Francois Smith, Dell Enterprise Field Marketing Manager for South Africa
From providing scalability on demand, to empowering the mobility of the workforce, cloud computing offers a host of benefits to both organisations and users. The business case for adopting cloud computing is becoming clear for large organisations, but the path to adoption for SMBs is less clear. I’ve outlined five key considerations for small and medium sized businesses looking to implement a cloud computing infrastructure.
Modern cloud architectures often provide much greater levels of transparency and insight into business performance than some legacy solution stacks; this helps businesses concentrate on core goals and objectives, freeing up time for employees by giving them the information they need, when they need it.
With quicker access to data, organisations are able to react intelligently to changing market conditions helping to attract new customers with fresh offerings and improving customer retention by enhancing the current quality of service ;. The business agility of cloud solutions also enables businesses to work in new geographical regions, taking advantage of different skills and experts that may not have been possible previously.
The agility of cloud is made possible because the solutions being used enable businesses to scale up and down on demand and create virtualized environments on demand.
Storing data in the cloud means that no matter where in the world an employee is located, if they have an Internet connection then they can access their data. Thanks to improved mobility, cloud is helping to transform working practices everywhere. Mobility is not without its security risks, so it is vital that businesses establish policies and systems that govern data access. Setting sensible passwords and changing them regularly is so obvious that it almost goes without saying, but you would be surprised, possibly horrified, if your employees used the word “password” or the key chain “1,2,3,4” as their password, however, these two examples crop up regularly.
With the right security measures in place having business data locked in the cloud is like storing your money in the bank. If you store your data on premise and something catastrophic happens to the physical infrastructure you could lose everything. But cloud offers much greater scope for disaster recovery.
Drive IT as a Service
Giving the IT department an increased role in the day to day running of an organisation means that they become more in tune with what the organisation needs from the IT network, and how they need it to operate, thus making more business sense as the team can provide users with the software they require to conduct their jobs effectively.
The flexibility of cloud solutions means IT departments can quickly turn services that employees need on or off, this minimises up-front investment and massively reduces the time it takes for a business to embrace new solutions as they come to market. Rolling out new software can also be performed remotely, making the prospect of updates, and new software installs on the network simpler for everyone, particularly the IT department.
Because cloud services are remote and accessed using an Internet connection rather than being on premise, there is a fairly common misconception that data is somehow less secure, however, as noted previously with sensible access rights and policies in place, data in the cloud is just as secure as that stored on site.
Many organisations fear that they do not have control of their corporate data when it is stored off premise, however, the beauty of cloud is that it provides excellent control, and unauthorised end points can be blocked from accessing data by IT departments, allowing them to be comprehensive in their approach to data protection regulations.
Furthermore, by working in the cloud, organisations can benefit from receiving the latest security software updates, installed across the infrastructure at the click of a button. Patches can be automatically applied to all users leaving nothing to chance. This can give organisations peace of mind. Manual error, more often than not, is the root cause of a security breach, cloud enables businesses to minimise human error through automation.
When organisations that do not use cloud solutions allow employees to work remotely, data can be put at risk from the potential threat of loss or theft if data is stored on peripheral devices, on the access point itself or even when the data is stored in the datacentre. By working in the cloud, a direct secure Internet link can be established that allows for data to be transported directly, eliminating such risks.
If you feel that you do not have the skill set required within your organisation to correctly implement a sound security strategy, there are a number of specialists available who will be able to secure the network for you. These security specialists have the knowledge to provide complete security solutions, from BYOD to email security. These offerings make cloud security much easier for IT departments to work with, by having the complete security solution in one place, running off one platform, organisations can spend less time worrying about the security of their data, as they will be confident that their data is secured against all threats.
Focus on Your Core Business
Cloud’s chief connecting benefit is that enables businesses to concentrate on core tasks rather than worrying about IT. Cloud enables businesses to scale quickly, to embrace new solutions, to have secure access to data and to use that data intelligently.
There are challenges with cloud and there is understandable inertia as businesses (and individuals) want to stick with familiar operational patterns. In all likelihood businesses will embrace cloud solutions through a process of osmosis – sometimes individuals within a business will drive the adoption, sometimes IT departments will drive it. Wholesale change and adoption is not likely nor is it sensible, but cloud’s agility and flexibility means businesses can adopt cloud as and when they see fit without disruption.
The most important factor to remember is that there is help available for those who may feel that they are not confident enough to undertake such a project single single-handedly. By working with a trusted and approved partner, it is possible to build the perfect cloud computing infrastructure, based on what competencies are needed by the organisation.