Contrary to what you may have experienced, ‘The Cloud’ isn’t just a buzzword thrown around by technologically antiquated companies in a desperate attempt to sound all modern and sexy (like ‘Big Data’ and pretty much any word beginning with ‘Cyber’). Rather, cloud technology is something much more tangible, even transformational, with potentially massive benefits for businesses of all sizes. So take my hand, and let me guide you through the forest of confusion, to the oasis of knowledge and empowerment!
Cloud technology is best understood in contrast to the old way of doing things – with on-site servers. These are the big, expensive, noisy and hot boxes which you used to need in order to offer up any sort of shared service – either for employees within the office (e.g. shared file storage), or for the outside world (e.g. to host your company’s website). As well as the purchase cost, you also needed to consider the operating system and server software licences, and the ongoing maintenance and support costs.
For larger businesses with multiple servers, you’d typically need a dedicated ‘server room’ with suitable cooling, as well as dedicated support staff to keep it up and running. For small businesses this wouldn’t be practical, hence the ‘server squeezed under the desk’ and the burden and cost of server and network support. In either case, unless your core business entailed the provision of hosted IT services, all this server admin was a bit of a headache.
Over the past decade, fast and reliable business internet has become the norm, which led to the realisation that servers no longer needed to be located on-site – they could be theoretically be anywhere in the world, and accessed via a secure network connection. Cloud providers were established, with huge banks of servers in dedicated ‘data centres’, who’d handle all the tedious server admin. Businesses could simply use these services on either a subscription or ‘pay per use’ basis.
For small businesses, cloud technology opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Things which were previously infeasible – like offering sophisticated online services that can be simultaneous accessed by thousands of users – are straightforward with the cloud, as it is ‘elastic’ by design i.e. you can procure more cloud storage / processing grunt as and when you need it. It’s also much more reliable than on-site servers due to other exciting techie concepts like ‘redundancy’ and ‘virtualisation’ which effectively mean that you aren’t tied to any particular physical server – so if there’s a hardware problem with your current cloud server, everything will instantly and invisibly move to other hardware, with no disruption for your business or its customers.
For larger businesses, cloud technology lets you simplify your infrastructure and reduce overheads – goodbye to the server room! Or it may be most appropriate to have a ‘hybrid’ setup, where certain capabilities remain on on-site servers and some in the cloud. You could even retain a ‘baseline’ capability in-house and use the cloud to cope with surges in demand e.g. following an appearance on Dragon’s Den!
There are other possibilities too: ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) is one step further removed from thinking about servers, offering direct access to software via the cloud – you may already be using such services as Office 365 (the online bits) or Google Apps.
The above should give you a flavour of the great potential benefits of adopting cloud technology, but may also cause you to break out into a cold sweat at the number of possible ways it could be used. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a trusted expert partner to guide you through the transition, and help you realise the maximum benefits while avoiding the pitfalls.
At Control Esc, we have extensive experience of helping companies of all sizes harness the benefits of The Cloud, so please give us a call on 02071003650 and we’d be super-happy to discuss how we could help you too!
One other nifty thing about us – as part of a cloud migration and network revamp, we can set you up with a wonderful piece of kit called the Cisco Meraki. Think of this as a wireless router on steroids – as well as offering exceptional reliability and security, it offers incredibly sophisticated remote monitoring and diagnostics. This lets us keep a close eye on your network at all times, and remotely diagnose and fix most issues in minutes.