"The cloud" has become a ubiquitous buzzword when it comes to technology. But how can cloud technology help your business meet your specific goals, within your budget?
The good news is that technology has matured to the point where the question is no longer whether there are cloud solutions your company could be using. Instead, the question is now which cloud solutions fit your needs and your budget. When answering this question, we recommend that companies keep these three things in mind:
1. What the Cloud Can Replace
When people talk about cloud solutions for business, they're usually referring to products that replace certain roles that on-premise servers have traditionally filled. One such role is file hosting, which cloud solutions like Box can now handle. Another is Exchange and/or simple email hosting.
And yet another is application hosting for the software your business relies on. Some businesses move applications to the cloud by paying for a fully virtual server in a data center, which they use to host the application. Others choose to move from traditional in-house applications to SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions that are already in the cloud, like the SalesForce and Zoho cloud-based CRMs. In the medical field, some practices are even utilizing fully cloud-based EHR applications, like HealthFusion. Businesses find in some cases that these SaaS solutions fit their needs even better than traditional, locally hosted applications.
2. What the Cloud Can't (Easily) Replace
Apart from serving as a platform for the data and software that help your business run, servers have also traditionally acted as a central nervous system for all of the devices in your office, performing key administrative functions like pushing out security updates, patches, and policies to computer workstations. Furthermore, even when cloud solutions are implemented for file storage, it's always nice to have a server on hand in the event that you need to store a particularly large file. So, depending on your business and your needs, it may not be in your best interest to throw out the on-premise server just yet.
3. Balancing the Budget
Are cloud solutions always better than traditional on-premise solutions? It depends. Leaving the question of functionality aside for the moment, this decision usually comes down to the company's budgeting needs and size.
Cloud solutions usually involve a monthly operating expense, as opposed to a one-time capital expense. If your company is interested in minimizing immediate expenses in favor of incremental monthly expenses, cloud solutions can help with that. However, depending on your company's size, you may end up spending much more in the long run with cloud solutions. If these cloud solutions allow your business to streamline your workflow or open up new opportunities for collaboration and connection, they may still be worth the cost. As always, though, it depends on your goals, your workflow, and your budget.
Above all, it's best to take a holistic look at your company's systems in order to decide strategically which cloud solutions can help you achieve your goals, and which ones can't. If any of this sparks questions for you, or if you'd like to talk through what the cloud can do for your business, don't hesitate to give us a shout!