Where does your small business process and store its data? If it currently uses local servers in your office, known as an on-premises information technology (IT) infrastructure, you should consider migrating to the cloud. Offered by cloud service providers, cloud computing allows your small business to tap into the computing resources and scale much larger data centers, without the large capital investment and management responsibility. It’s a versatile alternative to on-premises IT infrastructures that can benefit your small business in several big ways.
1) Remote Access
Cloud computing offers more efficient capabilities for centralizing resources that need to be accessed by workers in multiple locations – whether from employee homes or branch offices. Depending on the cloud service that you select, you can gain even greater capabilities for remote collaboration. A service like Microsoft’s Office 365 allows you to access your business files from nearly any device or location if they are stored on the cloud. While some remote access solutions can enable this functionality for on-premises servers, cloud computing makes it easy and requires less infrastructure and configuration.
Once logged in to your cloud service, you’ll see your stored files. You can then proceed to open and view these files or download them onto your device. All business files stored on the cloud can be remotely accessed. The security of these documents, access, and scenarios in which documents can be downloaded can all be controlled by the organization.
2) Enhanced Collaboration
With some cloud computing solutions, like Office 365, you can easily collaborate on business-related projects with your colleagues. Collaboration can be a challenge with on-premises IT infrastructures and traditional tools. If you store documents in an on-premises file server and you or your colleagues are away from your business office, you won’t be able to collaborate in real time. Instead, when you make changes to the file, you’ll have to manually send it to all of the colleagues with whom you are collaborating. And when they make changes to the file, they’ll have to send it to you as well.
Cloud computing solutions like Office 365 makes collaboration a breeze. Many cloud computing services show which users are accessing the stored files. More importantly, when you modify a file stored on the cloud, it’s updated in real time for all your colleagues. You don’t have to send the modified file to your colleagues. If a colleague wants to work on it, he or she can access the modified file through your business cloud computing account. While you can replicate some of these functions in an on-premises SharePoint environment, that requires a hefty investment in infrastructure, management, and you won’t receive as many new features as the cloud technology is enhanced more rapidly.
3) High Availability and Data Resiliency
Another reason to migrate your business IT infrastructure to the cloud is scalability. Cloud service providers offer almost endless resources to meet the unique needs of their customers. If your small business is still in its early stages, you probably don’t need to spend thousands of dollars each month on cloud computing. To manage costs, you can start with a lower resource solution that matches the scale and features that you need. As your small business grows and demands more computing resources, you can scale your cloud computing resources to meet this need. With the cloud, you pay for what you need.
You can technically scale an on-premises IT infrastructure, but it’s more expensive and difficult. To upscale an on-premises IT infrastructure, you’ll have to purchase new servers or hardware. To downscale, you’ll have to remove some of your servers or hardware. In comparison, you can upscale or downscale cloud computing simply by changing your package.
4) Automatic Backups
Nearly all cloud computing services support automatic backups. You don’t have to manually create copies of your business files. After adjusting your account settings, the cloud computing service will create them on your behalf. The copied files will then be saved on a cloud server where they are separated from your office files.
Some cloud computing services even offer file synchronization as an optional feature. When enabled, this feature will automatically synchronize your business’s local files with its remote files. If you create a new file while working at a computer in your office, the cloud computing service will create and store a copy of the file on the cloud server.
Cloud computing is also eco-friendly. If you take the route of an on-premises IT infrastructure, you’ll have to purchase and maintain servers locally. Servers, of course, consume a lot of energy, which is taxing on the environment. Servers also contain toxic metals like lead and chromium that can pollute waterways if not properly disposed of.
To minimize your business’s environmental footprint, you should choose cloud computing. Cloud computing still involves the use of servers, but you’ll share them with other customers. A dozen other businesses, for instance, may use computing resources from the same cloud server as your small business.
6) Increased Security
You can lower your small business’s risk of data breaches by migrating to the cloud. Reputable cloud service providers implement strong security measures to ensure that only authorized users can access stored data. They also perform regular security updates to patch vulnerabilities. These providers also include a great deal of physical security to protect the physical locations in which your data is stored.
While cloud providers are doing their part to keep your data secure, organizations are not absolved of responsibility. For extra protection against data breaches, you can enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) with your cloud computing account. This optional security feature expands the login process by requiring a username and password as well as at least one other extra piece of information, such as a confirmation code that’s sent to your mobile device or inbox. There are also security measures like access management and other configuration that ensure a secure cloud environment. Consult Peters & Associates to learn more about securing your cloud resources.
Rather than using one or more local servers to process and store data, you should consider using a cloud computing service. It allows you to pay only for the computing resources that your small business needs. Along with scalability, other benefits of cloud computing include remote access, enhanced collaboration, high availability, and increased security.
Peters & Associates is an award-winning Chicago-area cloud services provider. We can assess your cloud readiness to identify the best cloud IT applications and infrastructure for your organization. If you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.