Resources > A Helpful Cloud Computing Guide for Small Businesses

A Helpful Cloud Computing Guide for Small Businesses

Cloud Computing

The Cloud is everywhere. It is rapidly becoming the norm to see a form of cloud computing established in businesses throughout the UK, no matter their size or sector. This Internet-based computing solution provides users and companies the ability to store, process and utilise their data in a way far removed from methods in place just a decade ago.

However, many small business owners remain apprehensive about the capabilities, reliability and security that cloud computing offers them. The concept of core business data and resources for your business, from customer details to financial information, being kept in a location separate from your headquarters can be a daunting one. The legacy of significant security breaches such as the infamous celebrity picture leaks have raised concerns for business owners considering the pursuit of these services.

But, as we enter 2017, if your business isn’t considering employing the Cloud then you’re missing a trick. Below, we outline what the Cloud is, how it can benefit your business, and how Method can deliver a package to suit your needs.

What is the Cloud?

Let’s start from the beginning – what is the Cloud? While many are aware of this service, many don’t understand what it actually does. Simply put, the Cloud offers individuals and enterprises an online storage for their data outside of their onsite facilities. Instead of storing your information on a hard drive at your premises, it is kept on the Internet.

Popular examples of cloud computing that you may be familiar with are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure through to Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Apple iCloud and Dropbox. Services such as these make it possible to keep a significant amount of your personal and business’ information on remote servers maintained by somebody else, and therefore not taking up space in your local hardware.

How can it benefit my business?

Migrating your business onto the Cloud has several benefits that would be extremely costly and challenging to replicate with local storage. These include our 4 Cs:

Convenience

With the amount of information required to keep safe for business owners, it is important to have a solution system that works to your needs. The Cloud is an incredibly flexible tool for this purpose.

Let’s say for example your business experiences an influx in customers, leading to a need for more staff and technology to compensate. As most Cloud providers operate on a pay-as-you go basis, you can easily alter the amount of computing power and storage you require to cope with demand. A process that before the Cloud would take weeks and months of forward-planning has now become far simpler to procure and remedy.

Speaking of pay-as-you-go…

Cost-Effective

As highlighted in the previous section, the normal pay-as-you-go model means that you only pay for the computing power that you require.  No more, no less. This price can be determined based on:

  • The amount of time you need to use it
  • The amount of memory consumed per hour
  • The number of users/amount of storage required

Whereas if you were to stick with local computing devices, expenditure would far exceed this, both in terms of the cost of initial hardware purchase together with the time taken to install these in your location.

Competitive Edge

Today, the possibility of small businesses to compete with the biggest names in their industry is far greater than ever before due to technological innovations like the Cloud. The service benefits business agility, allowing companies to seamlessly update their technology, capacity and data without the time limitations of onsite computing. This allows for business to be far more agile in times of change in the market or circumstances that impact your business.

Furthermore, it allows you to take your business on the move with you. Whether it is on a laptop, tablet or phone, having your business’ data on the Cloud means it can be accessed from anywhere, provided you are connected to the Internet. Plus, it means you and your staff can actively work away from the office, benefitting those that find it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Collaboration

On the flip side of competitiveness, the Cloud is also an effective tool for collaboration. In a global business network, this online storage facility makes it much easier for owners to work with colleagues and customers overseas. This is excellent for small businesses, as the limitations of time and cost to interact with companies abroad are wiped away.

The sophistication of Cloud-based file sharing and workflow applications means they can be accessed on any device, meaning you can always be at work and can send it effortlessly across the globe.

Is it safe?

Last year, more than 68 million Dropbox customers’ users and passwords were leaked online after a four-year hack. News articles like this are understandably going to deter business owners from pursuing Cloud services. In actuality, these services are far safer than tabloids will have you believe, and in most cases safer than onsite computing, when configured correctly.

Ask yourself, if you were to lose your laptop tomorrow or your hard drive was wiped out, what would happen to your business? This could equate to millions of pounds worth of information that is now gone forever. Alternatively, Cloud providers at least match the data security standards of your industry, and the information can be remotely accessed, backed-up and deleted quickly if breached. All around, the Cloud is becoming the safer option for your business.

What cloud options are available for my business?

Now you know the benefits the Cloud can bring to your business, you may be wondering how to put them into action. Fortunately, Method is here to help you take this all-important step.

The possibilities are endless for what the Cloud can do for your business, which is why we take the time to assess your needs and deliver a bespoke package to suit them. This could mean:

  • Private Cloud – this model provides a dedicated discreet infrastructure for your business, accessible only by your organisation for greater control and privacy. This can be integrated into your business model for make the most of your various functions/demand.
  • Public Cloud – most suited to companies with a high volume of users or visitors to their website, or specific short term intense computing requirements, this model offers seamless response to fluctuations in activity and availability in any location.
  • Hybrid Cloud – taking elements of both the Private and Public Cloud services, this model gives you the flexibility to rent computing power and hardware at competitive rates, considerably reducing your costs.

If you would like to discuss the ideal Cloud solution for your business, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices in Southend, Chelmsford and London.

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