03 Jun Dispelling the myths of the Cloud
The world of computing is unrecognisable compared to 10 years ago. The rapidly advancing technological landscape – and more recently fuelled even further by the Covid-19 pandemic – is changing the way we work; and in many cases, that is changing to a predominantly remote one.
This dramatic and revolutionary change has only been made possible by the Cloud. Business owners that made a rapid transition in the early stages of Covid-19, in order to enable their organisation to operate at a level of something resembling what they were capable of in the office, were entirely reliant on the Cloud as the driver for their operations.
Such change will probably cause anxiety for many, and that is no different for business owner/managers alike and quite understandably. It can be difficult to find a winning formula, so when you need to change the way, you have been doing things for so long it can be a painful experience.
The main cause of apprehension around the Cloud comes from confusion around what the Cloud actually is, and the myths and rumours that surround it.
Let us find the underlying cause of some of these pain points now and hopefully ease some of your worries about the Cloud.
The Cloud – what is it?
Cloud computing is quite simply revolutionary. Being ‘on the Cloud’ refers to the fact that a company’s IT services are delivered over the internet from a provider’s data centre, as opposed to a business needing to run their own IT from locally based servers. It is the future of IT and consists of the latest tools, services, and infrastructure the IT world has to offer.
Traditionally businesses would need to purchase, support, and maintain, (not to mention the often forgotten need to supply power and air cooling too), their own IT hardware and software platforms – a challenging task for a trained IT professional, let alone an individual trying to ‘wing it.’
Nowadays, the Cloud offers a subscription-based model that allows for more flexibility from your IT.
Now we know understand a bit more about it, let us explore the myths around the Cloud further.
The myths of the Cloud
“We won’t achieve any greater value from the cloud than we do from our current IT”
Your IT provider is the natural perfect ally when it comes to migrating and implementing the Cloud in your organisation – but unfortunately, in most cases, that is often where their support stops. Some providers give you due care and attention when onboarding, get your scribble on the contract, then never contact you again – this is negligent and is quite simply not good enough. Understandably, most small to medium sized businesses do not have the technical expertise or resources internally to implement the full breadth & depth of value that cloud services could bring operationally and commercially to the organisation – hence the apprehension that the cloud will be difficult to achieve value from.
Take the flagship cloud platform, Microsoft 365, for example; we commonly find businesses that have adopted the platform to cover initial requirements to host email and perhaps store some documents, but that scratches the surface of the true value the cloud system can bring to your organisation. Without a partner that can get under the skin of your business operations and map technology to, not only solve challenges you may be experiencing, but help drive your team forward – bringing untold levels of productivity, efficiency, and profitability.
“I do not need to back-up my data if we work in the Cloud.”
No matter where your data is stored there is potential for it becoming lost, stolen or corrupt; the unfortunate reality is that there is no way of 100% guaranteeing that this will not happen – irrespective of where your IT operates from.
Human error will always be one of the main reasons a back-up of data, email and systems is necessary. Accidental deletion, poor levels of access control that facilitate a cyber-attack, or simply a lack of end-user knowledge resulting in a click on a malicious email link, are all ways that your users could inadvertently and unknowingly be the cause of your problems resulting in the loss or theft of your data.
From an infrastructure security perspective too, the Cloud, despite its enterprise-grade levels of cyber defences, will not be an entirely impenetrable fortress. Security is only as strong as its weakest link – and unfortunately, in most cases, that will be the human’s interacting with it.
Although, you need not despair – it is entirely possible to back-up your Cloud systems to another totally independent Cloud service, providing you with peace of mind and assurances that your data is protected – whatever might happen. Bear in mind that it can too be more cost effective in backing-up data from your cloud environment, than it is from an on-premise IT environment to the cloud.
“The Cloud is unsafe as my data is no longer in my control in my office.”
It is a common misconception that just because your data is residing on a server within your own premises that it is ‘safe’. In reality it is likely less safe in all cases – not just physically (however unlikely, your premises are likely less secure than a data centre), but digitally. A Cloud infrastructure (and the data centre facility in which it resides) will have in some cases invested considerable sums beyond the reach of larger enterprises, let alone small-medium businesses. The security infrastructure, best practice, and defences will always outweigh those accessible to a singular business – meaning your data (in 99.9% of cases) is more secure in the Cloud, than it is in your building. This being said, it is essential that you back up the Cloud – it is easy for data to get lost in the Cloud due to human error – due to this, most businesses use a ‘no delete’ function that automatically saves important data and information
“A forever subscription service will cost me more in the long-run”
Understandably, switching to a monthly operational expenditure (OpEx) may feel more costly as it is a ‘forever spend’ that needs paying every month – but, if you are following best practices in renewing your equipment, warranties, support, licensing, and keeping up to date with newer versions (while implementing best security practices and maintaining all that infrastructure), ‘traditional IT’ will be more costly.
