What is cloud computing and can it transform my business?
When it comes to emerging technologies, there is one concept that has truly revolutionised business in the last few years: the cloud.
In less than a decade, cloud technology has evolved from something that only techy people understood to something that’s become our norm. Without us even knowing we regularly rely on the cloud, experiencing its services daily for emails, messaging apps, online banking and much more.
This increase in personal use has made the cloud easier for people to understand, and enterprising organisations have been quick to see the obvious business benefits.
You might be one of the businesses trying to decide if you should join the 88% of UK organisations who have already adopted the cloud in some form, or you might have some burning questions – specifically, is the cloud right for my business?
It’s a big question and there’s no right or wrong answer. Essentially it comes down to what’s best for your business. To help you decide, we’ve written a straightforward and jargon free guide that explains the pros and cons of moving to the cloud and helps to bust some of the myths.
Back to basics - what is the cloud?
First things first: you’ve probably already got a good idea of what the cloud is and what it does. But just to be sure, we’ll give you a quick overview.
Put simply, cloud computing is the delivery of IT services like storage, servers, and business software over the internet. It’s everywhere in technology, so even if you’re not using the cloud at work you almost certainly will be in other areas of your life. Think of any app or platform you use regularly to stay productive or informed or to communicate, and chances are it’s using cloud computing.
There are an infinite number of ways to implement the cloud. Some businesses go all in, transferring everything to the cloud. Others stick with a hybrid solution, keeping the benefits of some on-site servers and technology.
Most businesses are already using the cloud in some way, whether for data storage or keeping employees communicating when they’re working remotely.
But this only tells half the story.
Because whilst the cloud is fast becoming the new normal and the opportunities for communication are practically endless, there are still concerns about this method of working, specifically around security.
The benefits of moving your business to the cloud
Let’s start with the benefits of moving your business to the cloud. For most companies, the two biggest benefits are simplicity and cost but there’s an array of ways businesses can tap into the cloud’s power.
Here’s 5 of the reasons we think you might be tempted to move:
Work from anywhere:
We’ve entered an era where remote working is the new norm and businesses are relying on tools to keep remote team members working like they’re in the office. Cloud based solutions are key to this, letting staff access shared documents and projects from almost anywhere in the world on their mobile devices or laptop. With teams now looking to access, edit and share documents anytime, from anywhere, this technology has become an expectation rather than a 'nice-to-have'.
As well as the productivity boosting benefits that come with being able to work remotely, the cloud is playing a vital role in ensuring employees can easily and efficiently communicate. Thanks to cloud-based platforms like Basecamp, Zoom and Dropbox Business, how we collaborate and communicate with each other has been completely transformed.
Moving your business to cloud hosting can make growing your business so much easier. If you need scale up (or scale down) quickly you can, because flexibility is part and parcel of the cloud. It offers real flexibility and agility, which means you can launch applications quickly - making it especially perfect for small businesses that want to act faster than their larger competitors.
Choosing the cloud means lowering (or cutting out) traditional and costly storage and hardware options, which can be a real benefit to enterprise level and small to medium businesses looking to skip spending a lot of money on IT setup. Choosing a cloud server means moving to a pay-as-you-go subscription model that’s gentler on your cashflow.
One of the surprise benefits is knowing you’ll never lose sensitive data because of laptops left in a café – because even if an employee loses their device, storage on the cloud means the data stays centrally stored and not on the hardware. You can even remotely wipe data from the lost device, so the data never gets into the wrong hands. With so many of us working remotely, it’s an added layer of security that could be a reputation saver.
When it comes to moving your business to the cloud, there’s no one size fits all approach. Different organisations operate and use data in different ways and cloud servers offer a wide range of hybrid solutions from software (SaaS) to infrastructure (IaaS) services. That means how you use the cloud solutions can be tailored to your business needs.
Let's talk about the downside
As we’ve mentioned, there are concerns about moving to the cloud too. Loss of control can make IT teams wary and then there’s the willingness of long-standing staff to adopt a new way of doing things. And although most people now understand the concept of the cloud, there’s still a lot of confusion around the different offerings and what they mean in practice.
Resistance: If you’re worried about getting staff onboard, get a plan in place before making the move. Book collaborative meetings to find out the reason for any reluctance. Once you get to the bottom of any worries, plan a demonstration of new platforms and be sure to highlight those all-important benefits – like working from home and improved teamwork.
Costs: Whilst running your business using cloud services can be cost efficient, small businesses and start-ups may still find the cost challenging or simply not see a return on their investment.
What about security?
The biggest stumbling block by far when it comes to moving your business to the cloud is undoubtedly security. Making sure your data is secure whilst embracing new ways of working is a daunting task – especially if you don’t have dedicated IT support who are up to date with new trends.
It’s understandable that some business owners still have concerns about the security of cloud computing. Stories about cybercrime have fuelled paranoia and sparked worries around security that can override the benefits. It’s true that accessing cloud services over the internet means you are potentially sharing data with people and organisations that you don't know. And we can’t escape the fact that cyber-attacks from hackers are at a record high.
However, if you ask is your data safe, the answer generally is yes.
Cloud-based solutions can be just as safe as their traditional counterparts, so long as you have a reputable cloud supplier and a good IT support company who always make data security a priority.
Those who build and manage platforms for businesses typically focus a great deal of time and effort on keeping their customers’ data safe, including round the clock monitoring. Choose the right provider, and you won’t have to worry about security at all – they’ll take care of everything and always be one step ahead of the hackers..
Should I move to the cloud?
It’s important to remember that each type of cloud service and the method of using it comes with different levels of control, flexibility, and management.
Understanding the differences between them, as well as knowing a bit about the different strategies used to bring them to life, are essential in helping you decide whether moving your business to the cloud is the right decision for you.
That’s why we’ve created our new cloud for business guide.
And if you have questions, we’re here to help. We know it’s a big decision, one that impacts the productivity and growth of your company. We’ll talk you through the options and help you fully understand it – if the cloud is right for you then we can create a custom technology strategy that ensures a smooth transition and the protection of your data.
Get in touch today to find out more about moving your business to the cloud.