These days, most businesses are using cloud computing to some extent. Whether it’s a cloud based email system, file sharing via DropBox, or a full cloud infrastructure, it’s rare to find a company that isn’t using cloud in some way, shape or form. That said, businesses that still haven’t fully migrated to the cloud will be weighing up the pros and cons of moving to the cloud, so here’s our handy guide to give you a few pointers and some food for thought...
The pros of cloud computing
We’re not gonna lie, cloud computing brings more pros than it does cons, so here are the main advantages we think would be beneficial for an SME looking at moving to the cloud.
Improved disaster recovery
When you’re running an on-premise IT solution, you need to think about how long it would take you to get back up and running if your offices were rendered out of action. This could happen for any reason - fire, flood, theft, power outages… it could even be something as mundane as lost office keys, or something as far fetched as a global pandemic. What the last few weeks have taught us, as we learn to adjust to working around the challenges of Covid-19, is to expect the unexpected and design our Business Continuity Plans (BCP) accordingly.
Cloud gives you instant disaster recovery simply because it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Businesses that were already fully migrated to the cloud experienced minimal disruption when Covid-19 reached the UK, sending employees to work from home just as easily as they could have worked from the office. Think carefully about the contingencies you need to make, considering which aspects of your company data are critical and who your key workers are. You can add extra layers of resilience by implementing Active-Active cloud architecture which introduces automatic failovers should your primary cloud environment fail or experience an outage.
Cloud based IT requires no infrastructure investment and is usually costed on a monthly basis. This means that you pay per user / per month; or per server / per month and what this essentially does, is turn your IT investment from a CapEx to an OpEx model. Your cloud servers are owned, managed and maintained by your cloud provider so there’s no need to cough up for any server hardware upfront, flattening the spending curve and making budgeting for IT spend far easier to manage for many companies. Cloud systems are also agile and scalable, meaning you only pay for what you need at any given time, and can scale up and down quickly as demand dictates.
We’re putting this one in both the pros and the cons list, and here’s why. When you move your data to the cloud, you’re moving it to somebody else’s servers. These servers will sit in a data centre. Depending on which provider you choose, the level and layers of security will vary, but data centres are some of the most secure buildings on the planet. Think secure perimeter fences, biometric access controls, infra-red trip wires, mantraps, tremor sensors…. Now think about the security at your office (where your on-premise servers are likely to be sat.) Can you say the same about your office security as we can boast about our data centre?
The cons of cloud computing
Ok, so let’s start this section where we left off with the last…. Data centre security is all well and good, but you need to make sure that your provider meets your demands. Below par, and you could be looking at outages and failure to meet data protection legislation. Over-egg it, and you could be paying through the nose for a level of infrastructure that you don’t need. Look into the tier classification of the data centre where your cloud solution is going to be hosted, and take a look at our free download - 10 questions you should be asking your cloud provider - for more help on how to make sure your solution meets your requirements.
You also need to remember that once you move to the cloud not only are you beholden to somebody else’s security, but you have a loss of visibility and control, because it isn’t your network. So you need to make sure that not only is the system technically right for your requirements, but your chosen cloud partner is a company that you can trust, that can support you through your cloud journey and help you with any challenges you encounter along the way.
As we’ve mentioned, the great thing about cloud computing is that users can work from anywhere with an internet connection. However this can also be its downfall. If you experience an internet outage, you lose connectivity to your infrastructure. Of course, this challenge is usually easily overcome, as you can simply move your workers to where the internet is…. Send them to work from home, from the local Starbucks, or even consider workplace recovery for business critical employees. You can learn more about workplace recovery and what that can offer your business from a BCP perspective, here.
Cloud solutions are capable of protecting against and dealing with a potential catastrophe, but it’s important to know exactly what plans are in place and how the measures taken will cope. Cloud security, data management and cloud availability must be taken into account as part of a modern cloud strategy.
What are the pros of cloud computing?
- Capital cost converts to a running cost, meaning little or no upfront investment.
- Pay as you go model.
- Scalable and agile.
- The cloud service provider (CSP) manages the infrastructure, including servers, storage and network elements, reducing the cost of management. This also gives you less control, however, and makes support a critical factor for consideration.
What are the cons of cloud computing?
- Security and privacy are out of your hands. You need to make sure your cloud solution meets your requirements. This is equally true of compliance.
- Dependant on somebody else’s infrastructure and connectivity.
- Loss of control and visibility due to no network ownership.
To find out more about how cloud computing could benefit your business, why not talk to one of our cloud experts on 0161 498 1200.