Despite the government’s attempts to enthuse the economy by selling off the Royal Mail and even the Blood Plasma Service and transplanting some B+ everywhere, B- still seems to be the case with capital purchases for many well established companies. Well, I suppose if B cautious was a blood type then that would be more appropriate, but I’m trying to make some lame puns here…

I know a lot of IT managers and advisors on the circuit, possibly myself included saying that certain equipment needed replacing as it was 5 years old and almost dead. In fact throughout the recession some kit has made it to 8 years and beyond. Now, I like to think it was because of the expertise in the selection process by genius people like yours truly. However, I suppose I should also give some credit to *some* of the IT vendors out there who have made some very sturdy kit.

That said, isn’t it a bit embarrassing when you’ve said kit is going to die any time and it just doesn’t. In my case with some of the stuff I look after it’s been a constant juggling of swapping parts between things, finding proverbial and sometimes real sticking plasters to cope with storage running out, RAID controllers failing, power supplies blowing and one server in a data centre that you’ve not even virtualised yet.

What’s more is someone has talked to company directors about clouds, I blame that Apple malarkey. So after 3 or more years of asking for new kit, we’re meeting IT managers who are actually being forced to the cloud!

People may have read that I’m a bit of a cloud sceptic but I’ve also noted that it has its place but the UK simply doesn’t have good enough infrastructure in place and for us, at the moment the economics don’t always stack up – see my top ten considerations for moving to the cloud. However, as a technologist my mind is always open – I’m using Windows 8.1 after all and it’s not even General Availability yet, ner ner ner…

However I do still keep banging on about this connectivity thing. Here in Manchester I’ve got about as much bandwith I need reliably and cheaply but when I do work up in Cumbria it’s tough and I’ve written about it even for papers for many years. Even today I was visiting one of my long established business associates and despite him being located on a large business park in Carlisle his connectivity was poor. I believe all the money the government has dumped to BT will mean FTTC will be on its way but I’d never bank on a big green cab being in easy reach until I’ve seen it.

I’m a bit dejected really – he asked me to pop into his new office for a coffee and give him some advice on a server and a small phone system. I found myself saying he didn’t need a server, although even he was saying he did. I recommended cloud based CRM and accounts – and we practice what we preach on that. But then I realised for his business, these weren’t necessarily the best fit and if you’re already established with on-premise accounts, why would you go through the pain of moving and migrating to have fewer features than you do now?

As I’ve said in previous blogs Cisco and Microsoft have ushered us down this route of the cloud, however Cisco this summer have gone one better – they’ve discontinued all their SMB telephony equipment, the UC320, UC540, UC560 and the BE3000. Some of which weren’t even three years old, or in my opinion – complete! This also despite me being involved in one of their focus groups earlier in the year! In their case, we’re told the future for companies like my friends’ telephony is the cloud – although at present Cumbria and the Lake District appears to have the wrong sort of clouds. Nor are there any products from the major manufacturers to fill the void.

I happen to believe that FTTC will help and controversially, I think it was a good idea that the government just handed BT the cash to do it – perhaps they shouldn’t have got it that easily. However, I watched the EU funded Project Access in Cumbria fail – simply because it wasn’t available through traditional retail channels. It was only available via Your Communications (now Vodafone after several takeovers). At least if it goes into the BT Openreach Infrastructure it is readily available to most companies to wholesale and resale and it’s going to be easy and sustainable for people to order.

With any luck the cloud fog will lift soon and people will actually see that the technicalities of this type of infrastructure – as faddy as they are – just don’t lend themselves to suitability everywhere in the UK. As we come out of the recession and company management who have learnt about the cloud from their iPhones (that applies to tech company staff too!) realise it’s not entirely fit for everyone, spare a thought for the many IT managers and advisors who have to try and make something work… again!

Oh yeah and I’m back… sorry for the long break!