If you are still considering moving to Cloud Computing solutions for your business but aren't sure of whether to make the move, I've outlined below a summary of why Cloud Computing will benefit your business.
The old way
Running a business has in the past involved the set-up of a server to run software and store data, and then a network connecting users to the server within each branch/location. The server ran separate front and back office software, emails, and any shared documents were stored on the server. This is called Client/Server technology. It may be something you remember, or indeed this may still be what you do?
This solution was complex and costly and meant:
- Sharing data between branches (or people at home or on client sites) was impossible without complex and costly IT solutions. This created problems in accessing/sharing information, and led to rework when transferring data between separate systems and locations - causing errors, admin overheads, and effecting customer service.
- Expensive IT staff and suppliers were needed to set-up and manage the infrastructure. The detail of the technology wasn't something most business owners could hope to understand so they had to reply on 'specialists' to tell them what they had to spend on infrastructure. This could make you feel you were not in control.
- Large licence fees were required by software companies (but you still had to manage the upgrades and back-ups yourself, and pay ongoing 'maintenance' fees). These costs meant using high quality software was not always within a business's reach.
- There were risks to the business to be managed should the server stop working and/or software break. These risks could potentially cripple a business unless costly Disaster Recovery arrangements were in place.
- Management headaches were created with the need to deal with different IT hardware and software suppliers to keep it all running.
The new modern and simple way
‘Cloud Computing’ solutions have now become an established way for businesses, particularly SME’s, to manage their IT solutions. They remove the problems with the old way of running systems on a Client/Server basis and provide additional benefits.
With Cloud Computing solutions the IT systems and services needed by a business are provided through the Internet by specialist suppliers. These suppliers manage all of the complex IT infrastructure for you, as well as your software back-ups, maintenance, and upgrades. All you need to manage is an Internet Connection.... That's it!
There are many reasons I could give as to why every Agency should be moving to Cloud Computing, however my top 5 reasons are:
- Lower your IT costs - low implementation fees for Cloud solutions mean they are accessible to all businesses. You will typically only pay an affordable monthly hosting and support fee per user. This gives predictable costs which are lower than the cost of buying, running, and maintaining a Client/Server infrastructure (and with no unexpected bills).
- Give immediate sharing of data and software services between locations - Access to your business systems is through an Internet browser, giving you access between branches, at home, or on the road wherever you have an Internet connection. As well as improving information sharing, this has the added benefit that new branches can be set-up easily and quickly giving you greater business flexibility.
- Improve the management of risk for your business - You don’t need to worry about what will happen if your server goes down or worry about loosing data. Your business data is stored safely and securely within the specialist facilities of hosting companies. With this security your Disaster Recovery plans are simply knowing where you can move to connect to the Internet if your the worst happened to your offices.
- Reduce your management time on IT issues - With all of your software and data being managed for you, and with only the need to manage your Broadband connection, life becomes more simple.
- Gain access to the latest software and services on the market, but without large costs - All of the latest software developments are ones developed for Cloud Computing. Your software supplier can link into these, or you simply sign-up for new services you need, when you need them.
The benefits are clear and every SME should be looking to adopt a Cloud Strategy for their business if they haven't already done so. See also 'Why the Internet Cloud' for more information.
If you are concerned that the move will be difficult, don't worry. Implementing a simplified IT Infrastructure is also straight forward - but that is a subject for another blog post....