“The cloud” has become a popular buzzword in recent years, even if the average user doesn’t have a clear grasp of what the concept is. This form of storage has become a popular way for people to store their music, movies and other media. For businesses, the cloud presents a way to store data securely online. Cloud computing offers significant benefits over regular storage and makes data available to everyone who needs it while keeping your information secure.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is when entities share a network of remotely accessible servers. The servers are hosted on the internet, allowing businesses to manage data “in the cloud” instead of on a local server. It’s a shared space in which devices in the network can access data from anywhere.
Although cloud computing has only picked up major traction in the last two decades or so, the idea has existed since the 1960s. The noted computer scientist John McCarthy introduced the concept when he envisioned technology that would allow computing to be sold as a utility like electricity or water. He suggested that each subscriber would only need to pay for the capacity they actually used and that some users could offer services to other users.
While McCarthy’s vision looked like a pipe dream at the time, he was describing a phenomenon that’s taken the digital world by storm — Infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Specifically, he was describing the basis of cloud computing. Today, 77 percent of businesses have one or more applications or part of their infrastructure in the cloud. What is the purpose of cloud computing for businesses? To save money and increase efficiency.
What Are the Pros of Cloud Computing?
There’s a reason cloud computing has become so common among companies the world over — it just makes financial sense. The benefits of cloud computing are more varied and powerful than you might realize, so let’s take a deep dive into what this technology can do for you. These are the top 10 reasons to move your business to the cloud.
1. Reduce Infrastructure Costs
In-house data storage costs companies a significant amount of money. There’s the up-front price tag of purchasing each new server as well as the cost of installing them. Either your IT team has to take time out of their busy schedules to perform the installation, or you have to pay the vendor to do it. Then you need to ensure the equipment is maintained properly and backed up regularly.
Even when you invest in the best equipment, something can always go wrong due to human error. If your team is the one responsible for installation and maintenance, and they make a mistake, there’s no one to turn to for support. With cloud computing, the headache associated with maintaining in-house systems disappears as you have the support of your service provider. Because the cost of infrastructure is included in your plan and split among all the service provider’s clients, you save money.
According to the Global Cloud Services Market report, organizations that deploy cloud computing services save more than 35 percent on operating costs each year.
2. Impact to Personnel
Maintaining an in-house IT team big enough to manage local servers can quickly lead to a ballooning budget. The time spent recruiting and the money spent training are all with the hopes that you’re developing a highly effective and dedicated employee — but that’s not always the case. Some employees will underperform, and others may decide to leave the organization. Turnover in the IT field costs companies 150 percent of an employee’s salary.
Your in-house team also comes with the added cost of benefits, which cloud service can help reduce. With your service provider taking care of maintenance and backups, you can refocus your in-house team or avoid the cost of expanding it in the future.
3. Consolidate Your Data
With cloud storage, data is distributed amongst bi-costal data centers. Syncing technology makes it possible to link up and update data quickly, but storing data in the cloud makes syncing unnecessary. When all your data is stored in the cloud, you know exactly where every piece of information is at any given time.
4. Defend Against Disaster
Data loss can spell disaster for a company of any size. Data breaches cost an average of $3.86 million worldwide, and an average of $7.91 million for companies in the United States. Cloud-based storage is much more secure than operating an on-site data center. Organizations that store their data on the premises see 51 percent more security incidents than those that use cloud storage.
The enterprise-level security built into cloud storage services far outpaces what most small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) can afford on-site. One of the advantages of storing data in the cloud is that there isn’t one single point of failure. Your data gets backed up to several servers, so if one of them fails, your organization’s information remains safe and secure.
A single point of failure is what led to the infamous Equifax and Verizon data breaches, and many companies have taken steps to avoid this fatal flaw in storage security. Cloud storage is one way organizations can eliminate this danger.
5. Maximize Uptime
The financial impact of unplanned downtime cannot be understated. For every minute of unplanned downtime due to a data center outage, a company loses $5,600 on average. That’s $300,000 in just one hour. While employees might enjoy the extra time spent in the break room, the productivity lost during that time is money you won’t get back. Unplanned downtime can also heavily damage a company’s reputation if it affects customers.
The leading causes of unplanned downtime are system failure and human error, both of which can be avoided. According to one survey, 61 percent of SMBs experienced fewer instances of downtime and decreased length of the downtime that did occur after they moved to the cloud.
