For some businesses the answer to the above may be 'why wouldn't I?' for others it may be 'why would I?' In this blog we try to offer a balanced argument as to the pro's and con's of either and let you decide but, as always, offering you the option to talk to us and discuss in relation to your specific situation.
What exactly is 'the cloud'?
Not to be confused with the white fluffy things, 'the cloud' is the term used to describe cloud computing - the storage and accessing of data and programs over the Internet instead of your own computer's hard drive locally.
Once you understand that, you are immediately better informed to make decisions about your adoption of cloud computing services.
The positives -
Flexibility - to increase or decrease your businesses storage capacity is far easier in the cloud, scalability (and there are definitely economies of scale) allows you to use as much or as little as you need. The agile nature of this means your costs are only relative to your usage.
Information anywhere - think of this as the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection ( and also without an internet connection as your files synchronise offline too); no need for intermittent VPN connections from home to your office server but fully synchronised files for truly collaborative working.
No capital expenditure - hardware costs have increased massively since Brexit but with the cloud, services are subscription-based releasing the pressure on your cash flow that hardware purchasing brings.
Business continuity (disaster recovery) - every business should have a data back up plan, this should cover regular, daily back ups as well as a solution in the event of a data disaster. With the cloud, the options are far less cost-prohibitive. Cloud providers have a far supierior infrastructure and DR / continuity plan that many SMEs could ever dream of having.
Software updates - your cloud provider takes care of any software updates, including security updates, meaning you dont have to.
Security - as your data is stored in the cloud, any lost hardware (laptops, tablets etc) aren't at risk of having their sensitive data accessed, you can still access the data and you can (assuming you have the service) remotely wipe data from laptops and tablets if needed or securely encrypt the date on the device.
Environment - ever conscious of damage to the environment - you only use what you need in the cloud so the energy usage associated with this is less of an impact to the environment than if you have your own, on-premise hardware.
Next generation hardware - with the cloud you have access to enterprise-level technology that your smaller business couldnt justify with on-premise hardware. You are using the same applications as your far larger competitors, for the same cost.
The negatives -
Connectivity issues - if you are in an area of poor internet connectivity, it's fair to say the cloud probably isn't for you in terms of a data back up plan ( but as your online work files synchronise offline too, this may not be a problem) as it relies on a good level of connectivity.
Poor connectivity can have a negative impact on the end user experience, so always ensure that your cloud solution is tailored around your connectivity options.
Dependence on external supplier - this could also been seen as a positive but you may not like the fact that your data is controlled by a 3rd party, you may prefer an on-premise solution that you can actually see, touch and love.
Costs - again, also possibly a positive but, if you take the life of a server at 5 years and compare the cost of this as a capital expenditure and add on the cost of supporting it, it may still cost less than the 5 years worth of subscription services but..see the 'Next generation hardware' point above..
Security - bear in mind that if there is a data breach, your data is accessible on the internet, a scary thought for sure, but, for some businesses with poor on-premise security, cloud can actually improve their current security measures.
On-premise based application - some legacy applications may still need to be on-premise based and have no SaaS (Software as a Service) options available.
Is it for you?
The above seems to come out heavily in favour of cloud services but, every business has different requirements and yours may mean the cloud is right for you, or they may not.
Having all the information and accepting the subscription costs, change in staff working and flexibility that the cloud can bring, could mean the cloud is a great route for you, but, if you've just shelled out on physical hardware solutions and sent your expenditure through the roof, you may want to wait a while - or you could dip your toe in and try a specific cloud service for a starter with your IT services support company.
Whatever your thinking, feel free to talk to one of our specialists for a no-obligation, unbiased opinion of the best for your business by clicking below.