The common perception of cloud computing appears to be, *clears throat* clouded with marketing buzzwords and tech jargon. My goal with this post is to help bring this technology out of the clouds and back down to earth. Doing this will hopefully help business owners make well-informed decisions before considering whether or not the cloud is a good fit for their business. At the end of this post, there is an invitation for you to request a free cloud readiness consultation and e-book to determine if cloud computing is right for your particular business. I encourage you to take advantage of this before making any decisions since we’ve designed it to take a hard look at the functionality and costs for you as a business. Nexxtep's goal is to provide you with the specific information you need to make a sound decision about this innovative technology.
Back To The Basics
The easiest way to not only understand what cloud computing is but also gain insight into why it’s gaining in popularity is to compare it to the evolution of public utilities. Back in the industrial age, factories had to produce power on their own to run machines that manufacture their products. For many years, the production of energy was every bit as important to their company’s success as the skill of their workers and the quality of their products. Be it textiles or railroad spikes; using machines gave these companies enormous competitive advantages by producing more goods with fewer workers and in less time. Unfortunately, this put factories into two businesses: the business of manufacturing their products and the business of producing power.
Fast forward in time to the concept of electric current generated in central power plants; its delivery to factories as a utility caught on fast. These innovations meant manufacturers no longer had to be in the business of producing their own power. In fact, for a brief time, it became a competitive necessity for factories to take advantage of the lower-cost option offered by public utilities. This innovation is analogous to what cloud technology is doing for business.
Advances in technology and Internet connectivity are driving down the costs of computing power. In fact, you are probably already reaping the benefits of cloud computing in some way but perhaps hadn’t realized it. Gmail, Office 365, Twitter, Dropbox, and many other applications that exist “in the cloud” where you can access it and pay a monthly fee or utility pricing. You don’t purchase and install software in the traditional sense, but instead, access it via an Internet browser. As a small business, one might wonder “How can my company take advantage of the economic benefits brought about by advances in cloud computing?”
Benefits Of Living In The Cloud
The small/midsize business market will contribute 40% of a projected $141 billion in spending on the public cloud by 2019. This is a critical stat to look at because one will need to leverage this innovation, like the old factories mentioned previously, to stay competitive. Cloud computing enables a business to be agile, secure, and profitable. Let's break down these benefits.
For a business, being agile translates into scalability, mobility, and flexibility, so if your business is growing, the cloud can grow with you. There’s no need for you to buy more than you require in anticipation of future IT demands. Predictable IT costs are probably the single most compelling reason why companies choose to move their network (all or in part) to the cloud. With cloud computing, everything from hardware to software can be managed in the cloud, by someone else, and all at a predictable monthly budget. This moves your IT cost from capital expenditure to operating expenditure. For a peek into the financial benefits that cloud computing makes possible, check out Paul’s post here.
We are a mobile-first world. Having your infrastructure in the cloud gives you the freedom to access your desktop and applications from anywhere and any device. If you travel a lot, have remote workers or prefer using a tablet while traveling and a laptop at your house, cloud computing will give you the ability to work from any device they wish. Overall, this is much more efficient than being limited to accessing your data from the local server in the office. In a way, cloud computing lets you take the business wherever you go. Some organizations cannot afford any downtime, while others can do without their network for a day or two. If you move, your server will remain accessible.
The server in your office is vulnerable to many threats, including viruses, human error, hardware failure, software corruption and, of course, physical damage due to a fire, flood or other natural disasters. One of the biggest reasons to use cloud computing for your business is to mitigate data loss. First, there’s no way for hackers to access your data closet physically. Second, regardless of other incidents that could occur, such as power outages or even outdated equipment, these also do not affect what you’ve stored over the internet. Let’s look at an even better example of how cloud computing protects you from data loss.
What if your computer became infected with ransomware? It’s malicious software that encrypts all the information on your computer, and the data becomes inaccessible on your end. To make matters worse, however, the hacker also demands a sum of money. Failure to pay on time will result in all of your data being deleted. If you have these files stored away through various networks, this generally does not affect you. Remember, that these hackers don’t get their power by making your device inaccessible. They control you by threatening your sensitive data. However, if you have it stored away, they have no way to intimidate you. Protection of your critical data is one of the essential reasons to use cloud backup for your business. Plus, like a public utility, cloud platforms are far more robust and secure than your average business network because they can leverage economies of scale to invest heavily into security, redundancy and failover systems, making them far more resilient.
Things To Watch Out For
There are many things to consider when looking at integrating cloud computing into a business. The planning and due diligence that needs to be done, prerequisites that have to be determined and the inevitable “quirks” that need to be ironed out once you make a move can be overwhelming. The information I covered in this post plus much more can be found in our e-book 5 Critical Facts You Must Know Before Moving To The Cloud. Drop us a line if you have questions about how a cloud migration would look for your business.