than let each different group handle things their own way they were planning ion implementing a standardized structure for their roughly 150 field sales people. This is going to be a top to bottom redo, with new policies, procedures, equipment, and software standardized across the board. The question that my friend called me with was, he thought, a simple one. From the list of four backup applications he currently had in house, could I give him some feedback on which one was best suited for the new mobile group?
The first thing I thought of when I heard his list was that I knew the top two vendors also offered a cloud backup solution that would work perfectly for the relatively small number of users involved here. So I pointed that out and suggested that this might be the perfect project for him to see if he could successfully integrate a cloud service with the services his datacenter currently provides.
His initial response was very knee jerk; what about data security, who has control of my information, it will be out of my control, etc., etc., etc. But I simply pointed out that the data was already out there wandering around on the user laptops, and knowing that everything was reliably backed up and secure could remove a lot of potential headaches. I gave him some links to services from vendors he was already considering and sent him on his way.
Backup for mobile or remote users seems like an excellent entry point for evaluating cloud services in your existing environment. Easy to see how effective it is and to measure its impact on your IT support and time issues, and simple enough to implement or change should it not be what you need. And my old colleague? This morning he emailed me to let me know that they were starting a trial with a cloud service from one of his existing application providers.