As a Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner, we’re big advocates of cloud computing. We use it, we sing about it, we love it. We’ve been cloud computing in Macclesfield for years now. It’s perfect for us. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody. So are you ready for cloud computing? Here’s a few questions to help you decide…
Does your business need more flexibility?
If you’re finding the restrictions of the 9-5 working day aren’t quite right for you anymore, then it could be time to think about cloud computing. Do you need access to your company files and emails in an evening or at weekends? Do your employees have an increased need for flexible working? Do they sometimes need to work from home? If you’re out on the road at meetings, conferences, events or travelling, can you work remotely? Do you need to? If you can already work remotely, how reliable is your existing solution?
Lots of businesses don’t have this requirement, but many can benefit from greater mobility.
With cloud, all of your company data, apps and software are hosted externally in “the cloud” (i.e. on the servers of your cloud provider) and you connect to it through a web browser. That can be from a laptop, desktop or mobile device and it can be from anywhere with an internet connection. It gives users access to the full power of your business network online, and it increases productivity. It’s slick, robust, secure and reliable and far more dependable that the clunky VPN connections of old.
Do you struggle with a capital expenditure?
Do you struggle to raise the funds for new IT hardware? Would you prefer to see your IT as a running cost, or does it work better for you to get all the spending out of the way in one go? £10 – £20,000 for a new server every five years can be crippling to some businesses.
Cloud computing can significantly reduce the cost of ownership for your IT, turning capital expenditure into a running cost because the need to purchase servers is taken away. As is the need to run those servers so your electricity bills start to look better too. Your data is on your cloud providers’ servers which are managed, maintained and updated as necessary, removing that capex spend while you pay a monthly running cost to rent space on those servers. Licensing is also handled by your service provider. So your IT now becomes a regular monthly fixed fee. Better for budgeting, and a lot less hassle.
And if your business grows and you take on 10 new starters, your cloud provider handles all the licensing, ramps up your server space (if necessary) and you’re done. And it’s just as easy to scale back down again should you need to.
Do you struggle to maintain your network infrastructure?
Technology is changing on an almost daily basis. Do you struggle to keep up? Do you know when your server warranty expires? Is all your software correctly licensed? Is your security solution up-to-date? Do you have the latest versions of your business software? Do you need the latest versions?
You may well have this all under control, but nobody would think any the less of you if you didn’t. It’s a lot to keep up with on top of running your business.
But if you move to the cloud all of this is handled by your cloud provider. You don’t need to think once, let alone twice about it. Even if you have an IT manager in-house, by ridding him or her of these, let’s face it, mundane tasks, they can focus on more business focused projects giving you a better level of service as you enable them to increase their productivity.
Do you have a business continuity plan?
Business continuity planning is an important part of any business plan. Or it should be… Do you have one? You may well do. But even if you do, cloud computing will only work to complement what you already have in place.
Think about the things that could go wrong and jeopardize your business…Fire. Flood. Theft. Equipment failure. Viruses. Now think about what would happen if all of your company data was stored in one place, in your office. It would most likely be destroyed.
You’ve probably got a backup plan in place with your company data securely backed up with backups running daily. But where is that backup? Is that in your office too? If is it, that fire has just destroyed your data AND your backup.
What cloud gives you is an instant emergency backup plan with all of your business critical data and apps stored safely on the servers of your cloud provider where the latest anti-virus software will ensure it’s kept away from the prying eyes of hackers. There, it will be maintained, kept secure, and backed up to at least one alternative location. So a fire, flood or break-in at your office wouldn’t even touch your data. And if your offices became rendered out of action, well you can work from anywhere with an internet connection so send staff home or round the corner to the local coffee shop, and it’s business as usual.
Are you well connected?
What’s your internet connection like at the office? What’s your upload speed? Download speed? Assured throughput? With cloud, you need good connectivity. In some areas, sadly this just isn’t available. Your current internet solution might be fine, or you might have the option to upgrade. But be aware that with cloud computing, connectivity is king and without it, cloud is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.
How strict is your data protection policy?
Does your company have to adhere to specific data protection laws? If you’re in the legal or medical sector for example, you may fall under data protection laws that require your customers information to remain in the UK at all times. So if you go cloud, check where your data will be, where it’s backed up to and where it will failover to. Chose a local cloud computing supplier and you’ll probably have no concerns, but be aware for example that Microsoft’s cloud solution – Office 365 – will store your data in a datacentre in Dublin and back it up to Europe and America. Not generally a problem for most of us, but keep it in mind, depending on your industry sector.
So cloud computing brings lots of important benefits. Cost efficiency, mobility and security to name but a few. That doesn’t mean it’s right for us all, but it’s certainly changed our business for the better and hopefully this post has given you a few things to think about.
If there are any questions that this post hasn’t answered, give us a call or drop us a line – 01625 837800 or email@example.com. We love to talk cloud 🙂