What Comes First? The Strategy or the Technology?
Over the years, I have seen many small businesses regret purchasing software and other...
With the prevalence of reliable internet access and mobile devices, using cloud computing is a practical and viable solution for small businesses everywhere. Cloud computing has many solutions for the small business: data storage and backup, software applications, and it easily streamlines how information is shared. Cloud computing maximizes efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
If your business is utilizing DropBox, a CRM like HubSpot or SalesForce, Microsoft Teams or Slack for company communication, or any social media, you are already using some form of cloud computing. Cloud computing, with its remote servers, enables users to access data wherever they have an internet connection: in the office, at home, in the field, or on the road. Industries that really benefit from utilizing cloud computing services are manufacturing, retail, government, healthcare, and agriculture.
Migrating to the Cloud has many benefits due to its flexibility and accessibility. These benefits include:
On-premise server systems are costly from the get-go, between the procurement of expensive hardware, implementation costs, the cost of continuous management and updating. And this doesn’t even take into account the space required for housing such services nor the cost of electricity for maintenance. Through a Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription, you get all the functionality of dedicated servers and an IT staff at a fraction of the cost.
Implementing software in-house can take months. And when your organization’s needs or resources shifts, there are more costs and downtime. With SaaS implementations, however, these times are reduced, and your team can begin generating ROI at a much faster rate.
Just like that car that loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot, on-premises software immediately begins to age as soon as you purchase it. Managing updates can be time consuming and costly. With a cloud-based solution, these updates are managed automatically and for you without any hidden upgrade fees.
Businesses often experience growth and fluctuations in bandwidth demands. By their very nature, cloud-based services can scale alongside you with little to no adjustment.
From lost passwords to broken laptops, data loss can happen, and breaches can come from anywhere. Each incident can cost your business money in lost data, business downtime, reduced revenue, and damage to your business reputation. Cloud systems help by encrypting data and keeping it stored in a secure and centralized location so hardware losses do not affect your productivity.
Cloud based programs provide greater accessibility than hardware-based programs, allowing anyone with access to work on the go. The cloud also enables greater opportunities for collaboration amongst teams who may not be in the same location.
There are many different IT services your business can utilize to maximize efficiency and keep up with the dynamic needs of your clients. Some of the most useful services a Cloud Service Provider offers are:
With cloud backup, the business sends a copy of their data over a network to an off-site server hosted by a Cloud Service Provider (CSP). The service provider charges a fee based upon capacity, number of users or bandwidth. Using a backup cloud service allows your business to protect its data without investing in additional equipment.
The cloud can also serve as the primary location for your organization’s data storage. Storing the data in the cloud reduces the need to have physical data storage on-site. No more storage closet turned hot server room. This centralized location for file storage is also ideal for files that multiple people need to access from various locations. With the cloud, any file stored in the cloud can be accessed by anyone with internet access and the necessary secure identification credentials.
Businesses can also have their telephone services via Cloud Based services such as Zoom, Teams, or RingCentral. A cloud-based phone system works similar to a standard voice over internet protocol (VoiP) telephone system, however, the CSP hosts the software on their servers and provides access to the system to their clients over the internet. It offers greater scalability and is more resilient than on-site systems.
CSPs often assist with premise-to-cloud migrations, which is the process of moving data and applications from on-site equipment to a cloud environment. A successful cloud migration requires the planning of technical, financial, and security assets. Your plan needs to ensure that you can get all of your data to its new home safely and securely without causing too much downtime at your organization.
Some businesses utilize co-location services, which is an arrangement in which a business rents space in a data center for their servers and other hardware. Under this agreement, the user owns their own equipment and is responsible for managing and maintaining it. The co-location facility provides the building space, bandwidth, power, cooling and physical security. This option is ideal for organizations that want more control over their data or need to do so to comply with regulations associated with their but don’t want to host their own equipment on-premises. Some co-location facilities also offer managed services.
Choosing the right cloud service provider can be confusing. Here are some wise questions you should consider before signing up with any cloud computing subscription service.
There are various types of clouds to consider—public, private, and hybrid. Depending upon your organization’s needs, budget, and industry regulations, you have options. If you know what type of service you need, make sure that your potential CSP offers that service. A good CSP will be able to tell you the services they offer and help you determine which ones will help you best achieve your business goals.
Ask potential CSPs what network and server-level security measures they have in place to protect your sensitive data. These should include encryption, firewalls, antivirus protection, multi-factor authentication, and threat response teams. Most industries, such as healthcare, have specific privacy requirements to remain compliant and your CSP should be aware of these regulations. For example, not all cloud environments are HIPAA compliant.
Cloud computing involves the storage of data at off-site locations, so the security of these locations is important as well. How closely are they monitored and where are they located? Many industries, such as the financial industry, have regulations about where data is stored. So, make sure that your provider’s products, systems, and data are compliant with your industry standards.
Make sure that you understand just how you will have access to your data and how your cloud migration will affect your current work environment. Make sure that also your provider can meet your business needs in the future regarding scalability.
Pricing for cloud computing can vary greatly, so make sure that you understand how and when you will be charged. Are their upfront costs? What if you need to add services? What is included in your subscription fee? How long is your contract and will you be billed hourly, monthly, quarterly, or annually?
Secure does not equal compliant. Understanding the many laws and regulations pertaining to data privacy, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS, can be daunting. Do they have a compliance expert on staff or partner with a compliance firm? Make sure they are up to date on the latest rules and regulations that can affect your data.
Cloud computing makes your data available to you 24/7/365 and you should have support available around the clock as well. Ask your provider if they have 24-hr technical support, what their holiday support looks like, and if this comes with an extra cost. Make sure you are aware of their service agreements so that you have an accurate picture of how long problems will take to be resolved.
pim, through the ProActive Cloud, can meet the demands of your organization’s cloud computing needs. The ProActive Cloud is dynamic, secure, encrypted, resilient, and redundant. pim’s data management services address important technology concerns such as email services, file sharing and business productivity services, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), backup services, firewalls, encryption, and co-location services.