Is the Cloud For You?

The Cloud

Let Us Help Put Your Fears and Confusion To Rest

What is the Cloud? For the most part (and for our discussion) The Cloud is a general term that means any application or service that is hosted out on the Internet instead of on an in-house server or appliance. You may hear that The Cloud is a cure-all feature for everything that ails business technology. Can it help your business or is going to cause grief? Let us help answer your questions and concerns.

So what are the advantages of moving to a cloud-based service?

  • Cost: One of the biggest advantages of moving to a cloud-based service is the elimination or large up-front hardware and/or software costs required for in-house service deployments. This up-front cost is generally replaced by a per-user monthly payment.
  • Mobility: While you may have setup or tweaked your in-house applications so they could be accessed remotely, cloud-based services are built from the ground-up to be accessed from anywhere without additional tweaks needed. For remote workers, connecting to a data center is generally going to be a smoother and faster process than connecting back to the office.
  • Scalability: As you and your needs grow, cloud-based options can typically grow with you. From increased storage capacity to more processor power, cloud providers can grow to meet your needs.
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery: Without a large capital expense, you will never be able to build out the infrastructure that cloud-providers have already built. They generally offer more redundancy than you could ever provide on your own, and lets you run your business should something happen to your main office. Even when you know what you’re doing, it’s best to not have everything in one basket.
  • Automatic Updates and Patching: You don’t need to worry about patching or updating services like you would with an in-house service. The cloud provider will take care of that for you.

“This sounds great,” you may say. “But what about…?” Yes, we know there are certainly some disadvantages as well:

  • Reliance on Solid Internet Access: If you don’t have a solid, high-speed Internet connection, cloud services are not going to work with your business. Since everything is Internet-based, if that internet connection goes down, your productivity goes down. We typically recommend a carrier-grade (Fiber, T1, etc…) high-speed connection with (if at all possible) a redundant automatic failover to another connection.
  • Security and Privacy: It’s a scary thing saving your business data on a server that you don’t control and isn’t in your office. It’s also something that needs to be researched if you fall under HIPAA or similar regulations. If your vendor doesn’t fully outline their security, compliance, and privacy practices (similar to how Microsoft does it) or isn’t willing to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for HIPAA-regulated industries, you might want to consider talking to another provider.
  • Technical Issues: When technical issues do arise, you’re at the mercy of your provider to return the services to full operation. Even the best providers have issues and you’ll want to check the providers service-level-agreements.
  • Limited Control: Since the cloud infrastructure is entirely managed and owned by the provider, you are at their mercy to have the control you need. For most businesses, this is fine, but it’s something you need to consider.
  • Contract/Vendor Locks: Once you sign on with a cloud service, moving your data to another service is generally difficult. Some vendors will also require signing long-term contracts. Making sure you research properly upfront will help alleviate those issues.

Like everything, moving to the cloud has its pros and cons, and every use case will be different. Call or email us today to discuss options for your business to see if the cloud is right for you.

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