6. Enhance Collaboration
Businesses today are thriving thanks to the ability to collaborate digitally. The benefits of remote work for companies are so compelling that 56 percent of startups outsource some of their work. Employees love it too, with 57 percent of workers in the computers and IT industry doing some of their work from home. Organizations are also more likely than ever to have employees working in all corners of the map, making the ability to collaborate crucial.
Cloud computing allows multiple employees to view and make changes to files and documents in real time, providing a much more efficient way for workers to collaborate on projects. Accessing documents in the cloud helps ensure everyone is working from the correct version of a document and that obsolete versions don’t get passed between local sources.
7. Stay Scalable
One of the challenges of growth is remaining scalable, so how can cloud computing benefit your company when it comes to expansion? This solution allows you to pay only for the amount of storage your business needs. If you find your organization is growing quickly enough to create the need for more storage, you have two options.
You can opt to buy and install more equipment as well as hire the people you’ll need to maintain it. With the planning and training time involved, you can expect to have your increased capacity up and running within a couple of weeks to a month or more.
Or, you could call up your cloud storage services provider and have them increase your capacity in a matter of minutes. Increasing cloud also comes with a predictable cost, eliminating the risk associated with investing in additional storage infrastructure. With a greater ability to increase or decrease your storage capacity as needed, your organization becomes more agile and competitive no matter your industry.
8. Increase Automation
A significant portion of maintaining in-house data storage is performing regular backups. The IT team has to take time to create backups and schedule them around daily operations. Cloud computing services go a long way toward automating these routine backups so your team can get back to doing the work that drives your business forward.
9. Save on Space
Servers and all their associated equipment take up significant square footage, and expanding an in-house system often requires careful planning to secure the right amount of space. Larger ventures may have some excess space to grow into, but small businesses are often fighting to make the most of every square inch. Cloud computing can free up your office for more workspace or amenities while eliminating the need to plan for future equipment expansion. With the cloud, you do not have to worry about the installation of dedicated breakers, high voltage lines, special HVAC systems or even backup generators.
10. Enhance Compliance
The hundreds of regulations that govern different types of data are complex to understand, time-consuming to apply and laborious to maintain. Why not let a cloud storage service provider do the heavy lifting when it comes to compliance? A good provider operates in full compliance with all applicable regulations, so you don’t have to worry about incurring violations.
What Are the Cons of Cloud Computing?
The advantages of storing data in the cloud are hard to ignore, but what are the disadvantages of online storage? These are the top five concerns companies have about transitioning to the cloud.
1. Understanding the Costs
Though the cloud can help reduce costs in some areas, it is important to make sure that when you move to the cloud, it truly makes sense. It is important to put a proper plan in place and look at all systems within the organization. The key is to do an analysis of the systems and group them into two categories. These two categories are systems that should be moved to the cloud and which systems should remain on-premises. Once this is determined, you can set a budget for the initiative.
2. Moving From Cloud to On-Premises
Moving from on-premises servers to cloud data centers is usually an easy process for your organization. Though this is the case, moving to another cloud supplier or back to an on-premises server is not as easy. This process can actually get quite expensive, and the terms can often favor the cloud supplier. Before deciding to enter into a contract with a supplier, make sure to ask the question and understand the process for moving workloads out of the cloud supplier data center. It is critical to cover the timelines, fines, and process.
3. Limited Control
Because the infrastructure of the cloud is owned and managed by the service provider, businesses may worry about not having enough control over the service. This is where the provider’s end-user license agreement (EULA) can help you out. It explains what limits the provider can place on your use of the deployment. All legitimate cloud computing providers allow your organization to exert control over your applications and data, even if it doesn’t allow you to alter the infrastructure in any way.
When a provider presents you with a service level agreement (SLA), it helps to make sure you understand every word of it. This will help you confirm what you can and can’t do with the service.
If your contract includes placing your own equipment in a cloud supplier’s data center (i.e., CoLo), it is important to understand the proximity of the data center to your office. Make sure to get the full list of details on the ability to access the equipment in the event it requires maintenance.
4. Vendor Lock-In
One of the disadvantages of cloud computing can come in the form of vendor mismatches. Organizations might run into complications when migrating services to a different vendor with a different platform. If this process isn’t handled correctly, data can be exposed to unnecessary vulnerabilities. A good cloud services provider has the expertise to migrate your data between vendors safely.
