5 years in the cloud

Being a cloud-based WordPress agency.
By Martin Dower.

Time sure flies, its half a decade since we embraced the cloud and we can’t imagine life without it’s warm and magical embrace.

The journey started for real back in 2008, so that’s 7 years ago, as we moved our 2 primary communications channels (email and project management) onto the cloud.

This really is a story of early-adoption, light innovation and massive disruption.

But before we start I should set the scene: We are a WordPress Agency, thats a creative and technical agency that designs, builds and supports digital service (web sites, mainly) using the open-source WordPress platform. The digital world has very much defined the cloud, making it fit needs, so we’re the fortunate ones. For many industries a wholesale move to the clouds is not practical or appropriate.

So, just as the recession was taking hold in 2008, we rolled out Google Apps for email and Basecamp for project management. Lots of folks were skeptical, many were downright rude, some thought we lacked credibility by using these services. I think we had the last laugh, and we’re still chuckling today.

The cloud just suited us really well so in short order our phone system moved to the cloud, then our chat functions, development servers, time-recording, resource planning, publishing, marketing, operations, monitoring, version control, accounting and finally, with the creation of our cloud-based support portal in 2012, we became 100% cloud-based and virtual.

Lots of folks warned us about dependence on the cloud, security issues and a fear that your data is not yours. We can’t now imagine a life without the cloud and would be poorer, unhappier and less effective without it.

But how far could you go with the cloud?

Well, we don’t even operate any full-time offices anymore (they went in 2012) but use a contemporary approach to location independent working with co-working and shared space working.

It saved us nearly £100k of office costs in the first two years and has increased our productivity by over a third. This final step in our 5 year cloud plan has made the greatest impact on the business. Its been an expensive and bumpy journey – and with few working examples we’ve had to plough our own furrow – but it’s been worth it a million times over.

Again, some people scoffed and said you need a glass palace with fuzeball tables, an on-site organic cafe and yoga on the roof terrace. We thought our people should be able to choose where, when and how they work – and support them heavily in their quest for working nirvana.

Its not an overstatement to say that the adoption of the cloud has changed our world profoundly. We might not have even still been here.

It might be coincidence, but the iPad is also coming up for 5 years old. We adopted tablets very early and universally, some saw them as executive playthings, we saw the potential to enrich and extend location independence.

Timing is everything and the arrival of tablets with the pervasive dominance of the cloud, I suppose it was obvious that the combination would change how many of us work.

And its great to see Apple and Microsoft working together to crack the issues surrounding tablets in the workplace and on the cloud.

If you’re just starting on your journey to the cloud, or maybe you’re still stuck in physical offices with a 9-5 existence. Come and talk to us, we’d love to share our lessons.