What is the Cloud all About?
Simply put, the Cloud refers to a software or service that is accessed solely through the internet; it is also known as ‘SaaS’, Software as a Service.
You probably already use several services that are Cloud or SaaS-based like OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail) and many others.
How it works
Information is stored on physical servers that are maintained and controlled by the SaaS provider. You, as a user, can access information you have stored there by logging into your account through your web browser on your PC, Laptop, Tablet or Smartphone.
Benefits of SaaS
As they are based completely online, they usually do not require any downloads or software to be installed on your machine nor do they need any maintenance from your side in order to use it.
The service provider handles the hardware, power, connectivity, server operations, applications and maintenance. All the user needs to do it is log in and use.
SaaS can save you money as most are billed only on what you use and can be easily scaled up and down depending on your usage and growth, at any time, with regular monthly billing. There is also no big upfront cost involved unlike when purchasing a server or software package.
With a lot of people working from home and constantly on the move, the way we work is changing. With a SaaS application, your workforce can access the data they need to do their job from anywhere at any time.
A drawback is that outages do happen, and you would need to have a contingency plan in place for this. Some SaaS providers like Office 365 and Google Apps do allow for some offline functionality. Your business would need to take into account the needs of the company when looking at the Cloud.
The service is in the Cloud, and therefore secure. Wrong.
Whilst this is true in part, access to data is governed by the customer’s configuration (password strength etc). If access control and management policies are poor, security will be poor. Office 365 without MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) is not secure and Amazon S3 buckets exposed to the internet with poor passwords are also not secure.
My data is in the Cloud, and therefore backed up. Wrong again!
Microsoft will back up your Office 365 tenant for 30 days, this is shorter than most companies would like, recovery is not easy or as granular, and ultimately all of your data is in one place. Always understand the constraints of a Cloud service provider’s backups, and if they do not meet your needs, back up the data somewhere else.
Is the Cloud for you?
The way people are working is changing and the office is becoming mobile. More companies are moving away from the traditional workplace where all the users sit in the office, along with the computers and the server. As the workforce becomes more dispersed, people are working from multiple devices at home, in the office, on the train, or at the airport for example. The Cloud makes this type of working much more efficient and more profitable. Traveling to a meeting on the train? You wouldn’t have to wait until you’re back in the office to update your files, you can do it from wherever you are. Cloud email, Cloud backup, Cloud security, Cloud accounting and Cloud document sharing all provide flexible and mobile productivity to the modern workforce.
If you are interested in using Cloud services to improve your business, why not give one of our experienced consultants a call? We can make sure the services you choose meet the needs of your business.