Silver lining or stormy weather?

What do you think of when you imagine 'the cloud'?  Do you envisage data floating about aimlessly in the ether or zipping along fibre lines endlessly looping the planet?

When you opt to use the cloud instead of on-premise servers, what you're actually doing is renting a teeny weeny bit of space in a massive data centre somewhere in the world. These data centres are unbelievably large and the investment the cloud service providers (CSPs) are making is eye-watering. What, for your business, is an operational expenditure is a massive capital expenditure for the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. These companies are committed to the cloud and are investing billions and billions of dollars in it. Controlling their costs is driving innovation in the IT sector and nothing is immune.

For example, Facebook's Open Compute Project means that engineers are openly sharing hardware designs (which has the hardware industry in turmoil). The energy consumed by the cloud has Microsoft testing the feasibility of underwater data centres because putting them on the seabed helps to cool them and potentially gives access to alternative energy sources such as solar, wave and wind. Google shared its own software model for energy efficiency in 2014. It's a very exciting time in the industry.

So what are the advantages of cloud services for you?

From a financial point of view more of your IT budget becomes an operational expenditure. It's very scaleable. Having your data in the cloud means you and your team can access it from anywhere. You don't have to worry about server hardware breaking down or wearing out and because you're buying licences to operate in the cloud you'll always be using the most up-to-date versions of whatever you're paying for.

But cloud services are only fantastic if you can have fast, uninterrupted and secure access to them. If you're expecting your existing Internet connection to handle the traffic from all your office's laptops, PCs, tablets and smartphones you're in for a bumpy ride.  You'll be tearing your hair out in no time and your staff (and therefore your business) will suffer. Switching from on-premise needs careful consideration and it may be that a hybrid solution is best for you. There are also business continuity and security considerations to take into account.

We think the cloud is great. It's exciting and, if it's not already part of your company's present, it's almost certainly part of its future. Come and talk to us and we'll show you how.

Posted by Kirsty McIntosh on Sunday, March 13, 2016

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