Is the Cloud Right For My Business?With bandwidths going up, internet access becoming more reliable, and costs coming down, many businesses are switching to cloud-based services for their internal and external business networks. This means, instead of a physical server and software installed on individual workstations, all your computers access a virtual server or software over the web.
This can be very reasonable for small businesses, and even large businesses often have similar systems due to the many advantages. But the truth is, it may or may not be the right choice for your business at this time. Here are some things to consider...
Cloud-based systems allow your people to work together on the same files without having to worry about conflicting duplicates, versions, or isolated data on one person's computer that someone else can't get to. In some cases, team members can even work on the same documents simultaneously.
Your people can work easily from any office, from home, or on the road. In times of disaster or power outages, business can continue at other locations as well.
If your system or business interacts with the public, it is easier to provide portals that customers or vendors can access and use any time, without relying on your personal systems in the office to be up and running.
All files on cloud-based systems are typically backed up and secured by off-site professionals. This can be a huge benefit at the lower levels, but recent ransomware attacks have even infected these cloud systems, so while some backups you would have to handle are taken care of - a truly reliable backup system requires something more, even in a cloud-based environment. See your IT provider for details.
In-house hardware brings with it costs, maintenance, repair, and replacement expenses that are taken care of by host companies. This can result in much savings. You can also save in less in-house IT personnel requirements. But cloud-based systems typically scale to usage needs, and there are ways to minimize long-term hardware costs of handled properly with an IT managed service provider, so the economics of which is best will depend on your specific business.
Updates & Patches
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is an emerging and important movement in business systems. Individually installed software goes out of date, can stops working with newer operating systems, or have security holes over time. But using a software over the cloud means it is constantly being patched and updated to the latest version. Sounds great for most businesses, but sometimes one's financial software (for example) will need to integrate with a software that handles a specialized in-house tool. There are some cases where such automatic updates and changes can cause problems for some businesses.
People often have security concerns about cloud-based systems, but there are many security advantages as well. A cloud-based service comes with an independent team of people on the other end constantly monitoring and filtering threats. Handled properly, cloud-based systems can also be a better situation to have if a laptop is stolen. Because of the chance of human operator error, no system or option is completely immune to security issues - but this is why we offer security training for your employees. The trick is looking at the vulnerabilities and matching them against the ways your people utilize your business system in the field or office.
The power usage per user comes out to much less for cloud-based systems, due to aspects of scale when it comes to hardware needs - versus individual units in every business across the country. For this reason, your business can be even more environmentally helpful to the planet when it goes to the cloud.
When the Cloud is Not Right
In almost all of these cases, there are exceptions and caveats. Medical practices have additional security requirements; manufacturers may have special needs related to their machinery; and so on. Even then, the options are growing and changing all the time. Contact us for a free consultation so you can be sure you are making the best decision for your business.
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