Nothing is ever a certainty in the workplace, anything could happen that may lead you to change your entire approach to the way you do things. Unfortunately, change has been all too common over recent months and years, with the pandemic causing workplaces across the globe to change some of their most vital and long-standing business functions just to survive.
It is lucky that business owners thrive when solving problems, and many rapidly found alternative ways of producing close to the output that they were able to achieve previously, and have survived the worst. By some margin the most popular method of survival was the Cloud – for those unfamiliar, it allows your employees to continue working as normal from anywhere with an internet connection. Bear in mind, though, that the Cloud hasn’t just dropped out of thin air in our hour of need, but has been gradually growing in popularity, as has remote working – it just took something as drastic as the pandemic to force our hand and take the plunge all at once rather than testing the waters first.
The Cloud is an IT component that is based offsite and is only used on an access basis. It involves you paying for a service as opposed to paying for the infrastructure behind it as well, meaning you don’t have to manage it either – leaving you time to do other things that actually effect the bottom line of your business. All this makes it a much more popular choice than the original alternative.
All around the world the Cloud is rapidly becoming the most popular option. But, on the other hand, for some their on-premise IT infrastructure is integral to keeping the business running, and for others a hybrid of the two may be best. Every business is unique and has its own requirements as to what IT solution would be most effective for them. One reason for alternatives being needed is the fact that some businesses need a stable internet connection 100% of the time, and that is simply impossible with Cloud computing.
Therefore, you need to make a decision based on what is best for your organization, not just pick the most popular option.
It can be very difficult to decide on what is best for you, your team, and the organization as a whole. In the following two articles we will highlight the positives and negatives of both the Cloud and on-premise IT and hopefully guide you to make the decision that will be best for your business.
The Cloud – The positives
The Cloud gives you a level of confidence in the safety of your data that is simply not achievable with on-premise IT. On-premise IT can be impacted by a variety of threats, or even failure, and without a backup your data is lost forever. The Cloud is safe, but it is recommended that you have copies of your data hosted elsewhere as well – you can never have too many copies safely stored in different locations because the more you have the further your business continuity is preserved.
The Cloud offers levels of collaboration that we couldn’t have dreamt of just a few years ago. It allows you to communicate and share from anywhere on the planet with an internet connection. On your yacht in the Mediterranean and have an internet connection? No problem, you can still work as normal, and no one need know you are there! The levels of collaboration the Cloud offers are revolutionary, allowing your team to work on a document simultaneously from different locations (for example, one of your team is in Spain on their balcony and the other is halfway around the world in Japan, but both can access and alter the document simultaneously in real time with no effect to the service). Not only can work be taken anywhere with you but you can work with your colleagues from anywhere too.
Most Cloud providers offer flexibility as one of the features of the resources they provide. This means that you can scale as and when you need to. The pandemic has made it quite apparent that anything can happen overnight, when some businesses went from a fully functioning office with 40 plus team members working side by side to an office of 10 within a day. Now work seems to be approaching a certain level of normality, those other 30 could be coming back, and, depending on the business success during the pandemic, may possibly grow further. Whatever the outcome, ensuring you can meet the demands of your business easily is essential. The ability to scale overnight keeps things affordable and guarantees that the tools you are using are not only cost-effective but also as efficient as they can be.
As we have already mentioned, the Cloud makes it possible for you to get instant access to your data again quickly in the wake of a crisis – along with your other backup options, there is no reason why it can’t be business as usual in no time.
The cost of managing and maintaining your own IT systems can be truly extortionate – the Cloud removes this expenditure completely. With most Cloud providers all of your system upgrades, new hardware, and software – all things that with traditional IT will involve additional costs – are included in your pre agreed monthly payments (therefore saving you from any surprise costs). However, with traditional IT not only do you have to pay for any upgrades on top of your original plan but you also have to be alert to when they are needed – for the less IT literate this can be a near impossibility and end up becoming very time consuming. The Cloud can save you money elsewhere too (for example, you will likely no longer have need for the team of IT professionals that were managing your traditional systems as your Cloud provider do that as part of your service).
However, for all of its brilliant features and operational abilities, the Cloud is by no means perfect. Let’s explore some of those imperfections now.
The Cloud – the negatives
Internet connection dependency
The biggest concern for business owners when considering an implementation of the Cloud is its need for an uninterrupted, constant internet connection. Due to being on the Cloud you are unlikely to have a lot, if any, data stored locally, meaning that your organization is entirely reliant on a stable internet connection to allow you and your team to access the all-important data and services that are hosted there which is the precious data and services that make up your business. The potentially huge downtime could be disastrous for some businesses should there be a drop in the internet connection.
The loss of control
As we all know, business owners like to be in control – after all, it is your business. When on the Cloud you are placing untold trust in your provider to handle your data, and not just handle it but handle it lawfully according to your compliance obligations. It is highly recommended – should you go with the Cloud – that you know where their data centres are and if they are secure both physically and online, as your regulatory obligations may require you to complete due diligence on your provider.
Should there be an issue you will have to trust them to handle it correctly. Being powerless can be difficult but you will have no choice, as you will be completely reliant on the capabilities and haste of your hosted provider’s technical support team. A lot of providers don’t run 24/7 services either so if your business requires assistance at 2am on a Saturday morning, you are going to be waiting until Monday for help – you must shop around and find one that suits your hours of operation.
Do the positives outweigh the negatives?
In our opinion the answer is a clear YES.
There are negatives and positive attributes to everything, but when it comes to the Cloud the positives clearly outweigh the negatives – if you can be certain that you have completed the migration correctly then the negatives almost slip away.
Research is key! Do as much as you can on potential providers, find out how they are going to cater a plan to ease your concerns about; continuity plans and risk mapping, the level of support you will receive to help you navigate the threats, and what the future of your IT landscape looks like.
As previously mentioned, one of the hardest things to get your head around is the lack of control, which is understandably a major concern for a lot of business owners. To reassure yourself, take some time to talk to representatives of potential providers and make sure they address any concerns you have. The right provider will walk you through the details step by step and highlight the cyber security measures they have in place to protect your data at all times when it is in their control.
Not all providers are the same. Yes, the impression is sometimes that none of them care about your business individually, and yours is just one of many on a list of clients that they look after but don’t really care about. But not all providers are like that. Take time to shop around and find one that provides the services and effort that meets your requirements – check their quality of service is right for what you are trying to achieve.
Now you know the positives and negatives of the Cloud, in the following article we will explore traditional on-premise IT, the positives and negatives, and whether it is right for your organization.
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