What is cloud computing and what can it do for me

The term cloud is used as a metaphor for the internet. Cloud computing is a general term for anything which involves delivered hosted services over the internet.

In broad terms a cloud service has three characteristics which differentiate it from traditional hosting, these are;

  1. It is provided on demand (by the minute or hour in some cases)
  2. It is scalable (a user can have as little or as much as they want)
  3. the service is fully managed by the vendor (you typically only require a computer and internet access)

Cloud computing promises to speed application deployment and lower costs, whilst increasing business agility. It has transformed the way we design, build and deliver applications to the users. Have you used a search engine today?, have you accessed web mail if so you are already using cloud services.

There are public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds but don’t let the jargon put you off, everyone agrees that cloud computing is the key to the future of I.T but lots of these people are unsure of what it is. Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon to offer “cloud services” so it is worth understanding such terms as SaaS (software as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service) or IaaS (infrastructure as a service) to name a few if you need to evaluate a suppliers claims.

Cloud computing has some real benefits but also has risks such as loss of services if your provider has downtime or worse still goes out of business also regulatory concerns over data security so choose your vendor carefully.

I recently setup a really simple system for a plumber who lives down the street; he already had an iPhone, an Apple Mac and an iPad although in his words he wasn’t really sure what to do with them. During our conversation he mentioned that his wife mans the phone at home and jots down all of his incoming appointments then rings him at regular intervals to give him the new list, if the call is urgent she tries to call him straight away, within 10 minutes we had connected his Apple Mac, iPhone and iPad calendar applications up to iCloud (he was familiar with the calendar app anyway), now when his wife enters the call details into a time slot on the calendar app on the Mac the appointment appears on his iPhone and iPad almost instantly and any Urgent appointments are highlighted in red, he now knows exactly when and where he should be, what the problem is before he gets there, the address and customer name and contact details and it cost him nothing as he already had the technology simple, but had this come up a year or two ago it would have been a little more difficult and a lot more expensive to achieve, it’s certainly not the best solution to his problem but it works for him and cost him nothing.

The reason for the anecdote above is to show that the “Cloud” isn’t frightening or intimidating, it’s not the answer to everything but in certain cases it does exactly what it says on the tin.

To conclude, here are a few more terms you may want to research if you want to know more, it is a fascinating subject.

Utility Computing
SaaS
– Software as a service
PaaS – Platform as a service
IaaS – Infrastructure as a service
RIA – Rich internet application
Multi-tenancy
Public, Private, Hybrid Clouds
Virtualisation

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).

 

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Effective Email Marketing

This is an introduction to creating an effective email marketing campaign for your business, subsequent posts will offer advice on building squeeze pages, creating a campaign and tips and tricks to help make it effective.

Even with the advent of social media, smart phones, and tablets, email marketing is still one of the most effective forms of marketing online and that isn’t expected to change anytime soon, so it would be a shame to pass-up email marketing as a possible revenue source for your business.

The mailing list is king, collect as many email addresses from customers or potential customers as you can and once you have them keep them, let’s face it, people are not going to join your mailing list without a good reason, these days people are more suspicious and reluctant to give out any personal data and that includes their email address so for them to give it to a total stranger would be going against what they think is the safe choice, if you want them to persuade them to do that then you have to offer them a worthwhile incentive.

The best way to do that is to give them something for free, we all like to get something for nothing eBooks work well, short reports also work well, even free software (make sure it’s yours to give away).

Building Your List

The first thing you need is a mailing list and, if the list is large enough, an automated bulk mailing system. There are plenty of third-party services that can do this for you, today’s services offer a lot more than just managing your email.

Most services offer a free option often limited to a certain number of subscribers or number of times in a set period you can use the service, this can range anywhere from 50 subscribers to 100 emails a month depending on their terms and conditions but you will not get all of the bells and whistles of the “paid for service”.

If you are just starting out it is worth building your list until you reach your free limit, and then upgrading to a paid plan as it could take a little while to build up your list an you could end up with a paid-for-service that you are simply not ready for, the free service will also allow you to do some early trials and gain valuable experience at no cost.

Starting Your Campaign

Now that you have your list you need a place to put your web form or squeeze page (also known as the opt-in form) so you can collect email addresses they are called squeeze pages because the only objective on the page is to get the user’s email address (my next post will tell you what is needed on a squeeze page and how to optimize it).

You have a few options for how you want to implement the squeeze page you can write a separate HTML page or you can download a template or simply use a page from within your blogging platform you may see a lot of people on the web refer to “landing” and “sales pages” as squeeze pages they are not the same thing there is a subtle difference.

Once you have setup your squeeze page wait until you have at least a month’s worth of messages in the queue ready to go out, why?, well, unless you keep in contact regularly, email addresses tend to go stale and inactive after a sustained period of no contact from you so once they join your list you ideally want them to be getting emails from you right away and on a regular basis.

Actually writing your email campaign series is considered by many to be a dark art but with a little bit of trial and error it is something that you can do quite effectively, email marketing is not new so there are plenty of articles, blogs and resources on the web I suggest you read them learn from others mistakes but be prepared for failures as well as successes.

Good luck!

If you do not feel confident tackling this on your own, lleave it to the experts!

At CodeSpinner we have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).