5. Slower Backups and Restores
Because moving data to the cloud involves some significant communication latency, backups can end up taking longer than they would with an in-house system. Even for larger, full backups, this isn’t usually an issue. The longest backups can run in the background without disrupting networks, and the subsequent smaller backups take less time.
If you need to restore a whole server, it might take longer. Individual files and folders, however, probably won’t be impacted. Differences in speed are negligible with the right provider.
6. Internet Reliance
One minor drawback to cloud computing is the fact that it’s completely reliant on the internet. If your internet connection goes down, you won’t have access to data stored in the cloud for the duration of the outage. However, an internet interruption won’t destroy or compromise your data stored in the cloud. Since your business needs the internet to perform nearly every function, cloud computing is really no different than any other web-based tool.
7. Internet Use
If you’re running backups during working hours when people are heavily using the internet, a large backup to the cloud has the potential to increase congestion and reduce your internet performance. This issue primarily affects small businesses without the resources to invest in the highest internet bandwidth and speeds. However, a good provider will work with you to avoid this issue through scheduling or automation.
Cloud Computing FAQ
While cloud computing technology is becoming more prevalent, it can be a complex topic. Here are a few answers to frequently asked questions about cloud computing for further understanding.
How Do Vendors Charge for Cloud Services?
Each cloud service provider charges for cloud services differently. Pricing models can be based on subscription or dynamic usage. Some providers use a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) model where you pay for the cloud services you have used. PAYG allows you to end your service at any time. This model is ideal for cloud vendors because it keeps hardware and operations costs low due to outsourcing.
Is Switching to a Cloud-Based Server Right for My Business?
You can determine if moving to the cloud is the best option for your business by considering the strategic and operational benefits. Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of your current setup and estimate the outcome of a cloud-based server.
Since migrating to the cloud can take several months, plan your timeline accordingly. Understand the type of cloud you’re migrating to and make a plan based on that information. A well-planned migration reduces costs and data errors. The size of your business, the amount of data being migrated and the number of applications being migrated will affect your timeline.
What Do I Need to Consider Before Migrating to the Cloud?
Before your business can move its operations to the cloud, some prerequisites should be met. Follow this checklist before initiating your cloud migration:
- Choose a single-cloud or multi-cloud setup.
- Perform any refactoring that’s necessary.
- Determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your cloud environment.
- Switch your overproduction.
- Establish a migration architect role.
- Prioritize your migration components.
- Create a data migration plan.
- Decide a level of cloud integration.
- Establish performance baselines.
- Review your application resource allocation.
How Do Applications in the Cloud Stay Secure?
The security measures of cloud platforms vary by model. Administrators use public subnets to place the right permissions on global servers. Encryption keeps confidential data secure and helps to avoid a data breach. Cloud vendors keep their environment secure for their customers through network monitoring, threat detection, cybersecurity framework and fraud prevention. Identity and access management (IAM) roles focus on making application programming interface (API) calls and other special privileges.
What Is Virtualization in Cloud Implementation?
A virtualization platform for implementing the cloud separates the back-end and user levels. It deploys models of cloud hosting services like platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). By creating a seamless environment between the levels, virtualization makes cloud implementation simple, efficient and cost-effective.
Manage Data Better With Morefield Communications
The pros and cons of cloud computing lean much more heavily toward benefits than disadvantages. Cloud is a managed service that can help companies of any size save time and improve their bottom line. But not every provider can offer the same level of benefit. Morefield Communications provides IT solutions and services with passion and precision unmatched in the industry. We’re proud to set ourselves apart on three specific levels:
- Experience: Morefield has more than 70 years of experience in communications and information technology. Our extensive history goes beyond experience to expertise.
- Service: We do everything in our power to provide a stellar experience for every customer. Our team leverages expert knowledge to answer all your questions, big and small, and strives to make you feel like you’re part of our extended family.
- Transparency: We believe the best business relationships are built on honesty and forthright communication. You can always expect integrity from Morefield Communications.
If your business is considering the transition to cloud computing or another form of system management, you likely have a lot of questions. Contact Morefield to learn more about the benefits of cloud computing and the services that can fuel your company’s future growth.