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Clarifying The Myths Around Cloud Technology

The world of computing continues to progress in leaps and bounds, so much so that today’s solutions would have been unimaginable 15 to 20 years ago. One area where this is particularly true is the world of cloud computing, which has been embraced by businesses even more rapidly since the Covid-19 pandemic. Cloud computing solutions can provide many business benefits, from lower costs and higher performance to scalable services and remote access capabilities.

These solutions centre around the hosting of data and applications in data centres without the need for on-premises servers. The Cloud makes it possible to run a complex IT system without the challenges and cost of maintaining extensive physical infrastructure, with Software as a Service applications, sophisticated backup and data recovery solutions, data storage and database resources just a few of the many services on offer.

However for some, Cloud technology can feel intangible and therefore untrustworthy and unreliable, prompting some businesses to cling onto outdated on-premises solutions that are well past their best. In this piece, we will clarify the myths around cloud computing and outline how it can benefit your business.

The Cloud – What is it?

Cloud computing can be viewed as a progression in how humans communicate, deliver services, and manage information. In simple terms, cloud computing involves accessing and hosting a company’s IT services over the internet. These services are organized and maintained by dedicated data centres, as opposed to using on-premises servers. Often considered the future of IT, cloud computing is the foundation of many of the latest tools, services and infrastructure available to businesses.

Compared to traditional IT solutions based on often costly and complex on-premises hardware, the cloud offers an outsourced, flexible and highly scalable solution. Cloud solutions get much closer to the ‘pay for what you use’ pricing model, whereas traditional IT solutions are often less precise, with expensive costs for cooling and powering servers which may not be operating to their full capacity.

In traditional solutions, if server capacity needed to be expanded, this involved paying large upfront costs for a new server and its setup. Cloud solutions side-step this problem, saving businesses inefficiency and upfront capital investment costs.

Now that we understand the cloud in more detail, let us explore the myths around the Cloud further.

The myths of the Cloud

 

“We won’t achieve any greater value from the cloud than we do from our current IT”

It can be hard to assess the value of an intangible solution, so naturally it can be hard to see exactly how the cloud will benefit your business. Let’s focus on how the cloud offers value in two key ways: 1) Cost-efficiency and 2) Enhanced profitability

Cost Efficiency

Most cloud solutions are based on a subscription model; you pay for what you use, and you can downgrade or upgrade your services at relatively short notice. Because the cloud provider specialises in providing cloud services, they will be better placed than most businesses to optimise and manage the software and hardware-based services involved, otherwise they would effectively be cutting their own profit margins or lose their competitiveness!

The cloud eliminates large upfront costs because the cloud provider hosts and manages the infrastructure on your behalf. You pay to rent resources, software or hardware – in most cases. This removes the burden of hardware acquisition, maintenance and lifecycle costs, while giving IT staff more time to focus on strategically valuable activities.

Enhanced Profitability

The more positive side of the coin is that cloud solutions often perform better than traditional applications. If we take one example, Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based productivity and collaboration platform with intelligent cloud-enabled features, such as smart-search, design suggestions, automations and live document collaboration. These kinds of tools enhance efficiency, value, and save time for businesses that use them.

Of course, we are skimming the surface of what cloud computing has to offer to businesses. With the help of a Managed Services Provider, you can find opportunities across the length and breadth of your business to derive value from cloud software and infrastructure solutions. This can include solutions such as Microsoft 365, virtualisation of your on-premise servers, and cloud-based insight and optimisation platforms.

“I do not need to back-up my data if we work in the Cloud.”

This is only partially true. Cloud solutions certainly offer the potential for regular live backing up and storing of data which is a big boon for businesses. However, there is no way of offering a 100% guarantee for updating and protecting your data.

However, the cloud does enable highly robust solutions compared to traditional IT solutions in this area. The cloud enables live data backup and recovery solutions, as well as failover mechanisms so that even if one component in the cloud infrastructure fails to back up the data, it will be stored on another server by the provider securely.

Security is only as strong as its weakest link. While the cloud offers enterprise-grade security solutions and the ability to conduct regular backups, it still is important to align your people, processes and technology together into a robust business continuity solution that ensures that your data is backed up and recoverable.

In all, it is entirely possible to back up your cloud data and systems securely via an independent cloud service and enjoy peace of mind from this. You can also migrate your on-premises data to the cloud. These cloud-based solutions will also tend to be more cost-efficient, faster and reliable. However, we don’t want to give a false promise here. While the cloud affords valuable data backup and recovery capabilities, it’s important to complement your business continuity strategy with an on-premises backup solution to further aid data security and recoverability.

“The Cloud is unsafe as my data is no longer in my control in my office.”

It is a common misconception that just because your data is residing on a server within your own premises, it is safe. In reality, both physically and virtually, your data is arguably safer in the cloud. Here’s why…

Data centres are highly secure, feature advanced failover mechanisms should issues arise (such as a power outages) and enjoy some of the most robust digital security measures on the market. Microsoft for example, spends over $1 billion per year on cyber security, resulting in unparalleled data security and service resilience for its cloud customers.

“A forever subscription service will cost me more in the long-run”

This is a somewhat complicated one as the devil is in the detail. Switching to a monthly subscription model can appear to cost more as the spending goes on indefinitely. However, a number of regular costs are also averted, such as hardware and software replacement, maintenance and licensing, and time-costs involved in these activities. Instead, these responsibilities are adopted by the cloud provider and are included in the subscription pricing. The efficiency, productivity and time-based benefits should also be factored into the equation.

There are a few cases where an on-premises data and application hosting solution could be more cost effective:

  • Where the data and storage will remain fairly consistent over time
  • Sometimes, where legacy systems need to be interoperable with the hosting solutions.
  • If the organisation is very large and has the capacity to expertly setup, optimise and integrate their data, systems and infrastructure together.

“I don’t know where my data is, and I have lost all control”

Control is essential for a business to operate and remain compliant. This can be a big reason why businesses hesitate to move to the cloud, with many believing that migrating services off-site means relinquishing control. However, in many cases the cloud can actually support compliance objectives by delivering a secure environment for the storage of sensitive information, and providing tools that enable easy data governance and oversight.

How so? Because you do still have control! The providers of cloud solutions themselves need to be compliant with regulations such as GDPR. Microsoft for example, has dedicated data centres in Europe so that the data of EU and UK citizens (The UK still follows GDPR) remains within its territorial jurisdiction. On top of this, cloud service providers often encrypt data to keep it secure, alongside a host of other measures to enhance data centre security.

In terms of control, you can still access and manage your data with a cloud solutions provider. However, take care to take proactive measures and to review the data protection regulations that apply to your business to ensure that your cloud solutions are configured and managed in a way that is compliant.

Ensuring value from your IT

Using the tools at your disposal in your Microsoft 365 ecosystem correctly will ensure value. You have the power to revolutionise the way your organisation works. We can ensure that you implement the right tools, use them correctly, and plan for the future with those tools as important assets in the sustained success of your organisation. Our success can be attributed to one thing: TRUST. Ever since our very first year in business our clients have been happy to recommend us to other businesses, and we have grown steadily as a result of this. We can help you get the best from your IT in the most secure way possible, providing your business with a stable platform for growth. Don’t hesitate – contact us now!