Observations for SMEs Considering the Cloud
Currently interning with Stateside Solutions I had the opportunity to attend a Cloud Computing seminar organised by the Irish Internet Association and in partnership with Enterprise Ireland on adopting the cloud. The speed at which the IT Landscape is evolving is startling, and for many SMEs overwhelming.
In the simplest of terms Cloud Computing = ability to access data and applications via the internet
Cloud-based computing is changing the way businesses are managing their information, moving it from the traditional in-house IT infrastructure to an external cloud based solution. This provides opportunities and challenges for companies of all sizes. Like the IT revolution cloud computing offers SMEs a range of fantastic benefits and of course some disadvantages.
For the novice I have pulled together some key facts for SMEs considering the cloud in an effort to help them to make better more educated choices about their cloud opportunity.
So why use the Cloud?
- Convenience. You can access your data anywhere you can connect to the internet. For an SME the key here is that your Internet line is it’s not too slow.
- Upgrades are done to the cloud which means little or no downtime for you and your team.
- Questions to ask you Cloud Provider
Address Security Concerns. Security software makes it harder for hackers to get your data, but not impossible. If you’re going to be storing sensitive client information for example patient data, Bank account details, PPS etc ask your cloud provider about security software.
- Ask about Pricing: Cloud products and services are less expensive than traditional server models and are more cost effective for SMEs as the cloud cuts down on IT management costs. However, when choosing systems make sure your company applications and software will work in the cloud. Ask specific questions of your provider and stress test the product. Ensure the Cloud can manage your users and qualify how much data your plan provides.
- Does your Provider have live support? For an SME being able to speak to someone in your time zone is key to running your business effectively. Not having an IT department means you will need to rely more on the support of the Cloud provider. Ask who? Where? And cost? of cloud support.
- What happens if you choose to change Providers? Ask your provider how you will receive your data back if you decide to switch providers, understand the costs and limitations of data migration so you make smart choices from the beginning.
- Backup. You have a backup of your data in case your local computer crashes, but make sure to have a back up just in case the cloud gets struck by lightning and all data is lost.
When it comes to understanding the Cloud and applications associated with it, there is no such thing as a stupid Question. Don’t be intimidated by the verbiage, ask questions and assess the value before committing.