The Benefits of the Cloud
In this series of looking at the cloud as a whole, across technology, we move to part two of the series.
What advantages can moving your IT to the cloud offer your business over traditional in-house managed set-ups? There are as you might expect, quite a few. Some are obvious and others less so, but undoubtedly there will be benefits that suit your business.
The first part of talking about the benefits is to split them in to two categories; business benefits and technical benefits.
The business benefits are as the name suggests, benefits that can be directly linked to the business. Whereas the technical benefits are linked specifically to the technological advantages that can be gained. They might not be seen immediately as instant cost savers, but they are certainly tangible to the business.
The immediate impact of moving to the cloud can be the shift of payment from CapEx to OpEx. Knowing how much money is going out per month helps companies to create better annual budgets, and keep money in the bank for longer due to the lower initial investment.
Technology is expensive, and requires updating on a regular basis. Most suppliers and vendors suggest a refresh of both hardware and operating software on a rolling 3-5 year basis. By moving to an OpEx funding model, costs can be allocated in advance.
As benefits to work forces, moving to the cloud can open up a whole host of flexibility and accessibility. Today companies are both starting to recruit talent from a global pool rather than local, as well as be more flexible to the location and hours that their employees are expected to work. Using cloud services and cloud storage allows employees to connect, work, collaborate and store files and documents from any web enabled device, from any location.
Employees can connect using smartphones and tablets whilst on the go, via apps such as Dropbox, Microsoft Office 365 or Photoshop, to complete tasks that used to be only be completed in offices. The cloud has let us move on from carrying USB sticks and connecting via VPN’s.
Companies in the UK such as Virgin allow their head office employees to take as much holiday as they require, knowing that they might prefer to work in traditional out of hours times and from locations other than the office. The concept was started by Netflix in the US as a way of letting people work in a way that suits them and it seems to be monitored by a number of other companies to see how well it works.
Going one step further, technology such as video conferencing allows employees to hold face to face meetings from any location to ensure that productivity, efficiency and camaraderie are all maintained. It also allows offices to consider strategies such as hot-desking, which can reduce the amount of office space required.
Most importantly however is that putting services in the cloud can allow the desired flexibility that many employees are looking for today, particularly the younger millennial generation, who see working and being social equally as important. In the battle to recruit the best talent available, having the option to let people who work with different styles work the way they want to might just give your company an extra edge.
Finally on the business benefits side, the option to have less in-house specialists when moving to the cloud is usually a big advantage. Specialists in technology can be expensive to employ, and constantly need training to keep up with latest products and updates. By moving services to the cloud a company will pass that challenge to the service provider, and normally have SLA’s in place to ensure a fit for purpose service is delivered.
The biggest technical benefit, and perhaps the one that puts fear into most companies when talking about moving to the cloud, is security. Will my data be safe? What protocols are in place to protect it? It is probably a fact however that the physical and logistical security of cloud providers is actually better and more enforced than in most companies. Think about it. Cloud service providers must have security SLA’s and audits in place in order that their business is successful. They will have had to pass certain protocols such as ISO 27001, where many businesses will not.
Of course, there is also the option to deploy on-premise cloud solutions or hybrid solutions dependent on each companies requirements. In this way, any sensitive data can be left behind your own firewall. We will be talking more on the types of cloud in the next article.
Cloud based technology such as Microsoft Office 365, is generally sold on a licence basis. This is great news for companies as they can switch on and off licences as they grow, or as they require different packages. This is a much more advantageous option than having to buy everything upfront based on predictions of growth.
What a business gains from using the cloud, is the technical expertise and knowledge of the service provider. Areas such as BYOD and flexible working have become more than buzz words over the last couple of years, and have left many companies wondering whether they should be deploying such strategies. Companies such as Videocall can provide expertise and advice in these areas, and help carry out due diligence to see whether they are suitable or not.
The service provider can also remotely apply required updates and security patches for any cloud based IT service, negating the need for in-house personnel to be required.
As a whole package, the cloud can offer every business a host of advantages that can help them improve their IT so that it facilitates improved efficiency and productivity within the company. Companies such as Videocall have a vast amount of experience within cloud based technology around video conferencing, and as such can help to set up the perfect cloud balance. Later in this series we will be specifically looking at video conferencing in the cloud and the benefits that it brings. You can read the next article in the series about Private, Public or Hybrid cloud here
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