17 things you should go ahead and cloud

Some companies are already sky high in cloudy goodness, while others are still procrastinating. The following items should rise to the top of your cloud priority list

I'm on a cloud kick this month. Not long ago, I wrote about how my company had gone "all-in" with the cloud. To be specific, we mostly went SaaS. This was my answer to the "cobbler's dilemma" (the cobbler's kids have no shoes); while we ran around bringing other people to the cloud or big data, we had neglected to take our own advice. This resulted in an emergency cloudification.

When you think about it, most of us are at the point now where are there a bunch of things we should just cloud thoughtlessly before something happens. Right now, before we regret not doing it:

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1. Backups: Unless you have two data centers or DR centers that are far enough apart that nothing could possibly happen to both simultaneously, just backing up to "over there" in the traditional way might be insufficient. What happens if you have one of those 100 year storms take out the northeast or a strong east coast earthquake? Are your backups replicated across geographic areas and safe from the Sharknado or the upcoming Sharkuricaine? Cloud backups are.

2. Faxes: It is still necessary to communicate with the dummian world. Dummians continue to think the fax machine is not only relevant technology, but that it is somehow safe and secure or that businesses that don't have them are garage companies. Yet there's no reason to stoop so low as to have an actual fax machine -- nor the inevitable "Office Space" moment with a fax machine. There were cloudy fax services before cloud was cool or even a marketing term. You get a fax number, and when someone faxes you something, it ends up in your email. I've used e-fax for years.

3. Training videos: Every other Friday my company does a "training Friday" where everyone in the Durham office squeezes into a room or two, we telecast to our Chicago location, and we cover a technical topic. These are great epics because food is provided (usually Thai food because it is the only thing we can agree on besides "not pizza again"). We record these for future victims ... er, I mean hires. I'd been sharing them on DropBox as big fat files. Apparently this was seen as not very efficient. They're all on YouTube in our own private channel. You can't see them, so there.

4. CRM: If you have more than one salesperson, you're probably too big to self-host your CRM. Salesforce has been around for more than a decade, and there are less expensive alternatives like SugarCRM. The SugarCRM advantage is that if you start self-hosting with the free version, you can go cloud later with no-to-low data migration issues. On the other hand, Salesforce bought Pardot and is buying up the landscape around SugarCRM, which is a famously bad mumbo jumbo of PHP. I'm not complaining about PHP, I'm complaining about the kind of PHP that makes PHP developers look down on their fellow PHPers in the way that Lisp developers look down on everyone else.

5. Filesharing: We moved to Google Drive almost entirely. There is still some Dropbox around for some reason that eludes me. This stuff is cheap and has forms that work as a Windows share (aka CIFS/SMB/Samba) or mirroring, etc. You can even share things at http links. Seriously, if you haven't at least tried Dropbox or a similar service, I think you probably do live under a rock ... just saying. Constantly available (minus those 30 seconds a few weeks ago), constantly scaled, and reliable.

6. Revision control: If you need private or public repositories, GitHub and Bitbucket are your friends. These services have been tested and proven reliable by scores of developers. Your self-hosted repository has been sucking valuable development hours away from billable work for far too long.

7. Issue tracking/project management: There are plenty of tools for these activities -- and there really isn't a compelling reason to host your own JIRA (for instance).

8. HR management: As enjoyable as email and calendars are for vacation requests and other HR juiciness, you eventually need HR management software. This stuff can cloud pretty easily unless you're a gigantic organization with some massive customized Peoplesoft thing (in which case you have fun with that, I'll be enjoying my nice Web interface).

Stuff to think about, then cloud

Not everything will be effortlessly cloudable. Some things require more thought and planning. Consider the following:

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