In early 2011, when I first moved from teaching at a small rural school in northern middle Tennessee to what is today the largest IT hardware provider in the world, I thought the cloud was one of the logos that popped up on my wife’s iTunes account. Even after starting this new role as a datacenter specialist advising customers on servers, networking equipment, and advanced storage arrays, I still did not understand or even partially embrace the cloud as something that could be relevant to the industry at large. However, as time marches on I have come to realize and embrace the fact that cloud computing is the future of business IT. Thousands of large enterprise businesses already utilize cloud computing in some capacity.
As more and more companies embrace the cloud, I have been asked numerous times ‘why would a small or midsized company want (or need) to migrate to the cloud.’ While most of these customers are nervous about the security risks, worried about increasing cost or complexity, or simply trying to resist change, the question does need to be answered. Instead of relying on additional hardware and software and then the additional IT resources to manage and secure them, organizations can take advantage of the cloud’s flexibility, scalability, security, availability, and reliability.
Some of the top cloud services being used by small and mid-sized business include:
- Web, ecommerce, email, and application hosting
- Backup and recovery services
- Office tools, productivity, collaboration and communication solutions
- Help desk and IT support, including security
- Marketing and customer relationship management (CRM)
- Financial management, such as record keeping and expense management
- Operations and human resources
- Project and product management
By utilizing infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a services (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS), small and mid-size businesses can take advantage of many of the benefits that large enterprise customers enjoy without the hefty price tag. In most instances, for SMBs, moving to the cloud allows not only for significant time savings for existing IT resources, but also compelling cost savings. This allows companies to refocus energy on new opportunities and reinvest the money saved into other initiatives, like helping more customers.
Let’s take a close look at 10 reasons any business (no matter the size) should consider moving to the cloud:
- Evening the playing field
Moving IT to the cloud allows even the smallest customer to compete with larger corporations. The cloud utilizes a pay-as-you go plan which means you only use the resources you consume. This allows you to increase or decrease speed and scale at the push of a button, without having to implement new hardware.
- Ability to work from anywhere
Business today is fully mobile. With cloud access, customers and their teams do not have to be bound to working in one place and on one system. You can easily access any pertinent data from anywhere securely utilizing cloud systems. This means SMBs are free to hire remote workers without having to open a new location.
- Around the clock security
Most SMBs cannot afford to open a secure data center of their own. This means many of their servers (and therefore their data) are kept in closets or under the secretary’s desk. In addition, SMBs cannot often afford high-end firewalls to protect their sensitive data. Both examples provide for a significant security risk. However, moving your IT to the cloud with the right company can increase the amount of security protecting your business data.
- Built-in redundancy
One of the worst things a business can go through is a system failure or data loss. In fact, studies prove 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster. Keeping data in the cloud provides for not only off-site disaster recovery ability, but also the ability to recover in the cloud. For instance, say you have a production virtual machine in the cloud. A shadow IT user at this company deletes a production virtual machine and the associated data with it. Using cloud recovery services, this company’s data is safe and secure at another datacenter. It is fully ready to be restored back to full use.
- Reduced on-premise infrastructure needs
In addition to energy savings from not having to run servers on site, SMBs can also save office space needed to house the hardware. Cloud compute customers can also save valuable man-power resources by cutting down time spent on software updates and general maintenance. IT teams now will have the ability to focus on being proactive, working on projects that matter instead of constantly putting out fires.
- Turn capital expenses into operational expenses
Traditional datacenter hardware and software forces IT teams to budget up to a year before even receiving quotes to plan for future growth. In addition, this route often makes a company invest tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars at one time. With the on-demand compute resources in the cloud, the guesswork is fully removed from an IT budget. Now IT managers can accurately predict exactly what they will spend. With the pay-as-you-go model these expenditures become a monthly operational expense that can be decreased or increased depending on business needs.
- Limiting shadow IT
A major issue with a private on premise cloud is shadow IT. This occurs when a user begins to consume costly datacenter assets without the knowledge or permission of a company’s technology leaders. Virtual machines can consume, compute and store resources for months without being used or recognized by IT. By moving to the cloud, IT can easily manage and maintain which virtual machines have been created and exist within their cloud dashboard.
- Improved collaboration and communication
Cloud services provide the ability for users to easily access information anywhere or anytime. This increases productivity and enables collaboration, allowing teams in different locations to get things done. Being able to easily share and collaborate in real time on files will increase yield. In addition, web conferencing can bring teams closer together for important meetings and bring your customers closer to your team no matter where they physically are.
- Superior compliance monitoring and remediation
HIPAA, DISA, PCI, and SOX compliance are a constant hassle for almost every company that must regularly deal with them. Ensuring your datacenter resources are compliant is very difficult. High-end cloud compute vendors provide for up to the minute cloud compliance scans and remediation steps to ensure you are always fully compliant in the datacenter. In addition, these vendors can often provide a summary of a compliance scan proving to the regulatory groups that you are fully complying with their standards.
- Automatic updates
There is nothing better than automatic software updates. This feature now extends beyond software to hardware when you move your servers off site. The effort to maintain and ensure they are up and running goes out the door as well. Cloud service providers can now automatically update software, hardware, middleware, or any combination of these resources. This frees up more time for your IT staff to ensure your business stays proactive and competitive.
Of course, just like anything else in the IT world there could be even more reasons to move to a cloud based infrastructure. This list is in no way meant to be comprehensive. However, no matter your reason to move to the cloud, Providers like NowCloud can help you get there by providing mobile, agile, and secure cloud-based solutions to solve customer pain points without adding complexity or overhead.
Matt Shouse is a solutions engineer with NowCloud—a better way to cloud. He has been providing IT solutions to solve customer pain points for over 5 years.