Is Your Business Ready For The Cloud?

More than ever before, Small to medium size businesses are looking to the cloud to house business data. Whether it is software applications or whole servers, the idea that you can save on large capital expenditures is peeking business owners interest. But what are the risks and what are the benefits?

I like to give you the bad news first:

  1. Lack of internet access leaves data out of reach – When your network is on site and you want to ensure it never goes down than you build in redundancy. You have redundant hard drives, fan kits, power supplies, etc. Well when you move to the cloud redundancy does not go away. You must consider having TWO internet connections, preferably one over the air ISP and one Cable ISP. This will ensure if one ISP goes down then you have something else to fall back on.
  2. Automatic updates enforce change – When a new update is available it happens seamlessly, managed by the vendor and rolled out to users in a quick, efficient manner. If you didn’t want the update, well, tough luck.Let’s say an upgrade has taken place overnight and a key feature that you relied on has been removed or a function has been added that will give you security nightmares. While managing your own software and systems upgrades can take more time, it does at least give you the control to decide how and when it is implemented, so allowing you to prepare for the changes.
  3. Tied to the Cloud – Once you sign up for cloud services it is very hard to bring it back onsite. If you are all of a sudden feeling regret with the decision you made, well better fork out a lot of money to rebuild your in house network.
  4. Still need 3rd party IT to support your infrastructure – If you are looking to the cloud to solve your in house IT Department expense, don’t get ahead of yourself. What if your Wifi goes down? or your switches are failing? There is still infrastructure that is in place and needs to be managed.

Benefits

  1. Lack of internet may be a blessing in disguise – So your internet is down and you can’t work! Well go home and use your internet! Not much more I need to say about that.
  2. Flexibility – The second a company needs more bandwidth (storage, speed, reliability, etc.) cloud based services can typically meet your demands immediately. Traditionally your IT team will have to research the requirements, make sure your current equipment is expandable and then move forward with a project
  3. Disaster Recovery – When companies start relying on cloud-based services, they no longer need complex disaster recovery plans. Cloud Based service providers can typically handle this better and faster.
  4. Automatic software updates – Yes these can be cumbersome and difficult to acclimate yourself to on an ongoing basis, but if you are security conscious, than this is a BIG benefit. Keeping your computers up to date with the latest updates and patches will ensure that you are protecting your data by all means possible.
  5. Document Control – Traditionally if any remote employee, or someone at a different branch, needs information then workers have to send the files back and forth. Or they have to remote in using a secure VPN tunnel which, if you have done before, can be a pain. Cloud computing allows everyone to access files in real time in one centralized location in the cloud. There are even functions where employees can chat with each other whilst making changes.

There are many more risks and benefits but I wanted to highlight some important ones that will help you make a decision. My best suggestion for you is to find a professional IT consultant to help you make this decision. Like I mentioned above, once you go to the cloud, it’s tough to bring it back.

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