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For people less familiar with IT, the Cloud can seem complicated and hard to understand, when in fact, it is quite simple… you are accessing someone else’s computer. Whether Cloud services take the form of infrastructure or software, they allow your business to benefit from greater flexibility, obtain more value and even free up cash. Here’s how:
By adopting a Cloud infrastructure, you are leasing access to the IT equipment of world-class data centres. These data centres are much more robust and powerful than what is generally found in local service offerings. Buying and maintaining facilities of this magnitude would be beyond the reach of most companies.
Whether it’s a platform for collaboration, messaging, document sharing or online services, cloud computing solutions also encompass everything you can do on the Internet. Every website you connect to is hosted on a server, which, in turn, is housed in a data centre. As a whole, the Internet is a vast Cloud infrastructure.
For many SMBs, operating their own infrastructure and servers is not viable. Onsite, this equipment takes up physical space and is vulnerable to power outages and other unpleasant surprises. A major upfront investment is required in addition for specialized staff (or partner in IT managed services) to ensure the maintenance, stability, upgrading and security of equipment.
This “autonomy” brings a lot of responsibility and risk, in return for disappointing performances compared to those of dedicated data centres.
With the Cloud, the infrastructure is shared by thousands of users. So it is the resources of thousands of people who are pooled to fund the best equipment, the best cybersecurity systems and teams of full-time engineers to look after them. All that’s left to install by you is a minimum of network equipment to access the wireless Internet.
Cloud infrastructure keeps pace with your growth with greater flexibility than purchased equipment. As your needs grow, you can enhance your service accordingly. Conversely, if your business slows down for an extended period of time, you can downgrade your agreement. Even if this means paying a penalty, modulating your costs is at least one option available to you.
When you buy the Microsoft Suite at a single cost, you only get the software. Updates must be installed on each workstation, one at a time. After a certain point, the software is no longer supported at all and may need to be replaced. If business slows down and you lay off staff, your unused licences become a dormant investment that brings no gain.
In return for a monthly subscription, a Cloud solution like Microsoft 365 offers you more value. Your software is always up to date and continually improves with the addition of new features. Updates can be centralized and carried out more quickly. Recurring revenues allow the manufacturer to offer you dedicated customer service. Your costs are adjusted, both higher and lower, according to the number of active users you need. Your membership brings you much more than software… it’s a complete service of higher value.
The acquisition of servers, computer equipment and workstations is considered a capital investment. It can easily represent an immediate outlay of $100,000 or more, an amount that will only be amortized over several years. It’s like buying a new vehicle for cash that will lose value year after year. Your equipment becomes an asset for your business, but it also has a cost: that same budget could have been used to renovate your facilities or increase your production capacity.
Cloud solution costs are easier to budget for, like monthly leasing payments. Rather than a major initial investment, you can simply add a fixed fee to your monthly operating costs. Your expenses are predictable and adjust naturally according to your needs.
A company relying on a Cloud infrastructure and software is generally better equipped in terms of teleworking and cybersecurity. There is no need to install VPNs or similar systems and keep them up to date, since it is the service provider (which has more resources) who is responsible to ensure this. This simpler infrastructure is also more resistant to cyber attacks, with fewer vulnerable access points.
In the event of theft or disaster, what would happen to your data stored only on your computers or external hard drives kept onsite? Cloud computing protects this valuable information from physical danger by storing it on servers located elsewhere.
Warning: Although the Cloud offers increased security, basic precautions, such as an antivirus and a backup system, are still necessary. Data centres support many of the security solutions, but your company remains responsible for the immediate virtual environment it occupies. Using a partner in managed services is an excellent way to ensure your company has access to the security and technical support expertise it needs.