The average company techie will usually recommend investing in cloud solutions, but business owners will often pull the trigger without knowing what’s truly involved. What are the options available and can they actually help drive the business forward?
Cloud computing is computing based on the Internet, where users can access applications online as opposed to having to download these onto a physical computer or server. Three basic cloud delivery models exist, with companies being able to employ just one model, or a combination of different models.
Private or Internal Cloud:
These types of services are provided exclusively for a business and managed either by the business itself, by a third party, or both. While the environment is similar to that of a traditional data center, the services are provided within the cloud capabilities.
These are owned by an organization selling cloud services and made available to the public. The idea here is that the cost of hosting and infrastructure is shared between many companies, lowering costs for the end user.
These services draw on the benefits of both public and private cloud services, and is the solution that many businesses opt for.
What Are the Options?
Many companies have jumped on the cloud bandwagon, which means consumers have plenty of options. The big players such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google provide excellent solutions, while companies such as Rackspace and Iomart provide dedicated services for hosting requirements.
You can also work with firms that specialize in using a particular company’s platform (such as a Google for Work Partner), which means you can access a personalized (and often local) service while still working with a larger and more robust provider.
The thing to keep in mind, however, is that it all comes down to the service you need. If you’re looking for a CRM and sales provider, for example, Salesforce and Zoho are both solid choices. But if it’s hosting for your ecommerce website, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
What are the Things to Keep in Mind When Making a Decision to Buy a New Solution?
When it comes to cloud solutions, established services are a bit hard to come by. That is why it is important to keep a few things in mind when making your purchasing decisions.
Requirements: As we’ve already touched on, cloud computing is an umbrella that covers many different types of services. The cloud can provide Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS). Find your business requirement first and select a service second.
Adaptability: As a business, it’s important to have the option down the line to add new features that allow you to extend cloud applications. Not just that, but you also want flexibility when it comes to upgrades, so you can quickly adapt to changing business needs.
Security: You should never just assume that a cloud provider has the proper policies and resources in place to secure your data. You want to ensure you are asking vendors the right questions about the level of security they provide.
Integration: Companies these days often require integration among cloud applications, and between on-premises and cloud applications. You should ask your provider if they allow you the option to integrate data with third-party software, and what costs and complexities are involved if so.
Investing in the wrong solution can lead to costly issues for a business. It’s all about choosing a service that matches you needs and requirements, as well as your risk profile and company size.
As a small or medium-sized company, you don’t want to end up on the bottom of the priority list of a mega-corp cloud service provider. Then again, you don’t want to rely on too small a provider, which could risk going out of business or prove unreliable.
The cloud offers several benefits, including:
- No up-front costs: Capital expenditure costs of the past have been drastically reduced or even completely eliminated thanks to cloud software. With these services, you can often just pay a monthly fee, so you are just dealing with a predictable operational expense.
- Access anywhere: Cloud services can be securely accessed anywhere in the world from any device connected to the Internet. This offers increased flexibility, particularly if staff members want to access data when working from home, during a business trip, or on the go.
- Fast implementation: No longer do companies have to wait months, or even years, to get an application up and running. Cloud based-applications cut through all the complexity involved in implementing a new application, many allowing you to sign up and start using it immediately.
- Increased security: Data is stored securely, meaning you don’t have to worry about disastrous data falling into the wrong hands if one of you staff members were to misplace a laptop.
- Maintenance free: Since upgrading, patching and testing applications is all handled in the cloud, it helps to free up your IT staff’s time, giving you more time to work on new projects and innovations.
- Instant scalability: You only pay what you need and can increase or decrease the numbers as you see fit, without ever having to worry about running out of capacity.
To ensure you get the right solution for your business needs, consider the following:
- The scale of your business requirements
- Your budget (take into account all associated costs including maintenance, downtime, upgrade, and internal resources)
- The importance of securing your company data
- The operational benefits for your business
- Your long term requirements
You will need to ensure that your cloud service provider will not only be able to meet your current business needs, but also expected future requirements.