Should My Business go to “The Cloud”?
There are thousands of web pages out there that can answer the question, “What is The Cloud?” For our purposes, we can think of The Cloud as a bunch of internet-based computers that allow businesses and individuals to store their data and documents and share them securely with only those with whom they want to share them. Businesses use the cloud as a central repository for their email and documents. Individuals do much the same.
If you use a smartphone or Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox, congratulations! You are already in The Cloud! It’s more a question of, “How much of your digital world is in The Cloud with you?” There are many other cloud services, but Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox are the most popular. These are available for individuals and businesses alike.
Some businesses use a local PC to store shared files; some use one or more servers located in the office somewhere. In the past, many businesses even ran their own email server in-house. It was a cumbersome effort to keep those servers up and running. What the in-house server afforded the business was a secure, central location for email and data and documents. Users could have their own folders on the server and also use shared folders for common files across the company. If there were employees who worked from home or traveled extensively, the company could set up a VPN (virtual private network) that allowed a secure remote access to company computer resources.
While many businesses will keep their in-house servers for a long time, others have already moved to The Cloud or are contemplating such a move now. What are the benefits of a company moving its computer operations to The Cloud?
- If the company has multiple locations, files can be shared via The Cloud; no more expensive VPN connecting the multiple locations.
- If the company has a mobile workforce or employees who work from home, having everything they need available wherever they are has great appeal.
- If the company no longer wants to spend money on buying, configuring, managing, and maintaining servers, The Cloud can reduce all those tasks and expenses.
What are the concerns about moving to The Cloud?
- Can the electronic files and data from the business be compromised in The Cloud? Yes, but they can also be compromised on local servers that are connected to the internet. This kind of hacking requires advanced skills that few hackers possess.
- What happens if the internet connection is very slow or unreliable? It makes sense that if you are going to use The Cloud, then you must be connected to The Cloud and a solid broadband connection is essential. The top cloud providers now allow for offline synchronization. This means that if the connection is interrupted, you can work offline and when your connection is restored, all your changes and changes from others will be synchronized. If the connection is too slow, however, the connected computers at the office or home will spend too much time updating and synchronizing the cloud-based files and it could become counter-productive.
- Most cloud services have monthly fees; are they burdensome? They can be depending on the number of users and the amount of space they are using for the entire company’s email, documents, and data. But the opposite can also be true. A company might see substantial savings when they are no longer managing and maintaining local servers. Some companies experience as much as an 80% decline in fees associated with maintaining servers when moving to The Cloud. Why? Because moving to data and files to The Cloud also means moving server maintenance to people who are world-class experts in server management including security services. There are economies of scale for the cloud providers. That 80% decline can pay for many monthly licenses for cloud services. Think about the cost of buying and configuring a new server; that could pay for many months or even years of monthly cloud fees.
- Will “Big Brother” be able to keep tabs on my business activities? It’s possible but that same Big Brother can already look into your affairs now, if necessary. And we hate to break it to you but most of you are just not that interesting to spend time following and surveilling.
What is involved in cloud migration, that is, what does it take to move all the content and email from local in-house servers to a cloud-based service? It requires careful planning and timing so that impact to the business is minimized. It might involve a new email service provider so you would want to do this over a weekend if possible. It is also useful to do the file copies over the weekend so that user working during the week are not stuck waiting for files to upload or synchronize.
The IT professionals at Landau Consulting can help you determine the value of a cloud migration and then help you plan it and then actually do the migration for you. We will be with you every step of the way. Most of our customers are in New Jersey but we can help you with a cloud migration wherever you are located.
Contact us to discuss your business needs and to learn if a move to The Cloud would benefit your organization.