The rise of cloud computing over the past 10 years, has seen an exponential growth in organisations using cloud based services. You may even be using cloud services and you don’t really realise!
The Oxford dictionary defines cloud computing as “the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.”
In real terms, virtually any service can be a cloud service, so things like your Office software, Phone Systems, CRM System (Customer Relationship Managment, Password Management & File Storage are all examples of Cloud Services.
This is not an exhaustive list and even things like anti-virus solutions, print management and other traditionally locally based services are now moving to the cloud.
The traditional set up for middle to large organisations 10 years ago, would have been to have had large physical servers based in rooms in a local building with all of the organisation’s data stored on that server, potentially being backed up to tape or disk with local Office and anti-virus software installed on each machine. This traditional view is swiftly becoming something of the past, and the modern organisation typically may not have any physical server and all of it’s data is now hosted in the cloud, alongside it’s anti-virus management.
This article is not here to compel you to move all of your services to the cloud but is here to point out some of the benefits and pitfalls.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
- No reliance on locally based hardware – maintenance of systems to be provided by supplier
- Benefit of the very best hardware and software
- Always updated.
- Accessible anywhere with any device
- Centralised data security
- Highly scalable
Potential Pitfalls of Cloud Computing
- Can only access information with a working internet connection
- Cloud services often come with subscription based models which can look expensive over a number of years.
- Centralised data security means you need to trust and be sure of your supplier. Can you trust the provider with your data?
Some organisations may have only just started their journey onto the cloud and some may be almost totally there, but however far you are, I think it’s important to think about these pros and cons when you are looking to make changes. It’s important to know, by moving to the cloud, what you are potentially losing, what you are potentially gaining alongside any calculations around cost. It’s also vital to factor in support and maintenance time in whatever calculations are doing. At a simple level, moving to the cloud may look an expensive option over 5 years but when you factor in maintenance and support time, the solution may look very different!
Whilst this is perhaps less of a factor as it was 5 years ago, also bear in mind the quality of your broadband connection. Inevitably with any cloud service, it is imperative you have a stable and ideally, reasonably fast Internet connection. If you don’t, then you may need to re-visit this before even considering moving to the cloud.
I think there is an inherit scepticism and indeed fear of moving data and services into something that is perhaps not tangible or physical, but once you find that trusted partner, and one that can demonstrate their data security principles, there are very good reasons to put these fears behind you and take the great leap! Just remember however, inaction doesn’t help anybody. A cloud service may not be the answer to everything but if, for example, you have a anging server which no longer receives Microsoft security updates and is difficult to maintain, a fear of moving to the cloud is not a good reason to not do anything about that issue. It’s important, that with any locally based systems, that these are properly updated and maintained and if they are not, then outsource that to someone else who can do that via a cloud based solution or replace that server with a like for like replacement.
Examples of things you could do
- Move your existing phone infrastructure to the cloud. No need for expensive phone systems that are difficult to maintain.
- Do you have an access database or excel spreadsheet to manage your contact lists and interactions? Move this to the cloud via a CRM system
- Is your data stored on a server or shared PC? Move to a cloud service such as Office 365/Sharepoint where it’s available over the Internet
- How are your passwords stored currently? Are they on spreadsheet or even worse, in a physcial document somewhere? Move this to the cloud using one of the main cloud based password managers.
Here at IT Services at CAS Ltd, we have specialisms and experience in a few of these areas so if you are looking for a CRM system to do your database management, looking for assistance in migrating all of your file and email data to Office 365 or want advice on password management or other cloud systems then please get in touch with us by emailing me at email@example.com or calling me at 01473 345321.