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“The cloud” is frequently referenced when discussing the future of technology, since it offers most any company — including small businesses — enterprise-level technology at an affordable rate. But the truth is, the cloud is no longer a future trend; it’s a dominant force.
Switching from a traditional IT setting with lots of on-site servers to cloud storage technology is seen as an easy choice for many, but it comes with advantages and disadvantages. When trying to justify cloud computing to your company’s leadership, you may be met with some misconceptions from those early days of cloud technology, so we’re going to set things straight.
Here’s an overview of six of the top pros and cons of using cloud applications that are relevant to any business today:
Those who aren’t tech savvy might ask, “What is cloud computing?” In a cloud computing environment, data is stored and maintained through an online platform. Instead of storing digital files on a hard drive or paper documents in a file cabinet, those files are accessible through a secure online platform anywhere an internet connection is available.
Because of this, an application can be accessed in nearly any region across the world with just a few clicks using any internet-connected device. When you store data in the cloud, it can even help with recruiting efforts by opening up a pool of potential employees outside your area, allowing them to work remotely. In light of recent global events and millions of workers being forced to work from home, the cloud has become more critical than ever.
Other major advantages of cloud computing are demonstrated in how it helps increase user access, boosts employee collaboration and productivity, and dramatically cuts down on wasted time spent searching for files. Within the cloud, work is streamlined and employees are no longer limited by a physical network.
One of the most significant benefits of cloud computing is the cost savings that comes with migrating to a cloud solution. In fact, for small to medium-sized businesses, cloud computing is up to 40 times more cost-effective than a traditional in-house IT system.
Instead of investing heavily in servers and data centers, cloud users only pay for computing services they consume, eliminating unnecessary costs. Plus, they can easily scale if they need more data storage space. In fact, storage capacity is practically limitless. Cloud solutions also require less in-office IT equipment and are more energy-efficient than traditional software.
Because of networked backups in the cloud, hardware failures do not lead to data loss. The virtual server used in cloud computing is also hardware-independent, so the operating system, applications and data can be safely and accurately transferred from one data center to another. This significantly reduces recovery times compared to traditional disaster recovery approaches, which require multiple servers to be loaded before data can be restored.
While listed under the “cons,” it’s all a matter of context and could be considered a “pro” depending on your current cybersecurity protocols. Security and protection against data breaches often top the list of business owners’ main concerns about switching over to the cloud. By leveraging remote cloud-based services, a company is essentially outsourcing their data, so they are trusting their provider to effectively manage and safeguard their data.
When considering a cloud services provider, exercise due diligence and select a trusted, experienced and reliable provider of cloud computing services with a proven track record of data protection.
Some are not aware that there are different types of cloud computing services. Many cloud experts believe that trusted cloud data centers, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, have better security than an in-house data center, so security risks of cloud computing are really contingent upon the reliability of the provider. Users can also choose from public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid offerings, depending on their security needs, which is another important factor to consider in order to optimize security.
Limited control is generally not a huge issue with cloud services, but it is a potential disadvantage that should be taken into account. When a business moves over to the cloud, users have limited control over the function of their hosting infrastructure.
They are still able to control and manage applications, data and services, but not the back-end infrastructure or technical issues – a big change for companies accustomed to a traditional IT system. Some businesses see this as a benefit of cloud computing, however, since this frees up the IT department to focus on other projects.
While cloud service providers take many measures to prevent service outages, nobody can be 100% immune. Cloud computing is internet-based, so it can only be utilized with a solid internet connection. If the connection is disturbed or unavailable, the cloud cannot be accessed, leading to possible downtime.
This is another reason why it is imperative to choose a reliable cloud services provider with good customer service, because even if an outage occurs, you can be sure your provider will resolve the problem as soon as possible. With the right provider, cloud computing is still much more reliable and consistent than in-house IT infrastructure.
Many experts believe cloud computing’s advantages outweigh its disadvantages and that, oftentimes, the disadvantages can be mitigated or avoided altogether. Still, it is always important to consider all your options when deciding which IT system – traditional, cloud-based or both – is right for your business. It might also be a good time to consider how your entire approach to technology might benefit from a shift to managed services, including cloud computing.
A side-by-side comparison of the cloud vs in-house IT might help narrow down your decision even further, so download our guide outlining the differences between Traditional IT vs. Managed IT. If you have questions about how your organization could benefit from an outsourced solution using cloud computing, contact the experts at Elevity today!