1 March 2016

How to decide if the Cloud is right for your business

So you’ve heard about “the Cloud” but what is it exactly and can it be useful for your business. Let’s take a look.

Most generally, the Cloud is a term that refers to servers, usually within a large data centre, that businesses access via the internet. These servers can be used to do all of the work of your current servers do. So instead of having servers in your office you “rent” space on servers hosted by Cloud providers, like Microsoft, Amazon and Google. Some of the features of the Cloud include:

  • Getting exactly the amount of space you need – no more, no less – instantly
  • The Cloud provider manages all the resources behind the scenes for you – you don’t have to worry about it
  • The Cloud service can scale up and down very rapidly to meet your needs
  • You only pay for what you use

A helpful example for understanding the Cloud is the decision to rent a car. When you go on vacation you wouldn’t think of buying a car to get around. It’s a huge upfront cost and you only need the car for a week or two. Instead, you rent a car that fits your needs. It’s the rental company’s responsibility to do maintenance, like oil changes and repairs and you only pay for the distance you drive and the time you need it.
 

Benefits of the Cloud

 

Scalability

A significant benefit of the Cloud is scalability. If your business grows and needs more storage space or faster performance, you can easily get more via the Cloud rather than having to buy an in-house server. The Cloud also allows you to scale down during slower periods (e.g., remove users or use less storage space), saving your business money.

 

Accessibility

Because files are in a central location that are accessible via the internet you can access files from any device in any place at any time. This ease of access makes it easier for small-business leaders to manage their work at any time of day from anywhere. Also, if there are multiple offices everyone can connect to the same data seamlessly.

 

Cost savings

One of the obvious benefits of moving to the Cloud is that it can provide small businesses with significant cost savings. The Cloud can help you save money on things like server maintenance, software licensing and upgrading expenses. In fact, nearly 50% of small business moving to the Cloud do so to lower costs.[1]

 

Disaster Recovery

A great benefit of the Cloud is its use as a backup server. Have you ever wondered what would happen to your business if all of your files and data were lost due to fire, theft or flood? Backups kept at the office would be useless if destroyed or stolen. Backups in the Cloud can be much safer. So if the unexpected happens, you can be back up and running with minimal interruption to your business.
 

Things to consider before moving to the Cloud

For many businesses it makes sense to move to the Cloud, but there are situations where it doesn’t. For example, if your current servers don’t need to be upgraded, it may not make sense to move to the Cloud right now. There also needs to be consideration of any laws that govern how you must keep your data; does it need to be kept in Canada and how secure is your current setup? How fast is your Internet and can you expect reliable performance? Additionally, business leaders will want to compare the costs – both operational expenditures and capital expenditures.

The decision to move to the Cloud is a significant one and will affect how your business operates day to day. You’ll want to partner with someone who can understand what benefits your looking for and help you honestly evaluate if moving to the Cloud will help you achieve your business goals.

[1] Microsoft U.S. SMB Cloud Computing Research Summary, Fall 2010