Previous to the ‘cloud’ becoming commonplace, everyone worked on a computer that was linked up to a physical server in your office. The server was the home of all your software, files and documents. Everyone saved their work onto the server, and systems saved data to the server. If something happened to a computer or laptop, any work or data from that day might be lost, but everything from the last server back-up could be restored onto that machine.
Your server was your business. It was important to look after it, back it up every day, make sure it was working properly at all times and make sure it had enough space for all your business data.
Now, the cloud is fast replacing physical servers located in people’s offices. All it really means is that you no longer need a physical server in your office. Your data, software, applications and documents can be saved and live in the Cloud – a remote server that you access via the internet.
Using a Cloud server instead of a physical server has many business benefits. Especially if your business has multiple locations, homeworkers, and a mix of laptops, desktops and tablets. Anyone is able to access any data at any time.
The risks of using a Cloud server is that if you don’t have an internet signal, you can’t access it. There are also security risks of having that need to be planned for
What is the ‘Cloud’?
The cloud is just a remote server without a physical location in your office. You store your data and documents on it just as you would an office-based physical server. You access it over the internet (often WiFi), rather than via a cable between your server and your desktop computer.
As long as you have an internet connection, you can access your data and systems via the cloud from anywhere and from any laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile.
Can you just keep using a physical server?
Yes, you can, servers can work very well. Especially if you have a small team working exclusively from one office who don’t ever need to access anything from anywhere else, or use anything other than their desktop computer.
However, if you have a team who need to access files and data on the go, or, are based at different sites and use a mix of desktop PC’s, laptops and tablets, a server can be restrictive and cumbersome.
Limitation of physical servers
Having a server in your office can pose certain limitations. You have to look after your server, back it up, make sure it has enough space on it for all your data, and everyone connecting to it has to do so in your office or via a very cumbersome remote access solution.
If anything happened to your server, there is always the risk of losing any data or work that has been done since the last data backup. You have to keep and store your backup files. You have to go through a whole set up process if you have a new team member.
Servers can also be expensive to buy, maintain and upgrade, plus, they take up valuable office space, get quite hot and can by noisy.
Benefits of the cloud
Using a remote server (the cloud) means you free up office space and budget. But more than that, it allows your business to stay up to date and work from anywhere in the world.
The cloud gives you access to your data, documents and systems from any of your laptops, desktops, tablets and smart phones. You don’t need to install an expensive network infrastructure; you just need internet access. If you’re in a meeting or a client’s office and need to access a file or document, you can do; it’s all at your fingertips.
You also don’t need to worry about backing up your data. It is done remotely in real-time. As soon as you have saved something that’s it, it’s there and accessible.
Working in this way also means it is easier to use online software packages like Microsoft Office 365. Gone are the days of buying and installing a specific version of the software on to your server and then being out of date when newer versions are launched. Using online software and a subscription service means you are always up to date with the latest version.
A lot of other business platforms like CRM systems and marketing software are also now all available as online versions. Some only have online versions. This is simple to set up and run as part of your cloud set up.
Why do I need the cloud?
If you have a small team of office only based people, all working exclusively on a desktop computer, maybe you don’t need to move to the cloud because your existing server is sufficient for your needs. But, if you need to be more flexible and agile than that, the cloud allows you to be.
You can grow your business effectively using the cloud, and you can do business anywhere in the world at any time of day or night using the cloud.
It is a flexible solution for evolving and flexible businesses.
What are the risks of using the cloud?
The main one is that if you don’t have internet access you won’t be able to access it. With technology now, there is often a solution even if your main internet connection is down.
There is a worry about data breaches and virus’. These are threats but working with a reputable cloud provider, the risk is minimal. For a SME business the risk is further reduced, as it is the very large data-driven businesses who hackers are most likely to target.
You could be worried about your data being leaked by your own team. There are things you can do to limit this, locking down USB ports and disabling CD drives. Whatever set up you have, server or cloud, there will always be a risk.
The benefits for your business of using the cloud, nearly always outweigh any associated risks.
How much does the cloud cost?
Using the cloud for your business will incur a monthly or annual subscription charge. The amount you pay is based on the amount of data you need. You can change your data needs as you need to, putting you in control of your spend.
Our cloud computing packages start at…
How do I move to the cloud?
If you have decided to move to the cloud for your business, get in touch with us at Agenda IT. We will arrange to come and meet with you and review your current server set up, access and storage needs. Then we will then be able to put together a full proposal specific to your business.
The move to the cloud is quite simple and there will be little that you need to do. We will manage the process and will train your team on how to work with the new system.
Get in touch to find out more about how we can support your business. Contact us on 01858 452 200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Already using cloud-based applications, storage and security, or you are just looking into making the move and what it means, we can help.