When it comes to the cloud, your business is going to have to make some choices. There are several different types of options, all of which might suit your organization depending on its specific needs. To help you make the best decision possible, we have put together a short list of questions you should consider when making a commitment to a cloud solution for your business.
With the cloud gaining so much traction in recent years, you might begin to wonder if the cloud is an appropriate next step for your business to take. Well, today, we might just have your answer, and it’s one that you probably have already guessed at. Yes, the cloud is a great way for your business to improve access to technology solutions. Let’s go over how you might use it.
SASE has established itself as the de facto standard for future-proofing business networks. Gartner developed the term “secure access service edge methods” in 2019. They come in many forms and sizes. Now that many organizations (and investors) have adopted SASE, it is time to assess if it lives up to its big boasts of cost-effective security, agility, and adaptability.
Data Redundancy One of the most crucial parts of any business’ computing infrastructure is its backup system. Data, especially important personal and financial data, needs to be protected, sure, but it’s the operational data that, if lost, would be like throwing money away. Since most public cloud platforms are managed and maintained (and often guaranteed) by the host, they include comprehensive data redundancy in the cost of the service. This ensures that with cloud computing, your data and your business are protected from data loss. Enhanced Mobility If you are a business owner in 2020, we don’t have to tell you how important mobility is nowadays. With cloud computing you are paying for a service that can be accessed from anywhere with a broadband Internet connection from nearly any device you can have at any time. If that doesn’t improve your business’ mobility, I’m not sure what will. Improved Collaboration Businesses need to control their costs. That’s why they need to do more with less. One way to stretch costs is to leverage collaborative technology. Today’s cloud-based productivity and management platforms are built with collaboration in mind, giving organizations the resources they need to both promote strong productivity while keeping costs down Data Storage When a business commits to the notion that its computing isn’t as dependent on a single location as it once was, they can keep from spending huge amounts of capital on hardware refreshes and store their data securely in the cloud. Along with anytime/anywhere access, the cloud offers a reliable and secure platform for businesses looking for an alternative to purchasing expensive new hardware. Scalability One of the most valuable aspects of using cloud-hosted resources is the ability to scale up and back and only pay for the computing your business needs. Adding accounts, terabytes, or complete software titles takes only minutes removing major hurdles and expense. There have been situations where the ability to scale cloud solutions up and back quickly have saved businesses so much money that it has paid for entire projects. Communications The cloud is so reliable that many businesses are beginning to switch to cloud-hosted telephone and conferencing systems. This not only cuts major business expenses inside the office; hosted VoIP can pay for itself in the amount that it saves businesses on mobile fees. The reliability of cloud communications is better than ever and with so many businesses relying on remote workers and communications, the cloud provides a cost-effective solution. If you would like to learn more about how the cloud can revolutionize the way you look at your business’ IT, call the IT professionals at SRS Networks today at (831) 758-3636.
Problems You May See with Cloud Services Most of the cloud services companies will deploy are “as-a-Service” products designed to cut costs and provide the scalability and flexibility needed with today’s mobile workforces. As a result, there will have to be some extra diligence on the other end of this to ensure that data is secure and accessible. Loss of Service Even the biggest names in cloud computing suffer from downtime. Sure, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft’s uptime is much closer to 100 percent than they are to 99 percent, but you could still suffer from some downtime. Being sure that your staff is notified when planned outages are scheduled, it will eliminate some of the concern they have. Data Loss and Breaches Nowadays, hackers and cybercriminals are on the lookout for vulnerabilities in systems no matter who they belong to, or how they’re used. Cloud service providers typically maintain very strong security standards, and tend to use powerful tools to ward against unauthorized access to their drives. Compliance Issues Many compliance regulations require built-in transparency and sometimes that can be difficult when your organization uses cloud services. Additionally, regulations that call on proof of security may be a headache for your organization. There are resources on the market that are built to help your organization keep in compliance, but if you choose to trust SRS Networks with the management of your IT infrastructure, you will find that our IT professionals can ensure data integrity, keeping your business safe from rebuke. If you use cloud-hosted resources for your business, understanding where the holes are can keep you from having problems with platform security and data integrity. Call the IT professionals at (831) 758-3636 today to learn more about cloud security.
