Should Your SME Relocate to the Cloud?
The Cloud defined
What is ‘the Cloud,’ exactly?
In basic terms,‘the Cloud’ is defined as computing over the internet using data management systems, servers, databases, software and networking, where companies use an external server managed by a third party.The well-known, larger cloud services available are Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud and Aliyun.
Companies are increasingly moving much of their business to the Cloud and finding they need the right support to navigate this new landscape. Fortunately, firms like Mustard IT, providers of IT consultancy in London, excel at helping businesses overcome any technological or technical challenge involved in relocating to the Cloud.
There are three types of clouds offered today; public, private, and hybrid.
As expected, public clouds are owned and managed by large companies (often located in Silicon Valley) which provide access to their servers for commercial use. Private clouds are owned and operated by the same (or similar) types of companies, but are used solely for one large company, such as British Airways or VolksWagen. In other words, a business large enough to require tailored solutions. A hybrid cloud, as may be surmised, is a combination of both; currently, hybrid cloud usage stands at about 58 percent of total cloud use. The different cloud types suit certain businesses differently, with SMEs tending to use public cloud services most often.
What cloud computing offers can be broken down into three areas: Software as a service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platforms as a Service (PaaS).
The first, SaaS, offers software which runs on unseen external geographically distant servers.
The second, IaaS, offers such services as external servers for data storage.
The last service, PaaS, offers a complete service for companies to run their business from afar.
In summary, there are three fundamental types of cloud service -public, private and hybrid – and three basic types of services from these clouds: Software as a Service,Infrastructure as a Service, and Platforms as a Service.
However, there’s a great deal of complexity and overlap between the types of service to understand.
The landscape is expected to change even further with open-source clouds entering the market soon. The Cloud has been the arena of ITC world behemoths until recently, but that’s changing with open-source projects entering the field. Additionally, there are other types of cloud services which are altering the possible range of options for businesses; the community cloud, the big data cloud, and the multi-cloud. The community cloud is of special interest to SMEs, as this is where the end-user, i.e. the SME, can potentially have some degree of ownership in the Cloud. A multi-cloud offers the computing services to a specified group of clients and is managed and secure by those clients, with joint ownership and involvement.
The increasingly multifaceted nature of the cloud landscape almost necessitates businesses using an IT consultancy to navigate this changing world!
Advantages of the Cloud
Common benefits for businesses using cloud computing include:
- Staff can access and use certain software on any PC/laptop anywhere in the world; they don’t need to be on the same physical network to access data or software.
- Companies have access to a wide range of software without needing to purchase that software and load it locally.
- Scalability is a major perk of cloud computing; with no on-site work necessary, there’s an option for on-demand scalability.
- Companies only pay for what they use, which is a great benefit to those watching their budgets.
- All data and software is held on (theoretically) state-of-the-art, super-secure servers, which in an ideal world means it’s safer than being stored on in-house hardware.
Disadvantages of the Cloud
When laid bare, a server is just a large computer. And as with all computers and hardware, it’s dependent upon a reliable power source and the environment.Beyond those, security is a central concern.
As such, common disadvantages that come with cloud computing are:
- The Cloud’s server needs a physical environment which isn’t prone to floods, earthquakes, or any other type of natural disaster.
- Simultaneously,having access to a dependable power supply is essential. If a power failure occurs where the Cloud/server is situated, it would have an immediate negative effect on end-users worldwide.
- Security is of utmost importance to companies these days. While the various clouds offer state-of-the-art military-grade cyber security with hyper complex encryption, attempts to infiltrate or bypass security systems are increasingly more advanced, and security is relative to the threat.
- End-users may inadvertently become a potential liability for the company by using the Cloud. It’s a well-known fact human error accounts for a high degree of security compromises;given this, companies must provide thorough training to employees when data or software is located on the Cloud.
A clear progression
The UK government has stipulated all public sector utilities and government departments must use Cloud solutions as a first option. It’s currently obligatory for the national government and becoming so for all other arms of the public administration. The Australian Federal Government, too, has a clear policy for all departments and government utilities.The current, most updated version is called the Secure Cloud Strategy.This is more than traditional outsourcing, more than a strong business voice coming through the government – it is the global direction of all computing. Governments, businesses, NGOs, community groups, and individuals are all turning to cloud computing.It’s now good business sense to do so.
IT consultancy guidance and cloud computing
An uneducated IT user, which is probably most employees to a large degree, may think of the Cloud simply as a server somewhere else, perhaps for the odd storing of a document to be retrieved when required. However, it isn’t that simple. The options for clouds are multiplying, the reasons for use changing, the services offered by the Cloud are expanding, and added to that the push factor from governments and super regional bodies are intensifying.Good IT consultancy is an absolute necessity nowadays for cloud computing.