Cloud Computing

I have been encouraging students and colleagues to migrate from Microsoft Office 2004 (ours is an Apple school) to Google Docs primarily because most already have Gmail accounts. However, I remain conflicted regarding which online service would best serve our needs. One thing is certain. As a small inner-city Catholic girls high school, we have better uses for our limited resources than upgrading our MS Office and Adobe software products every few years. Migration to free or very low cost online services becomes a higher priority as our locally installed software suites continue to age. While we can’t completely rule out free locally installed substitutes such as Open Office, keeping things technically simple through use of web-based applications appeals to me. Complicating the issue is, of course, the question of trust. Will whatever service we adopt be reliable, safe and secure in the long run? On the other hand, are our aging servers and lack of a reliable backup system even less trustworthy?

There are an ever increasing number of viable options and even Microsoft has announced their 2010 planned entry into the market. Microsoft plans to offer reduced editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. I’ve only started to look closely at Zoho.com’s offerings and so far I’m impressed by both the depth and breadth. Consider a web-based suite of applications that includes:
–word processing (“Writer”);
–spreadsheet (“Sheet”);
–presentation (“Show”);
–customer relations manager (“CRM”);
–e-mail (“Mail”);
–note taker (“Notebook”);
–document management (“Docs”);
–wiki (“Wiki”);
–organizing tool (“Planner”);
–instant messaging and group chat (Chat”);
–web conferencing (“Meeting”);
–project management (“Project”)
–web applications creator (“Creator”);
–database and reporting (“Reports”);
–invoice (“Invoice”); and
–centralized public repository (“Share”).

This could be the one but will they be around long enough? At least give it a look.

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