Cloud Technology – What Is It and What Can It Do for Your Business?  

Tech is transforming the planet at an increasingly swift rate, allowing teams around the world to achieve degrees of collaboration, communication, and productivity that were hard to imagine even as little as ten years ago. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses turned towards cloud technology to enable them to work from home, using solutions such as Microsoft 365.  

The Cloud is the element that makes remote working possible. When businesses consider adopting cloud technologies, they are aware of the potential benefits but can be daunted by the uncertainty or lack of knowledge about how it works and therefore how it could impact their business.  

In the first of two articles, we will walk you through cloud computing and the myths that surround its use that often discourage its adoption. In our next piece, we will simplify some of the key technical jargon that professionals use when referring to it, and elucidate the benefits that businesses can reap from their cloud technology, enabling you to understand cloud computing and how it can be implemented to benefit your business.  

What is the Cloud? 

Cloud computing is a series of platforms, services and infrastructure that enable digital services to be delivered via the internet, via data centres that host and process their information securely. A key potential of cloud computing is that it allows businesses to outsource IT functions, such as server capacity, to other providers without losing easy access to the data and services it’s hosting.  

In the past, businesses had to manage their IT resources as a solo enterprise, where they would purchase, support and manage their own IT hardware and software platforms on their premises. This could lead to downtimes, inefficiencies and an oftentimes complicated and fragmented IT infrastructure that disempowered businesses from streamlining and optimising their workflows and systems to create more value and growth. This could be an expensive, frustrating and time-consuming set up to operate from, but with the cloud, many of these problems are surmountable. 

By outsourcing servers and data storage to an outside provider specialising in offering this service, businesses save time and money on acquiring and maintaining hardware and pay for what they are using with the cloud server provider and scale it rapidly. In terms of applications, these can also be migrated securely to the cloud, and many software services are now offered via the cloud as Software as a Service (SaaS). With an internet connection, businesses can increasingly plug-in and play to the cloud to deliver their services, whilst outsourcing technical complexities in a highly cost-efficient way.  

So what myths about the cloud are discouraging its adoption by those who could benefit from it?  

Cloud myths – Debunked 

“Value isn’t guaranteed when using Cloud Computing, so why would I bother?” 

This myth could be true, insofar as the options and benefits have been examined in detail and have been left wanting.  

There are many providers out there that will helpfully get you onboard and be supportive in that process, who then lose interest when it comes to providing genuine ongoing support into the future. This is wrong, it is unfair to sell a solution to someone who cannot see its full-value potential, so the provider should make it clear where that potential for value is, how it can be realised, and give an estimate of the scope of quantifiable benefits on offer.  

A widely embraced cloud-based solution that offers clear value to many organisations, is the Microsoft 365 platform. It offers a range of familiar tools to businesses, with extended features such as live document collaboration, intelligent AI suggestions that speed up and enhance task completion, and an integrated interface that enables seamless switching between different tasks.  

The saved time, improved quality of work and collaboration, and smart-searching features, alongside its flexible and fast scalability, offers a clear enough case for many businesses to adopt it. The principle is clear though, your IT partner should take their time to give a tailored assessment for your organisation, outline the benefits clearly, answer your questions, and then make a smooth implementation plan and provide onboarding and ongoing support. With this process, deriving profitable value from the cloud is assured.  

“Is it important to back-up my data if we work in the Cloud?” 

Yes, but with the caveat that regardless of your technology solution, having backups and contingencies is important. In the cloud’s case, creating and accessing backups is made much easier, though we would stress having multiple regular backups elsewhere offers the only assured backup solution. Overall though, storing, backing up and recovering data is typically easier with cloud services providers.   

Cloud computing providers tend to provide protective measures as standard, such as robust data encryption and real time updating documents with recoverable version histories. There is not a particular reason to fear for your backups on the cloud, but it’s important to take fail-proof backup measures regardless of the platforms you are using to store your data.  

“My data is missing, and I don’t know where it has gone” 

It is very important to know where your data is being stored and thus to have control and oversight of it, as there can be legal, reputational and financial consequences to not protecting your data.  

Cloud hosting providers are well aware of this crucial requirement and are also subject to it themselves. Alongside providers implementing measures to keep their cloud platforms secure, you can ask also them where they are storing your data if you are in doubt or can’t seem to find it, and they should be able to find it for you.  

But, as we said earlier, not all Cloud providers are as they seem. Some aren’t interested in the value they can offer to you; they want your money and don’t care about your success. So it is important to ask about ongoing maintenance and support with potential providers, and to ensure these needs are enshrined in a contract to ensure peace of mind.  

Therefore, it is essential that you read your contract carefully, as some have clauses that allow your provider to scan your data and carry out all sorts of other actions, so it is best to be careful rather than sorry. 

We Are 4TC Managed IT Services 

4TC can support you with all the services you need to run your business effectively, from email and domain hosting to fully managing your whole IT infrastructure. 

Setting up a great IT infrastructure is just the first step. Keeping it up to date, safe and performing at its peak requires consistent attention. 

We can act as either your IT department or to supplement an existing IT department. We pride ourselves in developing long term relationships that add value to your business with high quality managed support, expert strategic advice, and professional project management.