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Cutting through ‘The Cloud’

What is The Cloud and where is it based?

Most companies already use the cloud for some form of their day to day business.  Whether it’s internet banking, webmail, online accountancy, CRM, tax processing or online purchasing.

All of these products still have big pieces of equipment sitting somewhere running the services you are using, they just don’t happen to be under your desk, or in your server room!

Cloud Computing is just the same, it takes the key business applications currently running on equipment under your desk, or in your server room and puts them on a third party hosted server in a data centre.  Access is provided as a service through the Internet and voila, your business is operating on cloud technology!

Should you trust it with your key business critical applications?

Whether you should trust the cloud depends on:-

  1. Do you trust the company that is providing the hosted cloud service?
  2. Do you trust all of your key data being fully off-site?
  3. Is it being fully hosted within the UK?  If not are there any implications, Data Protection or otherwise for your data being hosted, or backed up overseas?
  4. Are your current systems, equipment and connectivity suited to running in a cloud environment?

Pro’s of cloud services:-

  1. Typically a fixed cost therefore easy to budget.
  2. Applications are usually held in well managed Data Centres which are often backed up elsewhere for resilience.
  3. Normally a fully managed service, typically leaving maintenance issues and upgrade cost with the provider.
  4. Good business continuity, providing flexible access should you not be able to use your own site.

Con’s of cloud computing:-

  1. Whilst cost can be fixed, they can be more expensive in the medium to long run.
  2. Hosted applications are typically ‘one flavour’ and fairly inflexible to develop changes for individual business needs.
  3. Once your data/systems are in ‘The Cloud’ migration back is difficult.
  4. If you lose Internet connectivity you lose all of your key operational systems and data.  For example, if your Microsoft applications are hosted you wont be able to open Word and Excel if your Internet is down.

My business should maybe consider The Cloud if:-

  1. You have multiple sites, a large number of remote/home based or mobile staff.
  2. You have excellent connectivity e.g. leased line connectivity with redundant failover.
  3. You used standardised system applications without any customisation to suit your business.

The Cloud is probably not the right option just now if:-

  1. The majority of your staff in a single location.
  2. If you are running your business on ADSL.  (Typical business ADSL have no Service Level Agreements in place and therefore restoration of service is entirely dependent on the ISP’s work schedules).
  3. You require flexibility and upgrades in the applications you use.

For more detail on whether the cloud would suit your business contact KS Services on 01274 772244 or email here.

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