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What is Cloud Computing? (Small Business Discussion)

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It’s difficult to have a true discussion on cloud computing if most of the people in the room don’t know what it is.  It’s a buzz phase so everyone has heard of it. Few people really know what it means?  I have an IT background so I’m usually asked to explain it’s meaning.  I can see faces change as I explain it and understanding hits.

Most small business people will face this question at some point.  Here’s the explanation I give to this question.  The best way to understand cloud computing is to compare it to the other forms of computing available to most small business:

“Local” Computing – You are computing locally if all your programs (or software) and data is stored on your PC’s (or laptop’s) hard drive.  If you have a flash drive or external hard drive, you are still computing “locally”.

Server Computing (or Client/Server Computing) – Your business owns or leases a server.  When you connect to the office network, you can open files stored on that server.  In this case, the programs (Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, etc.) are installed on your PC but you store the files (or data) on the server.  This is very common with databases.

Enterprise Computing – In this case, both the software and the data is stored on your office server.  All the user has to do is type a web address.  The software does not have to be installed on your PC or laptop for this to work.  (There are exceptions to this but that’s another blog post.)

The key here is your business owns or leases the server.  The server is in your office or downstairs in the basement or at the data center.  You can see it, hug it, or take a picture of it.  You have a staff person or contractor that has to maintain it.  From time-to-time, you have to fix it or replace it.  The good part is, you have a server that gives you extended computing power.  The bad part is, you have a costly server that requires specialized skills to maintain.

Cloud Computing (or Cloud Services) – Do you want the extended computing power without the costly server?  Cloud computing can do it!  There are companies with data centers full of servers.  You can “rent” or “share” space on those servers.  You can get access to the software on those servers.  Just sign up as a customer and type in a web address.  Google Docs, Microsoft 360, Yahoo Mail, Evernote, Box.net and SalesForce.com are all cloud services.  When you log into your account to get your data, you have no idea where that server is located.  That’s cloud computing!

This is a VERY simple explanation of cloud computing.  Experts spend hours talking about the types of service, levels of service, software options and vendors available in the cloud world?  This explanation is only to begin the discussion.  You need advice and support from experts as you move into the cloud.  Good luck on the journey!

Thanks for reading the Wheel Life Thinking Blog!

Brent Jackson

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The Next Chapter of Your Life (Quote)

Are You Forward Thinking or Backward Thinking?

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” – Unknown

 

This is a great quote. I saw it on Pinterest and pinned it to my “Words to Live By” Board. It’s a great quote but I don’t think about it in terms of reading and chapters. To me, it’s about thinking forward or thinking backward. Are you a backward thinker or a forward thinker? Re-reading the last chapter is focusing on the past and the mistakes you’ve made. Stop that! You can stay stuck in the past or more on. You can’t change the past so the choice is clear … or it should be. Be a forward thinker. What are your GOALS, not your MISTAKES? Where do you want to be in the future? How do you get there? Make a plan. Focus on that.  Start the next chapter.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Brent Jackson

I’m a Proud Member of the “Swoop In” Club

People lifting a woman  © Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime.com

People lifting a woman
© Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime.com

Let me start by explaining what the “Swoop In” Club is. I was a member of Toastmasters International. As a toastmaster, you have to give speeches in front of the club. The first speech all new toastmasters give is called “The Icebreaker.” It’s one of the easiest speeches because it’s short and you talk about yourself.

A woman joined the club. She talked about her divorce for her icebreaker. She described how she survived divorce because her friends “swooped in.” I remember thinking that was powerful! No one wants to go through a divorce, a death in the family or any other crisis. Unfortunately, crisis happen to all of us at some point. Will your family “swoop in” to support you during a crisis? Will your friends?

Last year, my wife and I were living and working in a group home. It was hard work but we enjoyed it. The crisis came when we lost our jobs. It’s risky to live and work in the same place. If you lose your job, you lose your home at the same time. That’s what happened to us. We lost our jobs and had to move within three days. That’s short notice when you have a house full of furniture and personal belongings.

