Today’s businesses require larger and larger computing infrastructures. At the same time, companies are looking to smart-size and trim overhead. Since the early 2010s, the new option of cloud computing has allowed businesses to scale down their computer arsenals and handle more tasks online. The benefits of cloud computing help both large business operations and smaller business processes.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a type of on-demand computing service where a third-party provider manages your company’s software and storage. With cloud computing, you can outsource vital computing tasks and minimize the size of your in-house operations. There are three basic types of cloud computing services available for today’s businesses:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a cloud service model where an entire business computing infrastructure is handled remotely at the server end. IaaS is an ideal option for any large company that wishes to smart-size its in-house staff departments and outsource IT tasks to an offsite third party. IaaS is also the preferred choice of smaller businesses that wish to keep their in-house computer arsenals to a minimum and save money on IT-related costs.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud service model where a third-party cloud server manages a company’s computing platform remotely. With PaaS, the server handles various aspects of a computer platform, including networks, servers, operating systems, software, middleware and more. PaaS is ideal for businesses of all sizes that wish to trim or eliminate their in-house computing platforms.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Software as a Service (SaaS) is a cloud computing model where you can subscribe to a software program and have it operate on a third-party server. SaaS is a good option for any company that wishes to minimize its in-house computer network and avoid the technical aspects of software maintenance. With SaaS, you never have to take time out for software updates or to synchronize various in-house devices for compatibility because all updates are universally adaptable and pre-tested for bugs.
You can further modify the aforementioned computing services by choosing between three basic types of cloud models:
- Public: With a public cloud model, a third-party provider handles all of your cloud services. As a subscriber business, your company would pay for the service on a month-by-month or year-by-year basis, scaling up and scaling down as necessary.
- Private: With a private cloud model, you would build your own cloud with the help of a software program. You would control the cloud and therefore be responsible for the programming, maintenance, upgrades and software installations.
- Hybrid: In a hybrid cloud model, your operations would be split between a public and a private computing model. The hybrid model option is one of the most significant benefits of cloud computing for small businesses that need to adjust slowly to online operations.
A company could easily switch from one cloud model to another during the course of its development.
The Challenges of Using the Cloud
The business benefits of cloud computing are numerous, but challenges could arise if you do not carefully navigate the transition process. Here are 12 common hurdles you could encounter when you transition to cloud computing.
1. The Learning Curve
When you first make the switch to cloud computing, it can be difficult to adjust your business infrastructure to this virtual realm unless you go with a platform-as-a-service (PaaS). With PaaS, your involvement is prescriptive and therefore something you can scale up or down and roll out at your own discretion. This way, your business can implement process changes as you are ready for the changes throughout the PaaS transition.
2. Bumpy Transitioning
Adapting to a cloud-based infrastructure involves a period of transition. If you have a large workforce with differing tech skills across departments, or a smaller team with varying levels of abilities, certain segments of your workforce might have difficulty switching to cloud-based processes. Therefore, you might need to retrain your staff and prepare for larger training or workflow challenges, especially if your company is giant and micro-compartmentalized. A smaller company might navigate the transition more quickly because you can potentially train all staff on the new processes and procedures at the same time and move through any points of confusion faster.
3. Uncertainty About Your Needs
To fully assimilate to a cloud-based infrastructure, you will need to have a clearly defined business objective. If you sign on for a cloud service, it will change your business operations. Therefore, you must be determined to actively engage your business in the migration process. At the same time, you should choose a service that will help your company navigate the process of migration.
4. Trust Issues
If you are new to the cloud, you might have reservations about its structure. Will it be safe and secure? Will your workforce be able to adapt when all is said and done? Will the cloud provider be able to maintain its uptime and provide technical support when necessary? In 2019, the answer to these questions is yes, providing you choose a reliable service.
5. Time, Volume and Security
For companies that are long-entrenched in the formats of paper documents and local hard discs, the concept of having everything digitized and remotely accessible can seem daunting and riddled with security issues. However, the benefits will be tenfold in terms of the space you will save once you have moved your business to a secure cloud server. You can cut down on the volume of physical file storage and save time finding and accessing files when and where you need them. For a small business, this accessibility increases your capabilities, and for larger businesses, this also streamlines processes across entire teams and increases your employee’s abilities to get things done.
6. Going Overboard
When you first make the switch to a cloud-based business infrastructure, it is important to only make as many moves as your company can handle at a time. If you go full-transition on day one, the change could be confusing and cost you buy-in — especially if you have a large team with varying degrees of tech knowledge.
7. Sufficient Space and Backup
If your company comes to rely exclusively on cloud computing, you will need to rearrange your workspace to accommodate this new setup. Depending on the size of your company, this might entail having access to several ISPs and sufficient redundancy, both remote and local, for backup in the event of a mass outage. You will need to restructure your budget to cover these fail-safes.
8. Miscalculated Costs
Some companies miscalculate upcoming business costs in advance of a major change. The common mistake is to look at things from a cent-per-service model without considering how this could multiply over the course of a month or year. A safer way to determine costs and benefit from the switch is to take stock of your least-used in-house services and possibly subtract them from the list of services you migrate to a cloud server. Moving only certain parts of a business to the cloud, like email, can benefit smaller companies that might only have one office. Moving the entire business to the cloud can help larger companies that have employees that travel frequently or work in many different locations.