“I don’t know where my data is, and I have lost all control”
Control – it is essential when it comes to your business data that you have it, without it you can be falling short of your compliance obligations and be in serious trouble should there be a problem. The fear that this brings to the surface is a big reason as to why many do not make the transition to the Cloud at all and miss all it has to offer. If your data is in the Cloud, you do still have control, the likes of Microsoft operate data centres within the UK for UK customers, meaning you can have peace of mind both that your data is not out of your grasp offshore, and that you are compliant to the regulations surrounding the storing of data too – they also state that YOU remain the data owner, they are simply the data handler. Of course, there are some that are not quite as focused on your best interests, we would advise that you always read the small print with any Cloud service, Google for example are less fastidious and (because they are largely funded through their advertising machine) will claim ownership of your data and scan your email & content for their own purposes.
The technical jargon explained
Another cause for apprehension around the Cloud is because of the seemingly foreign language those on it use when talking about it. The technical jargon can be daunting but there really is not much to learn and once you do the benefits will be worth it. We will now break down some of the technical jargon, hopefully making your onboarding conversations with a provider easier to navigate.
SaaS – Software-as-a-Service
Software-as-a-service is the delivery of applications, the storage of data within those applications and – dependent on your provider – the security and back-up of that data too, which applies all over the internet as a contractually paid service. Some of the SaaS options are internationally well-known and are the life blood of many companies, including Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and Zero Accounting. With SaaS you are free of the complex software and hardware management tasks that are either extremely confusing for the less technically able or are unbelievably time consuming.
IaaS – Infrastructure-as-a-Service
Infrastructure-as-a-Service is computing framework that is provided over the internet. Whilst you are free to purchase, install, and configure your own software, your provider will supply and manage the infrastructure it resides on for you on a subscription basis. With IaaS – depending on your technological knowhow – we would recommend you get an IT specialist to assist you in purchasing, installing, configuring, and managing your software, as this is no easy task.
Cloud storage is exactly that – storage. “But I already have storage!” is a common statement. The aim of Cloud storage is to irradicate the large storage and management requirements from individual computers and servers – in the process making them much more fluent and more secure. Your data being ‘saved to the Cloud’ means that your data is stored in remote servers that can be accessed from multiple devices, by anyone with access permissions, from anywhere!
A Cloud application – or Cloud app – is the software you access online instead of installing and accessing it on individual computers (often provided to you in the subscription as SaaS).
Now we have dispelled some of the myths surrounding it, let us take a look at how the Cloud can improve operations in your organisation.
The Cloud – positives in business
Collaboration. With remote working becoming increasingly popular around the world, the Cloud makes it possible to not just mirror but improve on levels of collaboration achieved in the office. The Cloud allows team members – no matter their geographical location – to work simultaneously on the same documents. With the help of applications (such as the increasingly popular Microsoft Teams) communicating from anywhere is also possible. Being able to achieve all this from the comfort of your own home, the office, or even the beach (provided there is an internet connection) makes Cloud computing a worldwide phenomenon.
Scalability. The Cloud allows your organisation – no matter its size – to scale operations up and down in conjunction with the way your business is performing. In the uncertain world we have all been living in for the last year this is a particularly prominent positive of Cloud computing, with most organisations around the world not knowing whether they will be opening this week, next week, next month, or ever again, so having the opportunity to scale their operation has truly been business-defining.
Back up & continuity of business. In the rare event of a business-defining disaster occurring, the Cloud makes it possible to access your data quickly. This, in turn, allows your business to carry on as usual, avoiding the potentially expensive effects of downtime that often follow a disaster.
Reduced cost. The Cloud is cheaper in comparison to traditional IT! The Cloud often saves a lot of money for businesses that implement it as there are no capital investments required to start using it. This, along with the opportunity to expand and flex the amount of storage you have according to the needs of the business at that time, means you are not paying for what you are not using. This is also true for the performance and features of the Cloud plan you are on – if you are not using it, you can change your monthly investments accordingly.
With the right guidance and knowledge, making a transition to Cloud computing will help your organisation thrive. Hopefully, this blog article has eased your concerns regarding the Cloud now that we have dispelled some of the rumours surrounding it.
Promoting trust in the Cloud
We are a Cloud services provider, so we understand the apprehension that many feel before making the leap to Cloud computing. We take the reins when conducting your transition, allowing your company to enjoy the advanced opportunities it has to offer. We are proud to provide top quality services to our customers, preventing business disruption that can be caused by tech problems. Alongside our expertise in Cloud computing, our experienced and knowledgeable team at Apogee Solutions performs proactive monitoring of servers and workstations, fixes problems remotely, and deals with security issues. Get in contact now and see how – with the right tools, and education around their use – you and your team can take your first step into the future of IT.