“…Back in 2012 Business Insider reported that 51% of the people they surveyed believed that ‘bad weather’ affected cloud computing…”
What is cloud computing?
Let’s get back to basics and discuss what modern cloud computing is and what it can do for business.
First of all, it is not a literal cloud in the sky. This may sound silly, but back in 2012 Business Insider reported that 51% of the people they surveyed believed that ‘bad weather’ affected cloud computing. I’d like to think that if the same survey was conducted today the outcome would be very different.
Many of you may be reading this thinking, “Great, I have no idea what cloud computing is and I have never used it before.”
In reality, you are probably already using cloud computing in your everyday life and don’t even know it. If you use a smart phone, you will be using ‘the cloud’ every day. Smart phone companies switched to cloud computing around 4 years ago, allowing users to back up contacts, photos, messaging and more in the cloud. Today these modern conveniences are taken for granted and the idea of not backing up your data is ridiculous.
It is not just your smart phone that is connecting you to the cloud. If you are currently operating Gmail or use DropBox, these are also a cloud services. They hold your email, files and data online. If you’ve just binge-watched your latest television obsession on Netflix then you are connected to the cloud. Yes, you read it right, Netflix functions with the help of the cloud.
With these realisations it is easy to assume the cloud is some sort of top secret technology enigma. However, the cloud is not as mysterious as you may think. Just because you cannot see it does not mean it is not a physical entity. Cloud computing refers to a network of servers located in thousands of data centres around the world. Some of the largest data centres reside on plots up to 1 million square foot! Now that’s a lot of data.
Data centres are owned and operated by a number of different organisations, some of the big players include Apple, Microsoft and Google. Users then sign up to a cloud plan and pay for these companies to store, manage and maintain their files in these data centres.
To put this into context, Gmail stores your emails in a data centre to ensure that you are able to access them anywhere, at any time. When you login to your inbox the internet connects you to the particular server, within this data centre, that is hosting your emails. Your emails appear and you can proceed with using your inbox as normal. So instead of accessing your data from a server in the same room as you, you are accessing the data via the internet from a server likely to be located somewhere in your country. All of this happens effortlessly. This is why it can be hard to recognise that certain every day practises rely on cloud services.
Today, the cloud is so much more than just file storage. Cloud applications now allow for the use of common programs across multiple devices, providing you have access to the internet. Gone are the days where you need to install software in order to access programs such as the Microsoft or Adobe suites. Now, all you need to do is sign up to a plan and login. You will then receive access to familiar applications online and all of your work in progress.
The cloud in a business setting works the same way as smart phone storage but on a much larger scale. It is all about connectivity, security, productivity and scalability. Imagine it like a huge online filing cabinet containing all of your important business files and documents. By combining file and data storage with the use of cloud applications, cloud services have the potential to increase productivity and streamline business practises.
Cloud computing for business gives you the ability to work on-the-go across multiple devices, with the help of easier communication methods and better collaboration options.
The cloud is a platform that allows for you to access your data online – anytime, anywhere and from any device! The cloud isn’t magic. It’s business. It is a simple metaphor for online data and applications. "The cloud" may be a nebulous term (pun intended), but now, it is an everyday part of our lives.
Full Article: What Is Cloud Computing
Key differences between cloud and desktop
Mobility - With cloud solutions, you aren't tied to any one computer or hard drive.
Cost Structure - Subscription based payments vs. large once-off upfront payment.
Upgrades, backups and maintenance - You don’t need to worry a thing. Your software provider takes care of this for you.
Why businesses are afraid to go cloud
- "Everything must be in the cloud"
Depending on the business, a complete move to the cloud is not always the solution. It is important to evaluate each area of your business and identify what is working and what is not working. If certain areas of your business seem to be slowing in productivity and efficiently then a shift of these low performing features to the cloud may be the best option.
- "Cloud migration costs a fortune"
Cloud migration can cost as little $99 per user, depending on what areas of your business you decided to move to the cloud. Cloud computing is all about the long term benefits. Once the move is made, your business has reduced its need for hardware and software maintenance, saving money in the process.
Long term findings have highlighted that 82 percent of businesses reveal they are actually saving money thanks to a cloud move.
- "The cloud is not as secure as other methods"
Security is the number one priority of cloud storage and computing, especially with recent conversation surrounding cyber security becoming an increasingly more prominent talking point in 2016. In the case of many cloud hosting providers, the data that you store is completely controlled by you and your business. Business cloud users will know where the data is and who is accessing it at all times.
- "Migrating into the cloud is more hassle than it is worth"
Depending on the organisation some cleansing and architectural issue management may be required before making the move, particularly if you are currently working on very old servers.The short-term inconvenience should not outweigh the long-term benefits of greater efficiency, cost effectiveness and ultimately a business that is future-proofed no matter what changes the market brings.
- "Cloud technology is still in its early stages of development"
A recent ISACA study revealed that cloud computing is fast approaching maturity. Within the next four years you can expect to see constant innovation at an ever increasing pace and continued refinement which will ensure cloud computing meets the needs of every size and type of business.
