The Covid-19 pandemic has presented enormous challenges for businesses in almost every sector; with lockdown restrictions in many countries mandating remote working where possible, many businesses have struggled with the transition.
During times of low economic confidence, many businesses (particularly SMEs) may be reluctant to invest heavily in new technology – and that’s understandable. However, the current global crisis has made it essential that businesses change how they operate and explore new solutions to remain operational.
While many firms have embraced the required changes with enthusiasm, we’ve also noticed a hesitance among some businesses to adopt fit-for-purpose, business-grade remote working solutions. While we all expect a return to normality at some point, no-one really knows how long restrictions on daily life will last and with home working proving popular in many workplaces it remains to be seen whether traditional office life will return on the same scale as before. For these reasons, we believe it’s important that businesses thoroughly explore the tools that facilitate productive, efficient, and effective remote working.
Mobility, agility, and cost-efficiency – the importance of extracting maximum value from your IT
For many years now business has been reducing their reliance on physical IT infrastructure. Cloud computing has revolutionised the IT landscape; with the ability to reduce dependence on or completely eliminate the need for hardware such as servers and networking infrastructure, businesses are fast discovering the cost savings, agility and convenience that the Cloud can offer.
Let’s explore some of these considerations in more detail.
‘The Cloud’ still feels like a fairly new concept but its origins stretch back decades. The late 90s and early 2000s saw the first SaaS applications, with ‘Salesforce’ being one of the first major successes in the SaaS marketplace following its release in 1999. The decade that followed saw a rise in IaaS (infrastructure as a service), giving businesses new options for the delivery of their IT infrastructure. The 2010s have seen a huge rise in the popularity of Cloud services, to such a degree that the ‘Cloud option’ is sometimes regarded as the default choice. This is particularly true in the case of software, with Cloud-hosted SaaS applications now frequently replacing traditional licensed software programmes. Cloud services come in a variety of forms:
- SaaS (software as a service). The delivery of centrally hosted software on a subscription basis. Examples include Salesforce, Microsoft 365, Dropbox and HubSpot.
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a service). The delivery of computing resources via the cloud. Usually delivered on a similar ‘pay as you go’ basis to SaaS applications, IaaS gives consumers and businesses access to scalable, access-anywhere computing power and the ability to reduce demand upon or eliminate, expensive, office-based physical infrastructures – such as servers, firewall appliances and networking infrastructure.
- PaaS (Platform as a service). As with IaaS, PaaS services can help reduce reliance on physical infrastructure through the provision of Cloud-hosted resources required for the development and running of applications.
While Cloud services come in a variety of forms, there are several advantages common to all when compared to traditional office-based IT:
- Cost Efficiency. The subscription-based delivery model common to so many cloud services avoids the huge capital expenditure that comes with many IT projects. Additionally, maintenance overheads are often reduced as the service provider takes care of maintenance. Another advantage is that you can often pay for exactly what you need and not what you don’t. With many services offered on a per-user/per-month basis, you can tailor services to your exact requirements and avoid paying too much for capacity that isn’t required.
- While some firms have concerns about the security of their data when it comes to Cloud Services, the reality is that reputable Cloud Service providers actually provide enterprise-grade levels of security that many smaller firms wouldn’t be able to implement themselves. For example, Microsoft spends around a billion dollars per year securing its flagship platform, Microsoft 365.
- The ability to access resources from any location is a key selling feature of Cloud services, particularly as remote working has become more widespread this year. To make their services appealing to as big an audience as possible SaaS companies usually ensure their services can be accessed from as many devices and operating systems as possible – with IOS, Android, Mac and Windows compatibility common to most platforms.
- The cloud can function as an offsite backup. When it comes to backing up your vital data you should never put all your eggs in one basket. It’s therefore important to ensure data and systems are backed up in several locations one of which should be off-premises.
- Automatic Updates. Cloud-based applications are automatically updated centrally by the vendor. You don’t have to initiate and update, nor do you have to sit through the time-consuming process of update installation – every time you log-in you’re automatically using the most current version of the application that is available.
- It’s more environmentally friendly. While data centres receive a bad rap when it comes to their environmental credentials, the alternative – greater reliance on office hosted infrastructure – is more environmentally damaging. On-premise hardware is less pliable in terms of its scalability, which in many cases results in the overprovision of resources and inefficient use of both hardware and energy.
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