Small to large businesses globally are switching to a cloud-based environment, providing a simple and cost-effective network solution with almost limitless data accessibility, storage and scalability. With the increased uptake of business cloud solutions such as Microsoft’s Office 365 and more people working remotely than ever, it’s no surprise that around 69% of businesses use cloud-based applications (British Chamber of Commerce). In the first part of our cloud computing series, we’ll look at what you need to know about the cloud and how it can benefit your business.
What is ‘the cloud’?
Cloud computing allows you to store and access information through the internet, instead of purely on your computer or a server in one location. All data will be accessible from a central web-based hub, which you can manage, so that anyone with an internet connection and the required credentials can gain access to information from anywhere, at any time. As cloud solutions enable real-time syncing to any connected devices, whether a mobile, laptop or desktop, your employees will always be able to view and use up-to-date information. Many businesses are now migrating to cloud-based platforms, because it enables people to work collaboratively on the same project, whether they are in the same location or even overseas.
There are many cloud computing services available for businesses, whether you simply require data storage, or you want to use a specific program for CRM, accounting or remote desktop hosting. Though the cloud users can gain access to all types of files and use the same applications, such as email, as they would in the office. So, if your network is slow, you’d like an effective storage and backup solution for your critical data, or you are having problems with your email, there are many reasons why switching to the cloud can advance your business:
The costs associated with acquiring and maintaining your hardware and software can be high, and they won’t necessarily be long-lasting. However if you source IT services through the cloud, your vendor will be responsible for most of the infrastructure and the software and network management. This is particularly useful for small businesses who would like to reduce their capital expenditure and move to an operational model. Instead of having to commit to large-scale projects, limiting the amount that can be spent on improving the network elsewhere, there’ll be no physical set-up costs and services can be acquired as and when needed.
Improving business continuity
As long as you have internet connection, most cloud platforms are extremely reliable and provide 99.99% uptime. Some applications can even work offline as well. However, in the event of a disaster or if something should go down, you’ll never lose any of your valuable business data as documents, files and information are hosted online. If a fire, flood or outage occurred in your main working location, the cloud would allow for continuity of operations, as employees could carry on working as normal from another location or device providing they have the necessary access permissions.
As said, as long as you have an internet connection, you can receive and send emails, access information or work on projects in applications from anywhere. Team members will also be able to view, edit and manage documents through any device, making for a better connected team and more efficient working engagement. The cloud keeps everyone up to date and in the know.
Although there have been concerns about the security of cloud solutions, the cloud is just as secure as onsite solutions with the proper security measures in place, the business just doesn’t control the physical servers. And unlike the limited space available with a physical on-premises server, you can purchase as much space as you need for storage and archiving through the cloud. This means that you can keep better company records and you won’t have to spend time and resources sorting through information and creating more space.
Opportunities for scalability
As updates for your business software are released, you can easily upgrade without the set up and maintenance issues which could disrupt working efficiency. If you’re a small business with plans to increase your workforce or expand your operations, using cloud-based applications will allow you to simply upgrade or downgrade your plans as and when required. The opportunities for effective scalability provided by cloud computing will futureproof your business moving forward.
In parts 2 and 3 of our Business Cloud Solutions Guide, we’ll be running through how to implement the cloud and how to ensure its security – check back soon for updates! For more information and advice on cloud computing for your business, you can also contact us on 01252 235 235 or email email@example.com.