Are you confused about 'The Cloud'? Maybe you manage a small to mid-sized business and are unsure how the cloud would benefit your your company? Or perhaps you want to know more about the risks involved with migrating your business to the cloud?
If you answered, YES, to any of those questions you could be making some fairly common technology errors that could be affecting your bottom line and the ability to grow your business. Don't worry - you are not alone! Most business owners and managers do not have the time or the resources to fully understand the most current advances coming out of the world of technology.
with this in mind, here are a few terms and tips to help you understand 'The Cloud' and how it relates to your business.
What and Where is the Cloud?
In the most basic terms "going to the cloud" simply means putting your critical data and business applications on someone else's computer. You and your employees then access those applications and data through the internet. Those computers are typically servers that are stored in large data centers. Most business owners that have some or all of their "stuff" (yes, that's the technical term used in the industry) in the cloud but cannot tell you precisely where that data is stored. The four largest and most popular cloud providers are Microsoft, AWS (Amazon Web Services), Google, and IBM.
Should you Move your Business to the Cloud?
If you haven't been living under a rock the last few years, you have likely been inundated with commercials and ads leading you to believe that migrating your business to this magical cloud with cure all the problems with your business... The old phrase, "If it sounds too good to be true..." definitely applies here.
The cloud can offer a number of benefits to a business but it is by no means a magic wand that will immediately eliminate all your issues. Moving to the cloud should be as much of a business decision as it is a technical decision. Cloud services have a significantly lower start-up cost than an internal server-based infrastructure and can be scaled much faster and without additional hardware.
The drawback to the cloud is you will have to pay a recurring fee to maintain your license and you are at the mercy of your cloud provider meaning if they decide to raise their rates you'll have to pay or move providers.
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What are the Risks Associated with the Cloud?
As with any type of change you have to manage the risks involved. Here are a few to consider:
Security - Cloud service providers have a bigger target on their back because of the value of the data they house on their network. Cyber criminals will always follow the money. If you have moved to the cloud or are considering a move, give us a call to discuss security enhancements for your cloud-based critical data and applications.
Loss of Control - At the end of the day, whatever you have with a cloud service provider is, for a better term, "your stuff." Make sure that you can get "your stuff" back if that relationship sours. In most cases the provider shouldn't have any issues with this but you should always prepare for the worst.
Vendor Risk - Relying on a cloud service provider means that you are vulnerable if the vendor runs info problems. This could include lawsuits, bankruptcy, or regulatory investigations, so make sure you choose a respectable partner that is in good standing!
Downtime - From time-to-time your cloud service may experience an outage which means you would temporarily lose access to anything you have stored on the cloud. Whether the outage was the result of actions/mistakes made by the cloud service provider or simply the loss of internet connection, you should prepare yourself for these types of situations. Hybrid cloud environments can help alleviate this issue.
End User Support - When you have issues with a cloud service is can be problematic getting a hold of one of the big providers via an 1-800 number. Working with an Managed Service Provider or 3rd party technology company could assist in troubleshooting and act as a liaison in these situations.
The cloud is here to stay. If you are new to cloud solutions start small, we recommend a hybrid approach where you can migrate pieces of your IT environment (like email server or a CRM) to the cloud one at a time. As you become more comfortable with the cloud you can make informed decisions on strategies to help grow your business. And remember the experts at Four Winds are here to help and can help you design and implement the perfect cloud solution to meet the demands of your business.
Still not sure if the cloud is right for you? Find out how four real businesses reaped massive benefits by moving away from their on-premise server and migrating to the cloud in this case study from Microsoft! Download your free copy today: