There’s a good chance that most of the software applications you use are now available as Software-as-a-Service applications, commonly known as SaaS. With SaaS, you don’t have to install programs onto your PC, you simply access them on a pay-as-you-go model for licenses, space, and the features you need. This gives you the ability to access highly-sophisticated software and functionality at a fraction of the cost — or even for free.
For example, Google is a massive cloud application with the power to search billions of sites and content that you can use free. Other examples are Facebook, Constant Contact, SurveyMonkey, etc. All are accessed through the internet and don’t require extra hardware or software to load.
With the introduction of cloud-based office applications like Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps, and others, it’s becoming increasingly unnecessary for some businesses to purchase and maintain an onsite server. Now, companies can host one or more of their applications, data, email, and other functions “in the cloud”. This simply means that it is stored offsite in a highly-secure, high-availability “utility” company with more power and resources than you can logically have onsite as a small business. And with devices getting cheaper and internet connectivity exploding, cloud computing can be a smart, viable option for many small business owners.
In fact, whole network configurations can be completely transferred to the cloud, utilizing cloud-based servers and eliminating onsite servers.
What are the benefits of cloud computing?
- Eliminates the need for expensive hardware and software allowing the use of cheaper devices to get the same work done (i.e. low-end workstations, thin-clients, etc.).
- Preserves cash by eliminating large outlays for expensive equipment purchases.
- Allows you to access your applications anywhere you have an internet connection.
- Built-in disaster recovery and business continuity.
- You only pay for what you need, increasing or decreasing usage as conditions warrant.
Is going to the cloud right for your business?
While there are tons of benefits to cloud computing, it isn’t right for all businesses:
- Even though cloud computing can eliminate hardware, software, upgrades, etc., it isn’t necessarily cheap depending on the applications and network configuration you choose. Servers in the cloud still need to be rented, provisioned, and maintained so the monthly cost can be unexpectedly high.
- You need commercial-grade internet connectivity because this is the single point of failure for cloud computing. No internet, no access!
- Some functions like graphics, don’t play well in the cloud and become slow and cumbersome to use. This can be a big problem if you use large, graphic applications and files in your business.
There is an alternative
The good news is that it’s not an all or nothing proposition. Oftentimes, the best approach is a hybrid configuration, where some functions like email are hosted in the cloud, while other parts of your network remain onsite. This gives many businesses the best of both worlds:
- Access anywhere to strategic functions through the internet
- A simpler onsite configuration making maintenance, repairs, and upgrades less daunting
- First-class backup/disaster recovery for those functions transferred to the cloud
- An affordable price that won’t break the bank
So, before you donate your server or sign up for Google Apps, it’s extremely important that you first talk to a Managed Services Provider (MSP) like XSolutions who can honestly assess your situation, give you the pros and cons before making the switch, and let you know exactly what to expect.
Changing your company’s network configuration is serious business. Find out the facts first, learn your options, and then decide what’s best for your business.
XSolutions is a Managed Services Provider (MSP) and provides 24/7/365 remote monitoring, scheduled workstation and server maintenance, Help Desk Services, Cloud & Hosted Services, Backup/Disaster Recovery, and Software Development. Call us at (845) 362-9675 and see how we can help your company.