The Benefits of Working from Home There are benefits to working from home, even under normal circumstances, that employees undoubtedly appreciate. A big one is eliminating the commute. While those fortunate enough to live just a few minutes from the office may not see the significance, for most, the commute can be a terrible thing. In New York City, the average commute takes about 43 minutes, and rural areas of the United States see 30 percent of their workforce traveling 30 minutes each way to get to work. There are also the health benefits and decreased spending that can be seen, as employees are less inclined to snack and order out for their meals. Home also features fewer of the distractions that the office presents. In fact, despite the other distractions that the home can provide, a Stanford study conducted over two years demonstrates that working from home can greatly boost productivity. Finally, as an employer, you have to appreciate the decreased investment into space and utilities that remote strategies can bring if it were to become the norm. The Issues with Working From Home Unfortunately, there is no universal standard for what to expect when using a remote work strategy. Some employees just aren’t as productive doing work at home as they are doing work in the office, which gives many business owners and managers reasons to hold back on remote work privileges. It falls to the employees to gain the trust needed to convince the employer that remote capabilities are a good thing. There is a general acceptance of the idea that, if a person is at their desk at work, they are at least contributing something to the overall productivity of the group. Remote work’s benefits transcend simple company culture and can really impact a business’ functionality. Whether it is a matter of preference, or based on a need like the health concerns you are currently facing, everyone stands to gain when remote work is a viable option. How to Make the Most of Remote Capabilities As an Employee: Be on Time: While the eliminated commute makes the morning easier, make sure you spend the extra time you have doing what you need to do, whether that’s taking care of the family, eating a better breakfast than you otherwise could, or getting in a bit of reading or meditation. However you spend your extra time, just make sure you are in your seat and ready to work when you are supposed to be. Focus: Without the distractions of the office, focusing on your tasks should be somewhat easier. Try to accomplish as much as you can between breaks in your concentration. You will accomplish more, and the work will be better for it. Track Accurately: It is absolutely crucial that you accurately track how you are spending your time working from home. Take note of when you start and end your tasks, acknowledge when you reach certain milestones in your progress, and make sure you are communicating with the rest of your team to keep them up to speed. This accountability can also placate those who may distrust you are working diligently. Use the Right Equipment: Rather than going through the process of setting up an office phone in your house to deal with meetings you need […]
Let’s review how cloud computing can be harnessed to your business’ advantage. Flexibility and Scalability Thanks to how a cloud solution functions, it is especially easy for your business to operate in the way that suits it best. By leveraging the cloud, your employees would no longer be restricted to only working from your office space, instead being able to access their work from any secure Internet connection. As a result, your employees have the chance to work more effectively, more often. Furthermore, cloud computing allows you to scale your business’ available resources to best suit your needs. By using cloud resources for your computing needs, concerns about over- or under-investing in the solutions your business requires become a non-issue, and you are able to expand your business at an optimal rate. Cost Savings On a related note, investing in the cloud allows you to optimize your IT spend… otherwise, you’d have to invest in all of the necessary infrastructure for an in-house solution, plus the maintenance of your systems. When you subscribe to a cloud solution, these costs are replaced by a predictable service fee, allowing you to better manage your company’s finances and invest more into your growth. Security Unfortunately, it is only too easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to cybersecurity, which can leave your business’ data vulnerable to threats like malware, ransomware, hardware corruption, or even disaster events and other common causes of data loss. While they are not completely infallible, cloud service providers typically have more experience and better resources to help keep your data secure, as well as the motivation to do so. Productivity and Efficiency Finally, few things help a business to grow as much as being able to operate productively. As we discussed above, the secure access that a properly configured cloud solution can give your employees allows them to work effectively, from anywhere. This leads to improved potential productivity, as well as increased freedom for your employees to work as they do best. If cloud computing sounds like it could play a role in your operations, reach out to SRS Networks at (831) 758-3636. We can help you adopt a solution that works for you.
Efficient Team Collaboration Probably the most important consideration of rolling out a cloud platform for your business is the collaborative benefits that it brings. Since the cloud applications, infrastructure, or storage is hosted on computers outside your business and accessed through a web client or web browser, they can provide support for multiple users at a time. Many of these constructs allow for real-time collaboration irrespective of the users’ geographical location. User Tip: To get the most out of your team, consider adding in software that comes with mobile apps that allow for collaboration from smartphones. Productivity, Productivity, Productivity Studies have shown a major bump in productivity with the use of cloud. In fact, productivity for small businesses can improve operational efficiency up to four times. This means that four times as much can get done than with traditional computing structure. This uptick is largely fueled by the increased speed each task can get done with their collaborative features. User Tip: To boost productivity, cloud computing platforms have to be managed effectively. While cloud providers mainly handle the maintenance and security of the cloud resources your company uses, ensuring that someone is in charge of keeping files and resources managed properly is important. Save or Re-organize Capital For the business owner, this is undeniably the major reason to commit to cloud computing. You can save money in several ways. Firstly, you don’t have to roll out a server, and the thousands of dollars that accompany that whole process. Instead you just pay for the computing that you use for any given month. This is very attractive for businesses that need to scale their computing needs up and back frequently. The second way a business saves money with the cloud is in management and security. By playing for cloud services, you curtail a lot of management costs that are typically associated with having enterprise software. Your business gets the latest version of the software, providing access to all new features, and security patches, as they happen. The final way your business saves money is on the actual hosting of the hardware. Utility costs like electric and HVAC can cost companies a pretty penny. Those costs are rolled into the solution drastically reducing operational expenses and the space needed to properly host large centralized computing systems. Overall, a business’ cloud resources can be looked on as an operational cost, making it easier to manage. User tip: if you are looking at migrating your company’s computing to the cloud, start small. This ensures that the cloud is right for your company. For example, if your industry operates under strict regulations, public cloud platforms may hinder your business’ ability to comply with these mandates. Dipping your proverbial toe in the cloud pool to see how it affects your business is a solid practice. If you’d like to talk to one of our IT professionals at SRS Networks about expanding your business’ reliance on cloud computing, call us today at (831) 758-3636.
