Back in the day, all the equipment business needed to run successfully could be found in their office. Confidential records were housed in clunky filing cabinets, collaboration meant dragging everyone into a meeting room and employees were only really able to work when they were sitting at their desks. From a security perspective, it probably wouldn’t have been too hard for someone to take a sneak peak at some of the physical documents housed in those clunky cabinets and if there was a fire in the building, it’s likely that these critical records would be destroyed.
Enter digital technologies. Not only have these tools and resources changed how companies function, they’ve made entire industries more productive and efficient. And much of this increased efficiency is enabled by Cloud Computing. Now, before you get too intimidated by the mention of Cloud, allow us to explain.
Consider the office we described above. Cloud Computing means that clunky filing cabinets and physical storage can be replaced by virtual storage. Collaboration and remote work are made possible by Cloud because multiple people can access the same documents and resources at the same time and they can do so from anywhere. And gone are the days when a business could lose everything in the event of a flood or fire, with Cloud, important information is stored remotely and is kept secure.
It all sounds rather dreamy, doesn’t it?
So, why have some businesses not embraced the Cloud Computing trends?
Well, when it comes to SMEs, a common problem is a lack of understanding around what migrating to the Cloud actually entails and how making a move can benefit your business.
Luckily for you, we’ve put together this short guide to help small business owners understand all the ins and outs of Cloud Computing and make the best decision for their business.
Let’s start with the basics, what is Cloud?
Migrating to the Cloud basically means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of accessing these resources from your computer’s hard drive. If you’re using tools like DropBox, Gmail or Skype, these are perfect examples of Cloud Computing at work. None of your Gmail emails are actually stored on your computer; they’re stored by Google and made available to you whenever you need them via the Internet.
Business owner need to decide what business information is most suitable to move to the Cloud and what would be better suited staying in-house. For example, a business may decide to store their emails or file backups in the Cloud, but would opt to store more sensitive business information privately.
It’s important to mention that there are different Cloud models and different ways to deploy Cloud. Your Cloud service provider will help you to mix and match these different approaches to find the right Cloud offering to meet your needs but let’s run through each quickly.
What are the different Cloud models?
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): A Cloud provider will host any business infrastructure; from hardware and software to storage.
- Platform as a service(PaaS): A business can deliver their applications over the Internet, meaning that SMEs don’t have to install in-house hardware and software to develop or run new business apps.
- Software as a service (SaaS): This model uses the Internet to deliver software that is managed by a third-party. Think Dropbox or Gmail.
When it comes to the different deployment methods, your decision depends on the type of data you’re working with. For sensitive corporate information a Private Cloud is probably the best option because this data is stored on a private network that cannot be accessed by anyone else. Less important data can be stored on the Public Cloud where the service provider will house the resources of multiple clients in one place. For companies looking to store some confidential and some less critical business information, a Hybrid Cloud offers the best of both worlds, providing some Private and Public Cloud options.
Now that you hopefully have a better understanding of all the technical stuff, let’s get into the benefits.
Here are four reasons we think small businesses should consider a move to the Cloud
- Lower costs: Perhaps one of the most obvious benefits of migrating, Cloud offers small businesses countless opportunities to save money. With Cloud, businesses no longer have to spend a sizeable amount of money on the latest and greatest technologies or hiring highly qualified staff because they can easily access the skills and resources offered by their Cloud provider.
- Better collaboration: With all business resources available, at all times, online, it’s easier for teams to share ideas and work together on the same project, regardless on their location.
- Increased flexibility: In line with the above point about improved collaboration, businesses need to realise that their employees are becoming more and more mobile. Cloud promotes productivity by allowing these people to work from anywhere and at anytime.
- Greater scalability: Most small businesses are eyeing growth, but struggle to grow because they lack the resources to do so. With Cloud, an SME can add or remove resources as their needs change, allowing them to take on new projects or downsize with ease.
So, do you need Cloud? If you’re still a little unsure, our monthly newsletter is packed full of all the latest happenings in the Cloud, telecoms and SME space. To sign up, simply complete the form below.