The Cloud is becoming the central force behind most IT projects being implemented. Cloud computing is being talked about constantly and it is important for small and medium sized businesses to understand what it can bring to the table. What many do not realise is that services like Office 365 have enabled smaller businesses to be able to have access to the same technology as major enterprises and government organisations such as Barclays Bank or the Ministry of Defence.
When Cloud projects are implemented correctly small businesses can see great results and if they take full advantage of what it is has to offer they see even more. If you understand what the benefits of making changes to your business’ technology are you will be in a better place to make an informed decision about what is best for you. We have put together a list of just 6 of the advantages of Cloud computing for you to get started with.
What is the Cloud?
Before we do get started, it’s important that you understand what the Cloud is. The term gets bandied around so much that it can often get watered down, over-complicated or confused. The best way to explain the Cloud is as a collection of services that you access via an Internet connection. If we use Office 365 as an example, you no longer use an Exchange server that is on your premises. Instead, you would access a server that you rent from Microsoft via an Internet connection.
You have probably been using the Cloud for a long time without realising it. If you use services like Hotmail or Spotify then these are all Cloud products. You are accessing a service via an Internet connection.
Now that we have established a basic understanding of what the Cloud is we can move on to the advantages of using it.
Let’s face it, for small and medium sized businesses cost and value for money is often key. One of the main advantages where our clients find benefit from the Cloud is through the subscription plans offered. Cloud computing allows businesses to switch their technology investments from capital expenditure to operating expenditure. In the past, businesses have had to sweat assets for several years before making the decision to make a large capital investment in upgrades. Servers end up being unreliable and software begins to become incompatible and slow.
Cloud computing has changed how Finance Directors and IT Managers need to look at their investments in technology. Cloud Services operate on subscription models where you pay a small fee (often per user per month) regularly over time instead of having a massive upfront cost. You also have the added advantage that you always have the latest version of what is available (you may see this advantage again in this list).
Cloud computing is brilliant for making applications more accessible and easy to manage when you have multiple devices. Most Cloud Services will be accessible via a browser so you won’t need to be on a specific network to get what you need. In the case of Office 365, you can access your email and documents both via the browser and dedicated applications that will sync across your devices.
The way we work has changed. Being able to access everything we need removes the barriers that were previously part of our working days. Whether you’re in the office, on the train or at home you can carry on the same with no obstacles. Cloud computing will also make any field based workers much more accessible.
It’s also important to take note that the Cloud doesn’t just remove obstacles. It adds new things to your day too. Instead of everyone always having to be in the office for a meeting, things like Skype for Business give people greater flexibility in how they organise their time.
3. The Right Version
As previously mentioned, using the subscription payment model allows you to always have the most up-to-date versions of your services. For example, if you have invested in Office 365 you will always have the latest version of Office, no matter when your subscription started. If all your applications are the same version across your business it makes so much easier for everyone.
Cloud computing will enable your team to be able to work together in new ways and often much more efficiently. New applications like Planner and Teams in Office 365 or tools like Slack and Trello help to make spaces for your team to work together online. Distance no longer gets in the way of people working together to do great things. In Office 365 you can even work on a document at the same time as a colleague even if you’re 100 miles away from one another.
The tools that have been made available via Cloud computing add the benefit of improved communication in your business. If you’re using services like Office 365 then you will have access to video chat, instant messaging and virtual working tools. With services like WhatsApp and Facebook becoming second nature for our teams outside of work, there needs to be a business equivalent that maintains professionalism while also allowing for modern forms of communication. The great thing about using additional communications tools is that in a lot of cases they bring efficiency. We have all been in a physical meeting that has spilled from one hour into two because of people going off topic. Conducting meetings online tends to stop this from happening and keeps teams focused on the topic at hand.
There’s a myth that the Cloud is not safe or secure. The Cloud can be a lot more secure than having your technology on-premises. Think about the physical security currently protecting your server in your building right now. There might be a locked cabinet, a locked door and maybe some CCTV. If you choose to put your servers in the Cloud through an Infrastructure as a Service option then you will have the benefit of the Cloud provider’s security.
For example, if you chose to use Microsoft Azure as your Cloud then you would have access to Microsoft’s physical security. Microsoft would not just be protecting your small business’ data but the data of all its clients including the Ministry of Defence. There’s 24/7 security guards, biometric access, back-up generators and more. As we mentioned previously, the Cloud brings technology to small businesses that previously was only available to large enterprises. It’s the same with the security being applied to that technology, both physically and virtually.
We have only touched on the basic benefits of using Cloud computing in your small or medium sized business. If you are interested in knowing more or getting started with learning about the Cloud or Office 365 then please do get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 01675 469020.