My wife and I got the news on a Thursday afternoon and had to be out of the house by Sunday night. We sat in the house for about an hour recovering from the shock. Once the shock was over, we started making calls. I called my parents and friends. She called her grandmother, brothers and friends. It was the same story told over and over. “We lost our jobs. We lost our home. We’re not sure what we’re going to do. We’re not sure where we’re going to go. We have to be out by Sunday night.” It could have been really bad but something else happened … PEOPLE SWOOPED IN! Our family and friends said over and over, “I’ll be there!” It was wonderful!

We spent the next day arranging for a storage unit,  renting a moving van, buying moving supplies and getting the house as ready as possible. Saturday morning, with almost no notice, people showed up. We had a crew of family and friends helping us pack the house and get us moved out. One friend canceled a planned weekend vacation to help. By Sunday morning, most of our stuff was in storage and we were living with a relative.

My point is not the story of our crisis. My point is I’m now a member of the “Swoop In” Club. A proud member of the club. I no longer have to wonder about my family and friends in a crisis. I know if a crisis hits, they come running … and that’s an awesome feeling!!! Are you a member of the “Swoop In” Club?

Thanks for reading my blog!

Brent Jackson

Why I’m Writing a Blog: Braggables, Passion and Love!

© Blotty | Dreamstime.com - Word Blog With Globe Over White Photo

© Blotty | Dreamstime.com – Word Blog With Globe Over White Photo

I’m a fan of Tom Peters. He’s a world-class speaker and business consultant.  He’s considered an authority on management and organization effectiveness.  He wrote an article in Fast Company Magazine called, “The Brand Called You“. There’s a quote in the article that explains the term ‘braggables.’

“One key to growing your power is to recognize the simple fact that we now live in a project world. Almost all work today is organized into bite-sized packets called projects. A project-based world is ideal for growing your brand: projects exist around deliverables, they create measurables, and they leave you with braggables.”

– Tom Peters

Even in the short time I’ve been blogging, I find I’m working on a series of small research projects to create my posts.  I’m learning new skills and gaining knowledge in new areas during the process.  Most important, I’m gaining BRAGGABLES!

I’m surprised at people’s reaction when I say I’m blogging.  I get peppered with questions on how I create my content. It makes for great conversation at social and networking events. Plus, it looks good on a resume or an online profile. Reason 1 … Braggables!

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey said it better than I could have. When you have a passion for something, research becomes fun. (Believe it or not.) I like reading and listening to podcasts about subjects I enjoy. Now I get to write about those subjects as well. Energy is no problem when you’re writing about subjects you care about. Reason 2 … Passion!

I once had a co-worker who spent most of his time working from home. We had business calls and emails. However, I rarely saw him in the office. Something changed and I started seeing him every day. I asked him why he gave up working from home? His response … “I’m not getting the love!”

Now I know what you’re thinking … “That’s crazy! What love?” Funny thing is, I understood. He did excellent work. As a result, he got a great deal of positive feedback and compliments at the office. When working from home, all he received was generic call and emails. His compliment ratio dropped dramatically. No love. Clearly the compliments were important to him. He had to stop working from home to get them back.

Here’s another example. I once found a women on Yelp who has very funny reviews. Yelp has a system for giving feedback on a review. You can click ‘Useful’, ‘Funny’ or ‘Cool’ if you like the review. I clicked funny or cool for most of her reviews as I read them. A couple days later, I got a reply from her. All she said was, “Thanks for all the love!”

With these examples in mind, I get ‘love‘ when I blog! It’s very cool to get emails or text messages letting me know someone likes what I post. Reason 3 … Love!

There is a fourth reason I didn’t include in the title … money! I’m not getting that benefit but I know bloggers that do. If I get added to that list someday … yay!!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Brent Jackson

Footnote – I found the Oprah Winfrey quote from an Inc. Magazine article, 15 Inspiring Quotes on Passion (Get Back to What You Love) .