Five Questions to Help Small Businesses Decide if they’re Ready to Take the Leap
You’ve heard about cloud computing, and may have wondered what is it exactly, and what it can mean for your business. The simple answer is that cloud computing is anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. In fact, you may already perform some of your business functions in the cloud, including website hosting, email applications, Google Apps™, or even Salesforce.com®.
You may have seen references to categories of cloud-based computing such as Software as a Service (Saas) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). SaaS means that software you would normally install on your computer is instead delivered via the Internet. IaaS is where you rent space in a data center and use a provider’s servers instead of buying new hardware to run your business. With all the services available, there is an opportunity to move your entire business to the cloud. However, most small businesses are opting for a hybrid solution with some data or applications in the cloud and some remaining on company premises. Now that you know what cloud computing is and what it can do for small businesses, we have compiled five questions to help
You decide if the cloud is right for you:
1. Do you find it difficult to budget? By turning to the cloud, small companies can achieve a significantly lower total cost of ownership for their IT resources. There is no need to purchase software licenses or expensive servers. Maintenance issues such as downed servers or outdated software, and the costs associated with them, become negligible since your cloud services provider is responsible for maintaining the hardware and software. Add in the cost of physical floor space to house multiple servers, plus the electricity required to run them, and cloud services begin to look rather attractive.
2. Are you struggling to manage your individual computers and network infrastructure? It is not uncommon for a small business to berunning the email, website, file storage, backup, security management, finance, and accounting programs all on one server that is being managed by an overworked IT manager. Compare that situation to an application delivered securely over the Internet, hosted on a server farm with the latest equipment, and managed and maintained around the clock by IT experts. In this case, an unexpected boost in traffic to your website will not slow down your entire network as it might with server-based, on-premise applications. Your provider responds in the moment with potentially higher service levels and functional expertise.
3. Is it difficult for you to keep up with current trends such as mobility, or implement changes to your infrastructure? Because the bulk of hardware, software, security, and maintenance are managed by the cloud services vendor, a cloud-based infrastructure is flexible and responsive, allowing you to leverage new capabilities and implement changes quickly and easily. New software, security updates, or hardware appliances can all be provided to benefit users at a much faster rate than most in- house IT departments could hope to achieve. In the cloud, speedy deployment and swift adoption are the norm.
4. Do you wish you had more time to focus on your business? A cloud computing infrastructure frees your time, allowing you to focus on your core business. With fewer servers to manage and fewer client computers failing, you’ll have time to build competitive strategies that give your company the tools and processes it needs to grow. Many companies think a good IT department is one that’s fixing computers, securing networks, and ensuring the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system is working. However, a great IT department is really one that helps its business strategically use technology to advance the overall company goals.
5. Do you need to protect your company’s digital assets? Cloud computing can provide inherent security to remote employees. In some cases, employees are only accessing data and applications through hosted servers, and no data is stored locally. However, most small businesses are deciding that a hybrid solution is best, where they utilize some data or applications in the cloud and leave some remaining on company premises. Viruses can still wreak havoc on your local computers, and malware and malicious scripts can destroy your network. With these threats in mind, ensure any local data is backed up to protect your infrastructure. Client computers, on-premise servers, overall network, local data, and applications must be secured, encrypted, and protected with complex passwords. Regardless of how mobile users work, in the cloud or on local computers, their devices need to be a part of a backup system so that any locally stored information is protected. Security software to protect against viruses, malware, and unauthorized access must be installed as well. Security is not just about protecting data. It is also about ensuring your own business continuity. Primary and secondary data centers and redundancy plans work to keep your information and applications available and secure.
Cloud computing could be a solution to your problems.
Article provided by Symantec a global leader in providing security, storage, and systems management solutions.