9. Radical Modifications for a Cloud Service
If you radically restructure things to conform to a cloud service, it could be a case of too much change with too little preparation or foresight. On the other hand, if you are unwilling to adopt any aspect of your business to accommodate the cloud-based model, you could end up missing out on the benefits of making such changes. The solution is to adopt modestly at a slow but steady pace.
10. Security Assurance in a Cloud Setting
If you have concerns about the security of a cloud server, you can always hire a third-party analytics firm to examine the server’s security. The firm could then offer reports on the degree to which the server is foolproof. This way, you can judge if you are making a safe choice when you subscribe your company to a cloud server.
11. Leasing vs. Owning
If you are ready to move your computing infrastructure to a cloud server, you should compare the benefits of leasing versus acquiring. If you subscribe to a cloud at a fully leased rate, the costs could be higher in the long run than if you simply acquire and finance the storage. Granted, leasing makes it faster and easier to implement cloud, but it could be more cost-effective to acquire.
12. Considering a Hybrid System as You Transfer
When you move your company computing to a cloud server, the lengthiest task will involve transferring your company records. The task could be especially cumbersome if your records are long and yet not even cloud-ready. As you embark on this task, you should have an interim plan to ensure your company runs smoothly until the records are fully cloud-based. Consider implementing a hybrid system to navigate the lengthy transition between local and cloud-based computing.
Why Businesses Should Make the Switch
Although some companies are wary of using the cloud, the benefits of cloud computing far outweigh the risks, especially when working with an IT company like PCS to make the switch. Businesses of all sizes can save money and trim overhead when they sign onto a cloud server. Here are nine advantages of cloud computing for business operations.
1. Scale Up and Down
If your company engages in online commerce, the fluctuations in traffic might be hard to accommodate if you run everything in-house on local system software. When you run your businesses operations via cloud-based system software, it could be a whole lot easier for your team to scale up and down to meet market demand on a season-by-season basis.
2. Maximize IT Processes While Reducing Costs
With cloud computing, you can reap the benefits of a large, in-house IT department at only a fraction of the cost. Cloud computing makes it possible to smart-size your company down to a team of workers who can handle the majority of business operations on a remotely implemented software system. You would no longer need to invest in a vast arsenal of computers and peripheral devices or hire a separate team of workers to maintain such equipment.
3. Implement and Deploy With Less Overhead
Once you hire a cloud server for your computing needs, system updates will be rolled out instantly on the other end, allowing your team to proceed with business unabated. Overall, this setup is far more efficient than most in-house IT departments, where system updates can cause compatibility issues with assorted network devices. With cloud computing, system updates are universally compatible with all connected PCs, laptops and mobile devices.
4. Easily Set Up a Multi-Region/International Infrastructure
If your company is spread across multiple regions, nations and continents, a cloud-based system could make it far easier to roll out updates to your computing infrastructure. Each software system and version update would be implemented on the server end, allowing your staff to log in from any location with internet access.
5. Enjoy Infinite Storage Regardless of Physical Space
Once you have the entirety of your company records stored on a cloud server, you could do away with paper files and operate a more compact business operation. If your company headquarters is large, the space that was once reserved for filing cabinets could be rearranged for other uses. Alternately, you could move your operations to a smaller, less sprawling set of office spaces and trim your monthly rent expenses. Theoretically, you could even run a large company from out of your home once you have all the computing and data storage handled on a cloud server.
6. Expand Your Team in Far-off Territories
For smaller businesses, one of the greatest cloud computing benefits is how it allows you to expand your workforce into other territories. If you operate from a single location, you could hire people in other cities, states and countries and have them work for your company as telecommuters. When you hire a new employee, he or she could simply log into your cloud-based business database and work on projects from a PC, laptop or smartphone.
7. Utilize an Easy-to-Manage Disaster Recovery Plan
In a local storage-only company infrastructures, system crashes and data loss can be costly and disastrous for any business. When you run everything via the cloud, you could organize a more readily accessible disaster recovery plan. All your data could be remotely stored on two or more remote servers for instant access and retrieval. If a major power outage affects your area, you won’t have to worry about brownouts frying your motherboards and computer devices because your computing system will primarily exist in the virtual sense.
8. Take Advantage of Instant Software Rollouts and Data Backup
Tasks such as system updates and database backups can be time-consuming for any business. With a cloud server, you can leave those tasks to the techs on the server end and devote more in-house hours to productive tasks. Best of all, there is less risk of update failures or incompatibility because all software updates are pre-tested at the server end for universal compatibility with modern-day computing devices.
9. Utilize Flexible Payment Options
For startup businesses, cloud computing is a far more affordable option than in-house tech because you can start with minimal services and scale up as your company expands. This stands in marked contrast to the pre-cloud model for new businesses, where you would need significant startup capital just to launch. With cloud computing, you could keep your overhead as low as possible and order more services as your business becomes more profitable.
Choose PCS for Cloud Computing Services Today
If you are thinking of moving your large or small business to the cloud, choose a service with maximum security and customer support. At PCS, we offer cloud services that are designed to be scaled up or down according to the needs of a given month. Contact us today for more information and to request a quote.