Full Article: Top 5 myths of moving your business to "The Cloud"
When should your business move to cloud solutions
"The landscape we have is very different now. People demand to have access to data anytime, anywhere. Mobile is changing the way business and people interact. Data is exponentially growing. And there's security threats everywhere. To enable you to do your job better today, you've to be able to get instant access to information, right? And so that's why moving to the cloud becomes more of a mandate unless you accept that your competitors will outperform you." Macel Legaspi, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
- You find it difficult to control and maintain your on-site hardware
- You hate the hassle, the cost and the time-consuming nature of renewing your office software
- Your business is experiencing rapid growth
- You want to improve your B2B communication
- You are constantly on the go and find it difficult to collaborate with colleagues
Full Article: 5 Signs your Business is ready for a Cloud Solution
Benefits of cloud computing over desktop solutions
- Accessibility – You and your team are able to work on your business anywhere, anytime. Teams have full visibility on their collaborations and are updated in real time, minimising miscommunication and meeting time and making operations more efficient.
- Continuous system improvement - You don't have to worry about wasting time maintaining the system, allowing yourself and your team to focus on your core business.
- Fast Implementation - In most cases, you can sign up and start using immediately.
- Flexibility - Operational agility is the top driver for cloud adoption. Cloud-based services are ideal for businesses with fluctuating demands. Scaling up and scaling down cloud capacity is quick and simple. This allows businesses to only pay for what they use and adapt to changing needs quickly.
- Security - You don't have to worry about spilling water on your laptop anymore. Everything is safe and sound in the cloud so you are free to spill as much water as you like.
Cons for cloud services
- Cost of subscriptions - With these services you will normally be charged a subscription “per entity”. This means if you have five companies you are paying for each entity that is online using the cloud package. Using in-house systems on the other hand, you pay for the software (and if you wanted, support), and this allows you to use it on multiple entities.
- Cost of changing circumstances - You choose a cloud service based on what it provides you today but let’s consider the longer-term ramifications. Two easy examples:
- You sell the business or close down. Whilst you no longer want the service you do however need to retain access to all that information for five years. What are your options – continue to pay for the service for another five years? Or, print all the information out;
- Add an extra angle to this. Say that every hard copy invoice you have paid you destroyed because you attached a scanned copy to the cloud database. Do you pay for another five years membership? Or, do you open every invoice within the system and save it to another location (a very long and time consuming task).
The first steps towards cloud computing
Before looking outside of your business to the different vendors and solutions, first analyse your operations today. Where are your challenges and inefficiencies? Calculate the costs of running your organisation's applications, both from a financial and time resource point of view. Once you have a clear view of your business' shortcomings, look into the various alternative cloud solutions and what the costs of migration are, if there are any. At the end of the day, you need to weigh the costs and benefits to your bottom line. Solutions, whether cloud or desktop, are to allow for you and your team to maximise resources and grow the business as efficiently as possible.
Cloud Solutions Snapshot
- Zen Desk
CloudVikings is an exciting new company that has a clear vision of becoming the default “one-stop-shop” Cloud Services Provider in Australia. CloudVikings removes all current Cloud adoption hurdles and offers customers a single point of entry into the benefits of Cloud-based computing for their business. We have teamed with leading Cloud Services Providers (including Microsoft and Google) to provide a holistic and customer-centric solution.
I am a cloud computing expert and Managing Director of Cloud Made Simple. My team and I aim to make cloud migration a simple and cost effective choice for Australian SMEs. A competitor at heart, I work hard to give my clients winning cloud solution packages for their business. While the field of technology and online services is ever changing, I have enjoyed learning an developing my skills in the technology solutions industry over the past 15 years.
Serial Entrepreneur with 20 years of building successful annuity based IT professional services businesses. His goal has always been for these businesses to deliver unmatched service levels, customer value and trust. He has started, run and sold a number of successful businesses. These business range from 80 to 2000 staff with turnovers of $10mil to $400mil. Most recently Andrew has got involved with ITonCloud, a Cloud and Hosted Desktop provider. ITonCloud is proudly Australian.
Businesses Who Can Help You
The Amazon Web Services User Group (Australia) is a group dedicated to cloud services provided by Amazon. Because we are specific to Amazon Web Services (AWS), we can go deep into some of the technical services provided by AWS and get some really great insights into how their services work.
If you want to put your application in the cloud and have already chosen AWS, or if you already have applications in the AWS cloud, then this is a great group to get helpful insights and advice from other group members.
- Next Event: Wed 30 March
IoT Slam® 2016 Second International Internet of Things Conference
The aim is to accelerate the adoption of IoT by bringing together leading practitioners and authorities, to share their experiences and best practices in developing, launching and operating IoT devices, networks and applications and to discuss solutions to critical challenges.
- Next Event: 28 April (Virtual Event)
Salesforce World Tour
See what you can achieve with the world’s number one customer engagement solution. You’ll also hear from industry thought-leaders and inspiring Salesforce customers on how they’re attracting more customers today – and what they think will be the key to innovation tomorrow.
- Next Event: Tues 12 April
Why is Xero Dramatically Changing the Bookkeeping World of Small Businesses
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