The big new bet in tech for small business

September 28, 2011 No Comments

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Major industry players are hoping their cloud services will make IT as simple as paying for hydro

Two years ago, David MacLaren realized the digital-asset management system his photography company, VRX Studios, relied upon needed an upgrade.

“The system we’d built a decade earlier was reaching the end of its lifespan,” says Mr. MacLaren, president of parent company VRX Solutions in Vancouver. “It could not handle another decade of growth.”

VRX works with more than 10,000 hotels and photographers who take pictures of hotel lobbies, rooms and other amenities worldwide. The photos are stored for distribution to travel agencies and advertisers for both print and online marketing.

All told, the company holds 30 terabytes of data. And in recent years, it has expanded to offer video as well as still images. The company’s data keeps mushrooming.

When it came time to upgrade its system, instead of building a new one in-house, which would require management, maintenance and an upfront investment, Mr. MacLaren opted to outsource his needs to a Windows Azure cloud platform.

“It’s bigger and better than if we had to worry about the IT infrastructure,” he says.

Cloud computing refers to accessing on-demand IT services from a third-party network rather than an internal system. In its simplest form, it’s a personal e-mail account on Gmail, or photo-storage service on Flickr. At the other end of the spectrum, companies have embraced cloud computing through outsourcing their IT, accounting, data storage and customer relations management (CRM) systems.

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