Storing data and using on-premise software and applications is becoming a thing of the past as business transition further into the digital world. This transition is largely due to the growing presence of the cloud, which has catalyzed the growing development and use of business-related web-enabled devices and applications. Cloud computing is essentially the delivery of computing services over the internet. Cloud computing is offered through a cloud service provider that stores, manages, and operates data through the internet as a service. To put it simply, the cloud allows businesses to operate in the form of a digital office by having access to data and business applications anywhere and at any time.
There are different types of cloud service providers and services offered through these providers. There are public, private, and hybrid service providers. A public cloud is owned and operated by a 3rd party service provider, including all hardware and software. Examples of public clouds include Amazon (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. A private cloud is one that is exclusively used by a single business or organization and operated on a private network. Infrastructure for a private cloud can either be owned and operated by that business or contracted out to a 3rd party for management. A private cloud allows certain organizations under strict data protection regulations like healthcare and banking organizations to have greater control over security measures and practices. A hybrid cloud combines both a public and private cloud by allowing data and applications to be shared between a private and public cloud.
Cloud service providers offer a range of specific services to customers including servers, data storage, applications, software, analytics, and intelligence. Different types of specific cloud services include infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), Serverless, and software as a service (SaaS). IaaS allows customers to essentially rent infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go basis, including servers, virtual machines, storage, and networks. PaaS is a cloud service that is helpful for app developers due to the capabilities it provides for developing, testing, delivering, and managing applications. Serverless service refers to when the cloud service provider operates server installment and management. SaaS is typically a subscription-based cloud service that supplies software applications over the internet.
For businesses that are not yet utilizing the cloud, the decision process to start using cloud services can be a daunting process. To aide in this decision process, we have compiled an extensive list of pros and cons for utilizing the cloud for various business computing processes.
Cloud services are profitable simply because they have the potential of making a business more efficient, and that includes cost efficiency as well. Cloud services provide businesses with the opportunity to utilize hardware and software on the cloud. This relieves businesses of the cost and resources that are necessary in maintaining on-premise hardware and software. The major benefit in terms of cost efficiency that the cloud provides for business is the ability to pay-as-you go instead of the usual upfront capital needed to purchase and setup and maintain on-premise hardware, such as servers. Operation cost savings go as far as not having to pay for electricity for on-premise software and not having the worry of hardware repair and replacement.
Safety & Security
One concern that many business executives and owners have for switching to cloud-based services is regarded to the safety and security of data that is on the cloud. This is a specific concern for executives in a tightly regulated industry such as healthcare or banking. While putting critical data onto the cloud can seem risky, the main job of a cloud service provider is to maintain the safety and security of their consumer’s data. Using a trusted cloud service provider is crucial if data security is a concern. A trusted cloud service provider will monitor equipment, ensure that the data center is heavily secured, will have detailed and strict policies and procedures, and will have experienced staff to maintain infrastructure. Many service providers will also backup data to additional servers to ensure that your data remains safe and secure if an unexpected event were to occur.
Cloud services allow data to be accessible from anywhere at any time. The safety measures taken to secure your data will also ensure that this data is within your business’ reach, and only your business, at all times. Hardware and software level redundancy protect from loss of data.
If an unexpected event were to occur, such as a natural disaster, disaster recovery procedures are handled by the cloud service provider. This relieves businesses of the stress of keeping data secure and protected to maintain business continuity. Having data safe and secure with the cloud reduces any downtime or loss of productivity that could occur in the face of a disaster if hardware and software were to be maintained on-premise.
One of the handy things that using the cloud offers to businesses is automatic software updates. Along with automatic updates being handled by a 3rd party, utilizing the cloud provides greater opportunities for task automation with web-enabled applications.
The cloud makes data storage easy and at massive scale, if needed. Most cloud services providers provide storage, multiple backups, and procedures for recovering data.
Many cloud service providers offer specific services for analyzing data. These services allow all types and sizes of businesses to have access to high level analytical software. Analytics driven by machine learning and artificial intelligence can put your business ahead of competition with pristine insights for informed, actionable business decisions.
Ease of Use
The 24/7 availability of the cloud allows employees to access and control documents from anywhere at any time; accessing data can be as easy as logging in to a webpage. Executives are also able to easily control business data by limiting authorization to certain users. Along with ease of access, the cloud allows numerous avenues for business integration, including CRM, POS applications, project management, social media, communication applications, and email and marketing applications. Not to mention that starting cloud services is simple and painless to implement for any size business or organization.
Cloud services provide flexibility to business executives and employees, especially in the IT department. With implementing cloud services, IT can direct their focus on problem solving and innovation instead of using headspace, time, and money toward developing and maintaining IT hardware and software.
The reliability, ease of use, and flexibility of cloud allow for collaboration in real-time. Real-time collaboration means you don’t have to worry about 3 different versions of the same document floating around in your email box. Easy collaboration saves time and resources.
When IT professionals no longer have to direct their attention to setting up and maintaining on-premise hardware, their focus can then be directed toward profitable innovation. The cloud allows for faster innovation with accessible resources that provide for easy creation of new apps and services.
One of the greatest features of the cloud is its scalability for businesses. The pay-as-you go (and need) structure of cloud services assists businesses in using only the amount of storage and services that they need for any given time. If your business grows, so can your cloud usage, but if scaling back on hardware or software is necessary, the cloud makes that possible as well.
Cloud usage for business processes reduces the carbon footprint created by your company. Cloud computing allows for the reduction or complete elimination of on-premise data centers, which essentially means less resources are used to maintain data. Also, the ability to collaborate and share files over the internet reduces the need for printouts, saving money on resources and the planet.
Increase Efficiency, Productivity & Performance
Overall, the cloud has the potential for businesses to run and function more efficiently, be more productive, and improve performance. Cloud usage provides opportunities for energy, money, and other resources to be directed toward business objectives with data being at hand and on demand wherever and whenever.
There are numerous concerns for customers that have not yet used cloud services. Some of the potential cons of the cloud are as follows:
- 3rd party cloud servers could have access to critical data
- Business operations on the cloud are limited by internet speed, connection, and reliability
- Internet outages can affect business operations as access to data is solely dependent on internet connection
- Data is stored at an off-site location
- Cloud service providers may not be adherent to compliance regulations like HIPAA
- Data on the cloud could be at a greater vulnerability to cyber attacks
- The cloud may not be best for all high performing software and applications
As the cloud continues to further change the digital landscape, businesses must make critical business decisions on how to best store and manage data. The growing amount of data available to businesses has created the need for cloud providers and the services that they offer to store and mine large quantities of data. There are numerous pros and cons for business leaders to consider in deciding whether to use cloud services for data management. As web-enabled services continue to increase, as well as the demand for greater convenience, the cloud will continue to crowd the business world as a realistic and competitive option for data management for many businesses.
If you are considering using the cloud for your business operations, we’d love to hear from you! The cloud can appear as a mysterious giant, which can make the decision process in using cloud services a bit overwhelming. Spectrum IT Solutions is here to help you and your business operate your IT related functions in the most seamless way possible. Contact us today if you would like more information on the cloud or if you would like to find out ways that your business or organization could potentially benefit by using cloud-based services.