It’s been a busy few months for the big tech players, Google, Apple and Amazon. Each has introduced new cloud-based music services poised to change the way you purchase, listen to and share music. The initial offerings are fairly similar to one another and aim to move your music storage and listening experiences away from personally stored collections on a desktop or laptop computer to a central storage location within their datacenters.

Naturally, our internal security alarms started ringing when the first announcements were being made earlier this year, but after spending some time with the services, our resistance to the services has lessened and we’re actually quite impressed with the practicality of the end product. Hop on over to Mashable to learn more about how each one compares or keep reading for our impressions of cloud music in the small business space.

Cloud-based music streaming is not a new concept. Streaming radio and video sites have provided playlist functions for years and companies like Pandora have made their public offerings based on the streaming model. Applications like Subsonic have allowed users to create their own cloud-hosted music service from their own libraries with a wealth of features unmatched by bigger companies and the alternatives are many. So how does this help users? More importantly, how does this help the small business?

There are always factors at play when considering any new technology and that’s no exception here. But the greatest aspect of these new services (focusing on Google Music) is the lack of configuration. It’s ready to go. There’s no software to install, no configuration that needs to be done on the user end. If you have a Gmail account, you can simply sign in and begin uploading your music. From there, you can continue listening from anywhere you have an internet connection. Apps for Android and iPhone allow you to listen on the go and the web interface allows streaming from any computer.

Google Music

Google's new Music application is available for a range of portable devices like Android phones and tablets, as well as through a web interface.

For businesses, it means keeping user music off the corporate network, freeing up storage space (which is another problem entirely) and reducing the risk of users compromising security policies while moving files on and off the network. On the downside, though, having an office full of audiophiles may become troublesome as more network bandwidth is utilized. Internal systems may begin to slow down with more and more streaming protocols, something administrators have struggled with since the dawn of time. It’s a tossup for managers, but as convenient technologies migrate problems onto network admins, the hardware manufacturers are advancing infrastructure technology to keep up.

More and more networking equipment is being designed around these challenges, as Quality of Service capabilities are integrated into lower-cost routers and switches, but this can be an added burden of responsibility on network administrators and stress on the equipment throughout the organization without proper implementation designs in place. The same can apply for any new cloud-based service; however. There’s nothing worse than needing to quickly access something on the company intranet or on a vendor’s FTP and getting stuck in the traffic of a sea of music and video streamers. It quickly becomes clear that as personal and enterprise tech advances, so too must the technical prowess of organizational management.

As such, it’s always important to have clear usage policies for even the smallest of businesses, and emerging cloud services are a great example as to why. While managers and staff may be attracted to the convenience of streaming their entire music libraries from a single, always-accessible source or the prospect of removing unnecessary file clutter from corporate assets, it’s important to recognize the result of utilizing new technologies in a corporate space and position your network hardware, personnel, and legal policies to adapt. Make sure your organization has clear guidelines to manage shifts in how staff use resources and ensure changes in IT policy are reviewed on a yearly basis, at least. We’ll be the first to admit that new the new technology is awesome. We love it, personally, but it’s important to understand the implications of that convenience from a well-rounded perspective when bringing them into the workplace.

 

TL;DR (Too long; didn’t read)

 

Music streaming is awesome, but it’s important that users and managers recognize some important implications in the workplace:

  • Heavy usage can burden the network
  • QoS should be put in place to ensure critical resource availability
  • Staff usage policies should account for Cloud services
  • Policy reviews should be reviewed yearly