Cloud computing. It’s a term that strikes fear into the heart of every business owner or manager. People have a tendency to fear things that they don’t really understand, and a term like cloud computing makes a simple concept come across as extremely complicated. So we’ve decided to simplify things a bit by delving into what exactly cloud computing means, and 5 uses of cloud computing that could give your business a very real advantage.
What is Cloud Computing?
The phrase “cloud computing” may sound complicated, but it’s actually a very simple concept. Any services that operate in the cloud are cloud computing services.
It could be your storage, your servers, your apps or your network infrastructure. Any and all of these can be cloud-based, available to you and your teams wherever you are in the world. They usually cost less to operate, since there’s no need for exorbitant down-payments or licensing fees. Plus, maintenance usually falls to the cloud service provider, reducing costs to your business even further, while increasing your security.
How Can My Business Use Cloud Computing?
Now that you have a better sense of what cloud computing is, let’s look at a few ways that your business could be benefiting from it. These 5 uses of cloud computing will give any company a boost and can provide your teams with the access and services that they need, wherever they may be.
1. Storing Documents
The days of filing cabinets have long been over, but even the days of storing files on physical hard drives in your office are quickly coming to an end. Physical storage comes with too many risks and complications. It’s all too easy for a drive to become corrupted, and for essential files to be lost in the process.
With cloud storage, you can ensure that your documents and data and stored securely and easily accessible to those who need them (and only those who need them!) And the advantages of cloud storage don’t end with keeping and maintaining your files. Solutions like Microsoft SharePoint allow for easy collaboration as well.
2. Backing Up Systems
With the risk of ransomware on the rise, having a copy of your data, apps and infrastructure could mean the difference between success and failure.
Attackers holding your business’ confidential information hostage may sound far-fetched. But it’s a reality that thousands of businesses face every year. And the results can be devastating, with a single attack costing over R1m. Is that a financial risk that your business could take?
By storing a cloud backup of your data, you mitigate the risk of a ransomware attack. If an attacker gains access to your confidential information, they can’t hold it hostage. They can even delete your files and it won’t have the slightest impact on your operations. You can simply restore them and continue business as normal.
3. Preparing For Disaster
While threats like ransomware are very real, they aren’t the only dangers to your data out there. As South Africans, we deal with load shedding on a regular basis. What would happen to your business if your infrastructure simply didn’t come back online after a power outage. These kinds of IT disasters happen all the time!
We’ve just explained why cloud storage can be essential to business continuity. But cloud backups only make up part of disaster planning. By ensuring that your infrastructure and apps are not just accessible online, but are entirely cloud-based, your business can be well-prepared for any disaster that may come its way.
Take your infrastructure, for example. If your networks and servers are managed and maintained on-premises, they are vulnerable to disasters like power outages, fire, and even the physical wear-and-tear that all technologies are susceptible to. When you work with a cloud hosting provider to manage your infrastructure, you are gaining access to inverters, generators, humidity control and world-class security. In essence, your data has far more protection from disaster than any one SME could reasonably afford to maintain in-house. Plus, all of the upkeep and maintenance that your networks and servers require is managed by your provider as well, removing the risk from your shoulders.
4. Analysing Data
Businesses generate huge amounts of data every single day. Data about their solutions and how their customers are using them. Information about potential clients. Who’s visiting their website and viewing their social media. Which apps their teams are using and how they are adding value to their company. But without analysis, this data is wasted.
Cloud computing allows for in-depth analysis of your systems, your apps, your customers, and your time. Platforms like Microsoft MyAnalytics can be put to use in ensuring that your teams are as productive and efficient as possible. Data mining tools, machine learning and artificial intelligence can generate stats and reports on all the information in your possession. And these can go a long way towards helping your business make informed decisions that will see you not just achieving, but exceeding your goals.
5. Testing & Building Apps
Implementing new technologies comes with a certain amount of risk. And implementing new apps is no different. Whether it’s an app that you’ve designed, or one that you’re just introducing to your business, having the opportunity to test apps and the impact that they can have on your existing systems is essential.
This is where Platform as a Service, or PaaS, solutions come in. They provide a virtual environment for you to try out new apps and digital solutions without risking your existing solutions. You can use them to build or test new apps to make sure that there are no glaring errors or incompatibilities before you introduce them to your ongoing operations. This reduces the risk of anything going wrong, and provides you with the opportunity to play around with new solutions and ensure that they’re the right fit for your business.
Don't wait for disaster to strike!
So Much More to Cloud Solutions
These are just 5 uses of cloud computing that could give any business an advantage in an ever-changing digital world. But the benefits of using cloud solutions goes far behind just these 5 implementations. Cloud computing has the potential to advance your business and see you stepping into the future with confidence. All you need is the right Managed Services Provider by your side to help you navigate the technologies that are available.
Solid Systems is just that provider. We make sure that our clients are investing in the right technologies for their business, maximising their advantages, and ultimately making more money while minimising the risks of the modern workplace. Oh, and we offer world-class, human IT support.
Ready to make the shift to the cloud? Get in touch with us today.