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Apache Authors: Anne Buff, Bob Gourley, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff

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The Death of the Office

Virtual Office

It’s Friday and because it’s Friday we want to talk about getting out of the office. Sure, everyone probably has some solid plans for the weekend however we can all agree on one thing, the best part of the weekend is getting out of the confines of our offices. With this in mind, we want to take this time to chat about the advent of Cloud based solutions and how they are impacting the physical office space.

Looking For Collaboration in the Cloud


Cloud storage solutions have overtaken traditional storage solutions in every format possible. From the user perspective, Dropbox has 175 million active users, Microsoft SkyDrive has 200 million active users and Google Drive has a few hundred million active users. It’s safe to say Cloud storage solutions are in their hey day.”

Workplace collaboration is something every CEO, COO and manager hopes for. Within the physical work space, collaboration between departments, coworkers and managers proves to be an integral part of conducting everyday business affairs. The basic premise is simple: individual members of a team work on a singular task to reach an overall team goal. To accomplish this goal, traditional work places require(d) employees to come into the office and work with one another with face to face interaction. Up until the mid 1990′s, getting work done as a team meant coming into the office, meeting in a conference room and hammering work out. The process was simple and straight forward. However, since the 1990′s, that process has changed from being cemented in physical face to face interaction to flexible virtual interaction taking place globally.

As previously stated, the underpinnings of the virtual office (Coworking) began in the 1990′s. With the advent and market domination of cell phones and email, for the first time ever the traditional office gained the possibility of moving beyond its own physical walls. While cell phones introduced an element of true mobile communication (dropped calls and all), email platforms allowed employees to be connected to their corporate infrastructure while outside of its physical walls. Now, as much as early 90′s cell phones and email began to unshackle traditional office structures, for work to get done, members of a company still had to keep normal office hours. There was no way around it.

Cloud Infrastructure Means Everything


“The main issue with BlackBerry is not that they got it wrong. BlackBerry didn’t get it wrong. BlackBerry got it right yet they got it right before the rest of the world knew what to do with it. The problem with BlackBerry is that it came before its time.”

It wasn’t until BlackBerry unleashed it’s seminal device on the market that the idea of workplace and office mobility really began to take hold. With the release of the first major BlackBerry device, consumers and employees gained the ability to work with a great semblance of mobility. With the BlackBerry employees could stay connected to the corporate infrastructure, write/receive emails, work on company documents, call contacts and perform varying aspects of business. The BlackBerry, above any other device, kicked off the office mobility. However, as already mentioned, BlackBerry was fully before its time. Without the backing of a a modern day Cloud infrastructure supported by powerful instant mobile applications and even more powerful smartphones/tablets (The ICT Market), BlackBerry proved itself to be unable to see what it really needed to take off. When the Cloud finally came to, the company stuck to its guns and were run over by stronger more adept competitors in Apple, Samsung and Google. That being said, BlackBerry was the start of office mobility.

Cloud infrastructures and ever buzzing data centers. The main reason why BlackBerry ended up folding, aside from their insistence on not seeing the writing on the wall, comes from the company launching their main product before the global infrastructure was in place to support it. The reason why iPhones and Android enabled devices being sold on the ICT market (Information Communications Technology) are thriving is due to the Cloud based infrastructure supporting them. Without the industry of always on ever buzzing servers held within data centers, the army of developers building excellent mobile applications and the ability of hardware/software manufacturers to constantly increase device speed, processing power and battery, the ICT market wouldn’t exist. It’s the reason BlackBerry went the way it did. At the time of its unleashing the infrastructure of support wasn’t there.

Cloud Solutions & Software as a Service

Google Drive unleashes the power of the Cloud
“Why any established company or why any startup would rely on per seat office applications is beyond me. With Google Drive, the Adobe Creative Cloud and the ability to work within a Windows or Linux OS through a Cloud VPS, the idea of a physical office is quickly losing its charm.”

Current corporate and consumer architectures operate off of Cloud applications and instant data access. With the use of our quiet yet powerful global data center industry, the growth of the ICT market and by extension, the rise of the virtual office has been heeded by the the growth of Cloud and SaaS based services. If you think about the rise of the virtual office in terms of application mobility, it should be no surprise that the idea of Coworking has taken hold within many industries. It used to be offices all over the world needed certain programs and applications to operate. One of those bundled applications was Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office, as a product, was sold to companies on a per seat basis and needed to be maintained locally along with updated with every new version. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize how not cost effective the per seat model of Microsoft Office (or any software) is for a company.

To deal with the backlash against per seat and the growing influence of Cloud based applications/SaaS delivery models, other providers like Google stepped in to pick up the slack. With powerful and scalable Cloud applications like Google Drive, OX, Zoho and Think Free Office, companies no longer need to invest in expensive Microsoft licensed software. With Cloud services like Google Drive which offer all the major capabilities of Microsoft Office with the addition of Cloud storage and add on applications by need, Cloud office solutions prove to be more scalable, more powerful, more diversified and more affordable than their traditional brethren.

The same holds true for Adobe. Seeing the writing on the wall, Adobe began offering the Abode Creative Cloud – their Cloud suite of adobe applications rented to the public utilizing the SaaS model.

Making the Change


The first few years, there was lots of pressure on us to change and grow up. I should have kept notes on how many people claimed that this wasn’t going to work—that this would break—and that I’d have to move everybody to San Francisco.” – Automattic CEO, Toni Schneider

Everything is in place. As noted by the CEO of Automattic (the company which runs WordPress), the possibility for running your company virtually is highly possible yet also constitutes a risk. Currently the infrastructure for powerful smart devices and power mobile applications are in place. Currently the infrastructure is in place to hire talent from all over the globe and conference with them via digital communication tools like Skype or Go To Meeting. Currently Cloud based applications are easily available for any company needing an avenue offering productivity, collaboration and scalability. There has never been a time in human history in which the idea of abandoning the traditional office space has been attainable. It is now. The office is slowly dying. The only question is will your company be part of that trend?

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