To Cloud or Not to Cloud?

Should you take your business into the cloud?

So Michael, what is cloud computing anyway? First, cloud computing is not new. It has been around since the beginning of the internet. Cloud computing is basically any service that you use on the internet that you do not directly maintain. Your home email is cloud based. You don’t personally maintain any of the physical servers that run your email. You don’t pay for the actual servers themselves. Heck, you don’t even know how they actually work. You just pay for or use the email service that someone else provides. That service has been around since the internet got going.

So, why is it such a big deal then?  Because now technology has allowed many other services to take advantage of the same economies of scale. Namely due to virtualization.  With the advances in virtualization and processing power of CPUs, we can now run more virtual environments on one server than ever before.  Also, security has been refined to allow remote services securely.  With virtual networking structures, called VLANs, we can make certain that your network traffic on the shared server does not interact with someone elses network traffic.  This follows all the way to virtual firewalls.  Also, with encryption technology for all operating systems, you can store your data remotely without having to worry about someone else seeing it.  Perfect for compliance reasons such as PCI, HIPAA, etc.  Now, it actually is a cost benefit for us to use the cloud for other services besides email because you are sharing a server thus only paying for a portion of it not the entire thing.

Ok, why should I use the cloud for my business?  The reasons everyone on the internet will tell you are: Business Agility, Reduced Capital Expense, Scalability, Anywhere Access.  And those are great reasons.  The reasons Computer Specialists LTD will tell you are: Less Hassles and Less Expense.

Alright, so it has less hassles and less expense. How can we really use the cloud?

The answer to that is pretty much anything you do now on premise you can do in the cloud.

We can host your entire environment in the cloud and use less powerful, cheaper devices in your office to access them.

We can run desktop environments to give remote users access without compromising security

We can run your file server in the cloud to take advantage of automatic backups for disaster recovery.

We can run your specialty, line of business software in the cloud to take advantage of up-time.

We have a file sync service (like DropBox) that gives you control of your data instead of your employees.

Your phone system is perfect to run in the cloud.

Backups are excellent for the cloud as it gets your data offsite in case of disaster.

If you have any remote users at all, the cloud makes absolute sense.

There are a few things however, that don’t make sense to do in the cloud. Video or audio editing are not good in the cloud.  Can be done as long as you choose the correct platform and have a really fast internet connection (50M+). But I personally wouldn’t recommend it if it’s your livelihood.  3D rendering falls in here too.  Can be done if the environment is right but I wouldn’t recommend it for a business yet.

When Should we be moving our services to the cloud?

If you have servers in-house running Windows Server 2003 and need to upgrade, which you should absolutely do this year (by July 14, 2015), then now is the perfect time to explore how the cloud can help your business.

If you have workers working remotely or travelling a lot, now is a good time to see what can be done about keeping control of your valuable company data instead of letting your employees control it on their own.

If your business is just starting out, now is a great time to get started in the cloud as it is a month to month service to keep your start up costs low.

If you are a seasonal type business that uses more resources, more employees at certain parts of the year than the norm, then cloud computing may be a good fit so you don’t have to pay for those extra resources all year long.  You can scale up for a few months then scale back down.

Who is using the cloud today?  Lots of businesses are using the cloud.  You probably are right now (your email). If you are using any file sharing services then you are.  I know I certainly use the cloud for about as much as I can:  Email, file sharing, office suite, backups, VoIP, collaboration.  I can get what I need, wherever I am on any device I choose.  That is the biggest reason I got into the cloud.  The cost was just a bonus for my business model.  At Computer Specialists we don’t have an office, we all work from our homes.  The cloud is the only way we have been able to run this way since 2009.

Where can I get more information for running my business in the cloud?  Of course, from Computer Specialists LTD or use your favorite internet search engine.