The Cloud: FAQs
Written by Chris Thornton
Don’t let cloud confuse you: this month, we’re answering the most common questions we receive from clients dealing with their own cloud computing environments...
Whether you're planning to move some or all of your IT infrastructure, it’s perfectly normal to encounter stumbling blocks during your migration to the cloud. We help clients from every corner of the small business world coordinate cloud services with their IT deployments - after encountering almost every challenge, we want to share our knowledge with a list of FAQs to help you get to grips with the process.
Q: Why does my business need the cloud?
A: The cloud offers your IT infrastructure flexibility, mobility, security and storage through innovative apps and other software capabilities which aren't traditionally available to SME IT budgets. Most significantly, the cloud can help your small business reach new clients, keep pace with competitors and even compete with larger enterprise organisations.
Q: What is the cloud?
A: Practically, the cloud represents services delivered from a series of third-party servers to users' computers and personal devices. But the cloud is more than just technological infrastructure, it's also a new computing philosophy: cloud services manifest as software platforms and apps which may be incorporated into your organisation as budgets and specific business needs change. In this respect, the great advantage of cloud computing is its scalability.
Q: What is public vs. private cloud computing?
A: Public cloud services are available to everyone and include platforms like Gmail, Google Docs, Office 365 and Dropbox. Generally, public cloud services are easy to integrate, varied and multifunctional, with businesses subscribing on a monthly pay-as-you-go basis (and all the scalable advantages that brings).
On the other hand, private cloud platforms offer the same services as public models and are delivered in the same way - but with an infrastructure dedicated to a private organisation. Private platforms maximize the power and efficiency of your cloud infrastructure... but obviously involve greater costs.
Q: How do I 'use' the cloud?
A: The cloud can augment and enhance your business to the degree you see fit. Cloud apps cover a comprehensive range of business needs which, at a glance, include traditional Office-style software suites, document creation, editing and collaboration tools, scheduling services, security features and straightforward data storage. For extra computing power you may seek to boost your business' IT strength by incorporating cloud based servers.
Q: Is the cloud secure?
A: Your cloud infrastructure offers security advantages over on-premises IT set-ups but you should think carefully about how and where you want your data to be protected. Since data is stored on off-site servers, the cloud protects data from the vulnerabilities of physical storage (fire, flood, theft, failure to back-up, etc...) but by exporting data and computing processes to the cloud you're putting security measures in the hands of your provider. In practice, this means, you'll need secure passwords and login details, and be careful about who has access.
Bear in mind, there's no such thing as a cyber-security 'magic bullet'. Like any security strategy, the cloud has strengths and weaknesses but it works undeniably well as an additional, affordable level of protection if you're incorporating it into a wider policy for your business.
Q: Do I have to move my entire IT infrastructure to the cloud?
A: Not unless you want to. Rather than moving every part of your network to an online environment, you can choose to integrate a hybrid solution, incorporating a cloud data storage solution with your own on-site computing power (or vice-versa) as security and space requirements dictate. The scalability of the cloud means you can build flexibility into the foundation of your IT infrastructure.
Q: Where can I access the cloud?
A: The cloud is an expansive service: businesses can access cloud platforms anywhere there is an internet connection. This means your employees can access on-going projects from their personal devices, or work remotely, from home or on the train. The cloud can help you unlock the collaborative potential of your business, emphasising productivity and continuity inside and outside your premises.
Still grappling with your own cloud migration? Talk to us today for help and advice on bringing your business into the cloud and taking advantage of everything your platform offers...
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