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  • Transition to the Cloud

  • Are you thinking about a transition to the cloud?

    Building and running a successful business is hard work. As a business leader, you are responsible for the direction and successful operation of the business units within your organization. You must think creatively and innovate new ways to for your company to create and sustain business value. Doing this successfully, will require a careful watch over organizational data and metrics that are often only available from your internal business systems such as accounting systems, HR and payroll, inventory, etc.

    It is therefore natural that you would want to keep a very close watch over the information stored in your critical technology systems and servers.

    The primary concern with operating and maintaining these internal systems and databases is that it costs your organization a great deal of time and resources. If you take a step back and think about all of the associated costs involved in keeping these servers running, the costs add up very quickly. You need an IT expert to provide adequate technical support, you need proper backup systems in place along with ongoing testing and maintenance of the backup process. You will also need space allocation for the hardware and support staff, proper ventilation and much more. What's more, these servers don't live forever. In fact, the typical lifespan of the average server is only 3-5 years and if they have hardware problems or unforeseen issues, costs can become that much more unpredictable.

    The "cloud" buzzword has been around for several years now, but how much do you really know about the ins and outs of cloud computing? Simply stated, the cloud is really just a method of storing and accessing data and applications over the Internet instead of your computer or server's hard drive.

    So what are the primary advantages of cloud computing?

    • Manage your costs more effectively by using only what you need and reducing IT costs.
    • Run exactly what your infrastructure needs at any given time.
    • Adapt the technologies to your growing demand, as opposed to an on-premises server that is constantly running.
    • Save money on maintenance time, air conditioning costs, electrical bills and staff time or salaries.
    • Take advantage of ongoing hardware and software upgrades that are typically free.
    • Rest easy, knowing that systems will be much more reliable and redundant that can be done yourself, in-house.

    Cloud computing defined

    So how does all of this cloud computing actually work and how do you make the transition? Here's a simple example. Instead of buying servers to install and maintain internally or renting space for servers somewhere off-site, you instead rent a set of resources from a virtual pool to create your own server. You can then install your own applications and access them via the Internet as if they are running directly from your physical building. To the end-user, there is no noticeable difference. There are many services out there which provide this type of service. Most noteably, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft Azure to name just a couple. These public cloud services allow you to store, operate, and maintain your servers from the safety and security of their infrastructure. This service is typically referred to as Infrastructure-as-a-Service, or IaaS.

    Again, one of the primary benefits of this type of service is that you are able to pay for only what you need and only when you need it. You can scale up or down nearly instantly and keep your costs predictable and services reliable. This removes the hardware layer from the internal business and eases the burden on your IT department, allowing them to focus on other priorities without the need to deal with hardware-related issues.

    Hybrid cloud could be easier

    If you're like most small businesses, you already have some kind of infrastructure set up. If this is the case, you might be interested in what is called a hybrid cloud solution. When you move to a hybrid cloud solution, it really becomes a question of which part of the business you want to keep on-premises and which part you are comfortable sending to the cloud. Healthcare providers for instance, may choose to keep critical EHR systems hosted internally and begin moving less critical data, such as administrative files or emails to a cloud server off-site. Cloud backups are another good way to "dip your toes" in the hybrid cloud waters. Microsoft's Office 365 is another good solution which allows you to ease into a cloud environment one step at a time.

    Still not sure if the cloud is right for your business? Contact us today for a free consultation!