It’s pretty great, right? With every silver lining, there is a darker, more dreary side. For cloud computing, it’s the fact that, like all technology, it is not inherently secure. The Cloud is (Basically) Just Someone Else’s Computer When you connect a computer to the Internet, you invite outside entities to try to infiltrate it. Viruses, malware, unpatched vulnerabilities, and other threats can creep onto an unprotected device and take over. This could lead to data theft or data loss. That’s why we all know to use antivirus and avoid using outdated software. That’s why we don’t install random software or visit sketchy websites. I’m pretty confident my reader base knows the drill here. The cloud is essentially no different. It’s just a computer or an array of computers connected to the Internet. If it isn’t properly protected, it can be compromised. If you use Google’s G Suite platform and your email is handled through Gmail, and you are storing files in Google Drive, then you are simply using Google’s computers to do so. If you are using Microsoft 365, then you are storing your email and data on Microsoft’s computers. *Side note, I miss being able to refer to anything related to Microsoft as belonging to Bill Gates. I’d love to be able to tell clients that they are using Bill Gates’ computers to store their Outlook. Maybe I just still haven’t come to terms with the fact that he stepped down from Microsoft back in 2006. The point is, while we can typically trust these massive services to handle our data correctly, we still need to be aware that we are depending on them to do so. On a smaller scale, you might use a local web hosting company, or you might pay to host a server at a smaller data center. The same applies – you are relying on this third-party to keep you safe. My gut tells me to be skeptical whether I’m entrusting a major corporation like Microsoft or a small company with a data center, but at least with Microsoft I know that millions of others are using the service. The Cloud Isn’t Always the Fast Path to Compliance Complying to industry standards like PCI DSS, HIPAA, and the GDPR can be a big undertaking, especially for smaller businesses. Often, a nice big step towards compliance can be to rely on a third-party who focuses on hosted environments that meet those compliance regulations. This means that moving towards the cloud is often a win, but you need to read and understand the fine print before you simply pull the trigger. For example, let’s say you are storing names and credit card numbers. You absolutely need to keep this data encrypted and control who has access. If your cloud host can get around that and employees can access the data, you might not fall under certain compliances. When it comes to protecting the data of your customers, there are a lot of moving parts and considerations, so spending a lot of time upfront and ensuring that your cloud solution can handle this, AND doing regular checks will have to become a way of life. Like Anything Else, It’s Only as Secure as Its Weakest Link (Sorry, End Users) Ever play Jenga, where you have to […]
What Can You Use the Cloud For? Do you need communications tools? Check. Hosted-VoIP and email. Do you need processing power? Check. Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service. Do you need applications and storage? Check. Software as a Service and hosted Storage. The truth is that anything you can do with onsite hardware, you can accomplish with cloud resources that are billed per user, per month; or, per gigabyte. In the cloud, you can quickly deliver your business functionality, redundancy, and everything else that it needs to be effective. It works great for full-time, part-time, and temporary workers, alike; and, can be leveraged quickly, with only short setup processes before it is a viable, and mostly secure tool. What Are the Drawbacks? The drawbacks of cloud computing, especially in environments that are hosted by an outside service provider, are typically caught up in the lack of control your organization has over the hardware itself. Businesses can choose to create onsite “private” cloud systems that return the large capital costs to the company, but provide controls and management over their hardware systems as well as the accessibility needed to remotely access the system, among the other superlative aspects that cloud access brings to an organization’s IT. One of the major drawbacks is, ironically, cost. Since the IT infrastructure used to run the solutions is housed and managed by the service provider, they price solutions accordingly. If your organization needs 30 cloud licenses, the solution could get costly quick. What’s worse, if you have people leave your employ, and you don’t reactively cancel the cloud solution before your monthly license is up, you will be on the hook for the cost of the monthly fee. If this doesn’t seem like a costly scenario, think about the times when you assemble teams that work on projects. These projects require three or four cloud-based applications and other resources. If each member of a project team is costing the business hundreds of dollars a month in software, a month or two paying for solutions for a large team that has all but wrapped up its project just decimates the ROI of the project. In order to ensure that you aren’t paying for cloud-based resources that you don’t need to pay for, having a strategy in place to manage all of your organization’s cloud-based resources is important. At SRS Networks, we have a tried-and-true system to ensure that your cloud resources are managed and that you aren’t paying for more than you need to. Call us today at (831) 758-3636 for more information.