Get started Bring yourself up to speed with our introductory content.

Cloud computing options minus security not an option

For Todd Miller, IT director at Millar Inc., 2015 was “the year of security.” The year of spectacular hacks at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and infidelity dating website Ashley Madison was also the year Millar, a Houston-based maker of cardiac and neurological catheters, made huge investments in security products and fine-tuned policies and procedures “to help the users be more secure without really forcing things down their throats.”

And so, when it comes to cloud computing options, security is a top consideration. It uses a handful of public cloud services – Salesforce’s customer relationship management app for its sales team, for example, and Barracuda Networks for data backup. But before it signs up for a cloud service, its security goes under the microscope. Take Millar’s assessment back in 2013 of Microsoft Office 365, the cloud-based service offering email and “productivity apps” like Excel and PowerPoint.

“One of the critical things was, ‘Can we trust it to safely and securely store our documents? Can we trust it to provide our email safely and securely?'” Miller said.

Todd Miller

The evaluation took six months, but Microsoft eventually convinced Millar to entrust its intellectual property to Office 365. “We have not been disappointed.”

Microsoft 365 also fulfills another of Millar’s requirements for cloud computing options: reducing administration costs. The package costs the company, which has 140 employees in Houston, the U.K. and Auckland, New Zealand, $20 a user — which is far cheaper than what it would cost to maintain operations in-house, Miller said.

But on par with cost for Miller’s IT organization is usability — whether users will find an application, based on-premises or in the cloud, easy to access and easy to use. Office 365, he said, fits the bill here as well, even extending users’ Outlook email application to their mobile devices, so they can check mail on the go. And Millar’s sales folks love Salesforce.

“I think we’d have an internal riot if we ever asked them to move off it,” he said.

The applications fulfill what is, in Miller’s view, IT’s ultimate purpose: keeping the wheels of technology turning so business can go on unobstructed.

“The reality is, if you have a well-run IT department, everything they do is transparent to the user, and if you’re doing your job, then IT is never a discussion,” Miller said. “When people are talking about IT, or they’re talking about your internal help desk, it’s usually because things are not running smoothly or as best as they can.”