As the digital transformation of the business landscape gathers pace, more and more businesses are looking to the cloud as a way to reduce operational costs, increase operational efficiency, and leverage the power of emerging digital technologies. While several business benefits come with adopting a cloud solution for your company, many small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) worry about the cost and the effort involved in switching to the cloud. The good news is that many cost-effective cloud solutions can help your business adapt to the digital age and beyond. Here are five benefits of switching to cloud solutions and why these services represent the most cost-efficient move you ever make for your business when it comes to IT.
What is the cloud?
The cloud doesn’t exist somewhere in the upper stratosphere. Instead, it’s a term used to refer to massive server farms linked via internet technology to share data anywhere at any time with those authorized (via passwords) to view the data. Thus, the entire internet is a cloud solution involving a backbone of servers hosted by universities, the government (mostly through DARPA – Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and private companies, like Amazon, Alibaba, and Google. Living in Northern Virginia, we see the tangible elements of the cloud in the server farms that take up an entire city block and loom many stories tall that grow like weeds around Ashburn and other DC suburbs. Why there, I’m not really sure except that was the original headquarters of AOL (remember, the massive dial-up operation we all relied on for internet connectivity in the 90s and early 2000s). Hence, cloud computing really isn’t a new technology but we just never really considered the internet as a cloud solution.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is:
a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. These services are broadly divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The name cloud computing was inspired by the cloud symbol that’s often used to represent the Internet in flowcharts and diagrams [the source of this quote is in the caption above].
Cloud computing involves more than connecting large numbers of servers. It involves servers a business rents rather than purchasing their own servers as a means to fuel their business computing needs. Cloud computing provides not just data storage but computing power to manipulate the data. Amazon AWS changed the face of cloud computing by bringing down the cost of storage to allow more businesses to operate profitably.
Why do you need cloud solutions?
We already touched on one of the biggest reasons you need cloud solutions — stability over time. Outages impacting your computing ability mean workers can’t collaborate, customers can’t access answers, orders don’t get processed, and bills don’t get paid. Your business grounds quickly to a halt and, more important than these temporary outages (which represent a serious financial cost to your business) is the damage to your brand and its reputation.
There are other reasons you need cloud solutions to support your business. Below, we discuss 5 reasons you need cloud solutions for your business.
1. Increase output
One of the most obvious benefits gained from using cloud solutions is that it allows you to increase the output of your workforce. Cloud technologies have changed how many companies do business, and in many cases, they have enabled entirely new ways of doing business. For instance, cloud-based video conferencing allows people worldwide to participate in meetings that used to be limited to those physically located near each other. This led to an increase in remote work—and collaborating via cloud technologies became the norm. This kind of remote work has become more critical as the pace of change has accelerated in recent years. By removing geographical limitations, cloud technologies allow people with different skill sets to work together without coordinating via phone or in-person meetings first.
For instance, you can work with a distributed workforce to hire the best people regardless of where they live. Using cloud solutions, this workforce collaborates easily to share data, maintain communication, and use tools like project management to ensure projects proceed on time and on budget. Building cloud-based social spaces, you can replicate the office to allow for better collaboration but also community building that builds social capital and employee engagement to get things done.
Cloud solutions also reduce the impact of human error as shared information isn’t copied into an email message, thus eliminating the chance for a mistake that could cost your business big time.
2. Decrease the time required to complete projects
According to Wired, 52% of leading businesses turn to a cloud solution to speed up innovation and reduce time to market. Many cloud technologies enable you to quickly and easily create virtualized environments that are tailored to your specific needs. This allows you to create cloud-based solutions similar to those you would create on-premises but with the flexibility and quick setup of the cloud. For instance, you can set up a virtual machine that replicates your company’s network and endpoints or create a virtual storage environment that mirrors your existing storage infrastructure.
3. Invest in data-driven decision making
As your organization becomes more reliant on data and analytics to make informed business decisions, the need to collect and manage data becomes increasingly important. That data, when analyzed properly contains invaluable, actionable insights to help optimize your operations. Decisions based on data offer opportunities to reduce costs and increase revenue.
The best cloud solutions enable you to easily collect data from end-users, devices, and internal sources such as sales data and sensor data. Once you store this data in a central repository available to decision-makers they can use it to inform their decisions that improve performance. This can significantly reduce the time needed to make business decisions and improve those decisions because they’re based on up-to-date insights. For instance, with data from sensors stored in the cloud, an operations team can quickly determine if one machine is working at a higher-than-average rate, or if a particular machine is operating in a manner that suggests required maintenance.
4. Improved security
Security is a concern for every business as the dangers posed by cybercriminals possess the potential to destroy your business. Unless your business is air-gapped, these security threats are real yet when you remove remote access to your information, you eliminate the advantages offered by sharing information. Cloud solutions offer the best of both worlds because cloud providers focus much of their energy on protecting their platforms, providing you with enhanced security. In fact, 94% of businesses said they experienced improved security after moving to a cloud solution.
5. Flexibility and scalability
IT infrastructure is expensive. Owning massive storage capacity means buying the equipment, hiring trained employees to maintain the equipment, housing the equipment (often in multiple locations to avoid local outages), and securing the equipment. As mentioned above, owning IT equipment also means providing for routine and unexpected outages. Cloud solutions are flexible. Hence, if you need a lot of storage and computer power this month and less next, you only pay for what you need and you can factor in an effective savings rate for AWS when using Amazon cloud solutions.
If you need to scale up immediately or face a temporary need for more storage, most cloud providers can easily accommodate your needs.
Businesses need to be careful not to overthink the move to the cloud. The good news is that there are a number of cost-effective cloud solutions, such as https://continuuminnovations.com/ that can help your business adapt to the digital age and beyond.
The key is to research to determine the right solution for your organization. Once you determined which cloud solution is right for you, make the necessary preparations to make the switch. Then sit back and reap the rewards of increased productivity, the decreased time required to perform tasks, and the ability to invest in data-driven decision-making.
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