Most businesses were using cloud computing in some form even before the pandemic. But since the shift to working from home, demand for cloud-based offerings has accelerated as the importance of flexibility and agility have been realised. Businesses that haven’t adapted risk being left behind, but what are the benefits and how do you know if it’s the right solution for your organisation?
What is the cloud and how does it work?
‘The cloud’ seems like a very vague term but, put simply, it refers to servers that are accessed via the Internet, rather than on-premise. They do have a physical presence, though – cloud servers are located in data centres all over the world – it just means that companies don’t have to manage physical servers themselves or run applications on their own machines.
There are different types of cloud environments such as private, public, multi-cloud and hybrid, but they all enable users to access files and applications anywhere, from any device, because the computing and storage takes place on servers in a data centre rather than on a specific device.
Why the cloud is becoming more popular
On-premise software, servers, systems and applications can be ideal for some businesses, but they are no longer the only option.
Choosing the ideal on-premise model for the type and size of your business is a big decision to make when you aren’t sure how your needs will change in the future, and there is a significant amount of technical expertise required to install, configure, test and update servers.
Inevitably, all of this comes with a sizeable upfront cost.
Cloud computing eliminates several of the constraints associated with solely on-premise servers. It grows with businesses and provides more flexibility, scalability and peace of mind that it is less vulnerable to disasters and downtime.
Covid-19 has highlighted the benefits of cloud computing, since almost all businesses were forced to work from home. Following this, 90% of enterprises expect cloud usage to exceed prior plans due to the pandemic.
The future of the workplace is likely to be a hybrid of home and office work, so giving employees the ability to make this transition seamlessly will give your business a competitive edge.
Small-to-medium businesses using the cloud grow 26% faster and are 21% more profitable than those who do not.
Benefits of the cloud for SMEs
- Lower costs – cloud solutions require very little hardware and are continuously updated by the service provider, so there’s virtually no maintenance or infrastructure replacement required. Plus, as cloud services are typically based on fixed monthly fees, costs may be lower and easier to predict.
- Collaboration – because files are stored online, they can often be accessed, shared and even updated by various colleagues in real time.
- Unlimited storage – unlike a solely on-premise server, the amount of storage you need can grow with your business and you only pay for what you need.
- Scalability – with little hardware involved, it’s easy to scale up or down according to demand and business growth.
- Mobility – businesses and users can access their systems and data from any location.
- Efficiency – cloud systems are not located onsite and so require less space and lower running costs, yet you still have the option to adapt your services based on your business needs.
Is the cloud secure?
Businesses are increasingly concerned about the risk of cybercrime to their livelihood and data, and rightly so. According to the UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021, four in ten businesses reported a cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months and faced increasing difficulty managing and deploying security measures due to the pandemic.
Whilst cloud computing is not exempt from the cyberthreats faced by traditional systems, it can provide an extra layer of security. Data stored in the cloud is encrypted, which means that it’s much harder for hackers to intercept files from outside your organisation. Updates take place automatically and new security measures are being developed constantly, with significant budgets and expert teams behind them.
If you’re concerned about putting your data in the hands of a third party, data centres are incredibly strict on who can enter their facilities. As a global market worth billions of pounds, data security is a top priority for cloud service providers which is not going to change anytime soon.
Businesses can further enhance the security of data stored in the cloud by using secure passwords and two-factor authentication, as well as backing up data to a remote location in case of data loss, downtime or disaster.
How the cloud can help your business grow
The main factors that contribute to the growth of a business are its strategy, products, market, customer service, operations, partnerships and talent.
Whilst cloud computing cannot replace any of these elements, it can help to enable and improve them. It allows businesses to make the most of their resources, even if limited, and to get off the ground quickly due to low upfront costs.
Many SMEs are taking advantage of the low cost and low complexity of a whole host of cloud applications that improve productivity and result in a decreased need for full-time, in-house staff.
By helping business leaders save time and money on basic operations and services, the cloud frees up more time for them to focus on growing their business. Plus, they don’t need to worry about scaling because the use of ‘virtual’ infrastructure allows for sustainable growth.
Making the switch to the cloud
Air IT is an award-winning managed service provider offering fully managed IT services including IT support, project delivery, cyber security, communications and business intelligence as a service. We can offer advice, consultation, and guidance on which cloud solution is right for you, with full migration to leading cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud.
If you have any queries or would like to start your cloud journey today, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.