Guest Column

If everyone else jumps into a cloud, would you?

April 27, 2018
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In the first West Michigan IT Report, Worksighted anonymously surveyed a diverse cross section of IT leaders from dozens of local manufacturers, professional services firms, nonprofits, retailers and others. In addition to taking a pulse on business growth, the survey focused on five prevailing IT topics: security, spending, cloud, business continuity and future trends.

In the April 13 issue, we discussed security. Now, we want to dive into the cloud.

The survey

The survey asked questions such as:

  • What percentage of your IT is hosted on the cloud?
  • What cloud services do you plan to invest in this year?
  • What cloud services does your business depend on?

The takeaway

Almost 73 percent of West Michigan businesses plan to grow their cloud services in 2018, with over 20 percent planning to invest in productivity solutions, online backups and application hosting.

Things to know before jumping into the cloud

With so many companies jumping into the cloud, you may be considering migrating all or some of your business. However, you should consider some factors before you take the leap.

1. External control: When you switch to a cloud platform, you’re essentially moving your information out of your building and putting it into someone else’s building. That’s right, all cloud storage “lives” somewhere brick and mortar and the key to your information is the internet. Having reliable internet and a trustworthy, credible cloud host are critical to your cloud-based business. Choosing a dependable internet service with large bandwidth, like fiber options, can be the difference between cloud success and cloud mishaps.

2. Network visibility: Think of the internet as a highway. It has limited lanes to get drivers where they need to go. From music streaming to emails, information is constantly traveling up and down the highway. With on-site storage, your information travels on a different highway altogether, creating a direct route to your machines. With cloud storage, your information travels on the same highway as music streaming, video chats and emails. All that traffic can cause backups and accidents. How do you fix it? Give the cloud a fast lane. With the proper equipment, your IT team or managed service provider can monitor your network, setting priorities for your internet.

3. Pricing: Oftentimes, people assume that cloud options will be less expensive than hosting your own information on-site. This is true, sometimes. Cloud services tend to have a lower up-front cost, making them ideal for small businesses and startups. However, for very large businesses, cloud expenses can add up quickly. Make sure to research all your options before jumping in.

Why use the cloud then?
So why then are 73 percent of West Michigan businesses growing their cloud services? The data show surveyed businesses are growing their cloud participation in three primary areas: productivity, online backups and hosting. Here’s why it could be a viable solution for your company.

1. Productivity: Switching to a cloud-based platform can enable your employees to access the same data from anywhere, at any time, on any device. But having your employees in separate buildings can come at a cost; companies may worry about loss of productivity, collaboration and effective communication. Cloud-based applications can address these concerns with seamless communication through video calls, messaging options and simultaneous revisions of documents.

2. Online backups: In my last article, I discussed the importance of backing up your information. The industry standard is the 3-2-1 rule: meaning store three copies of your data, in at least two different platforms and make sure at least one is off-site. Having at least one of your backups on the cloud could save your company from a natural disaster like a fire or a flood.

3. Elasticity: The cloud is great for hosting your platform subscriptions. Cloud-based subscriptions can grow (or shrink) per user, meaning you’re only paying for what you use. Being able to update through the cloud means seamlessly adding or subtracting subscriptions based on company needs.

So what does this all mean? The cloud could be a good fit for your business, but make sure you or your managed IT service provider have looked into all the factors before taking the leap.

Matt Maines is chief technology evangelist at Worksighted.

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