We regularly chat with business owners and individuals who want to “move everything to the cloud.” What does that mean, and how would it impact your business? There are a variety of pros and cons to consider. This article will provide an easy-to-understand start when thinking about cloud services.
Think of the Cloud as the Internet
When you visit Google or Amazon or any other website, you are utilizing “the cloud.” If you want to see some content or purchase a product, you can use your computer or mobile device connected to the Internet. The convenience is amazing! You can pay taxes, renew your automobile registration, deposit checks to your bank account and so much more with a few clicks.
“Cloud services” are the same for businesses. You should clearly define what you want to “move to the cloud:”
Businesses have traditionally maintained in-house servers for important functions. These include email, running their business software, file sharing and more. Depending upon your industry and specific vendors, many applications are available more reliably, with easier access and for a lower price in the cloud! Howard Tech utilizes the cloud for email (Office 365), payroll (Intuit), phone system (RingCentral) and our ticketing platform (ConnectWise). These apps are not running in our office, saving us some combination of hassle, time and money. If you are a QuickBooks customer, we know of many clients running QuickBooks online with great success. We are huge fans of cloud applications and can work with you to consider options.
Some companies today are moving their desktops and servers to the cloud replacing in-house computers with “thin clients.” These devices have a monitor, keyboard and mouse; but no operating systems, files, or data as you’d expect with a PC. The user sees a Windows desktop on his screen; however the operating system, files or applications actually reside on a computer in the cloud. This solution works well for companies that are virtual or there is no office where the team goes to each day. Files, applications and data can be centralized, even though the team may be all over the world.
On the other hand, we have some significant challenges with moving infrastructure to the cloud when the staff typically works together in a physical office. The biggest concern is desktop performance, as the user session must now utilize the Internet to look at everything. Other considerations include costs, control, data security and disaster recovery plans.
If you’re thinking of moving applications to the cloud, this is a vendor or functional specific thing where you’ll likely have many options. If you’re considering moving your hardware systems out of your office, there will be other factors to evaluate. Either way, the Howard Tech team has tremendous cloud experience and will gladly discuss your circumstances with you.