Cloud computing and cloud services are software programs that live on the internet rather than on your own computer or network.
The concept has been around for a long time. If you have ever used Hotmail, Google Mail, Dropbox or even Facebook, then you have already used a cloud computing service. However it is the terms such as ‘the cloud’, ‘hosted’ and ‘online’ that are raising interest from a business point of view.
Benefits of ‘the cloud’ include:
- Lower upfront cost
– With costs starting from just a few pounds per user per month, cloud services can be relatively cheap with the upfront outlay small. Cloud solutions such as Microsoft’s ‘Office 365’ provides Office applications and email via a monthly or annual subscription.
– With cloud computing, you don’t own your new fileserver. You are paying a monthly cost to use the service, just like you pay for utilities such as gas and electricity. This reduces the need for capital outlay and new hardware.
- Ease of management
– You don’t have in-house servers to worry about, all the management and software patching is done for you as part of your monthly cost.
– It is ideal for businesses with small or no in-house IT support.
– Administration (i.e. adding and removing users and enabling extra features) is done easily via an online portal with an easy, user friendly interface.
How to get the most from ‘cloud computing’:
- Internet connectivity is important
– Is your internet connection reliable and stable? Have you got a fast enough connection? We recommend fibre broadband where possible. This will be the key factor in how usable the system feels in operation.
– If your new cloud service hosts vital business tools e.g. an online stock ordering system or a live link to your website, you should consider installing a second broadband connection as ‘failover’ in case anything goes wrong with your main link to the internet. We also recommend a 3G failover option where possible. It’s just like having a mobile phone’s data connection plugged into your router and it means you’re not reliant on BT or phone cables in the road.
- Be password secure
– Data security is important and there’s no substitute for strong login passwords. It’s time to stop using ‘password1’ and ‘abc123’. If someone can guess your password, they can access your company data in seconds – set a strong password.
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Discuss cloud computing for your business…