Whether you’ve come across it reading IT related articles or simply become aware of it by using your phone or laptop, you’ve almost certainly seen the term ‘the cloud’ get thrown around in a variety of conversations and industries in recent years.
Although it’s clearly a hot topic, it’s hard to know as a business owner exactly how to implement the cloud and cloud-based services into your own IT infrastructure. Without any confusing specifics or convoluted details, we’ll give you some simple advice in this article on the myriad of ways that utilising cloud-based IT can help to propel your startup into the future.
What uses does the cloud have?
You most likely know the vague concept that the cloud is where your data is stored beyond your laptop, external hard drive, etc. But is that all it can do?
In short, the cloud is far more than this. For instance, many companies are now providing a range of different programmes on a subscription model as a service rather than a one-off purchase. This isn’t just limited to the odd piece of software – you can now buy huge elements of your IT system through models like this.
Although this is the most common use of the cloud for businesses, ‘Platform as a Service’ (PaaS) provides the opportunity for businesses to build their own software, a service that would otherwise be incredibly expensive. Even beyond this, ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ (IaaS) can give your business access to premium networking hardware that would otherwise be far beyond your budget. There are even specialist companies who can consolidate your existing data and transform it into a cloud-based app – improving end-user experience and facilitating home-based working – a hot topic in 2020.
So how can you use the cloud in the best way for your business?
Optimising Your Network for The Cloud
Your network will need to be performing at maximum efficiency if you need your employees to use demanding cloud based services – otherwise, access will be so slow it won’t even be worth using them.
How do you get around this potential problem? You can’t just add whatever cloud-based services you feel like and expect them to run well. Instead, you need to configure your network so that the most critical cloud-based services are prioritised. While there are multiple ways to tackle this, we think one of the best is using an SD WAN overlay, which lets you control exactly how your network is functioning.
Talking about traffic prioritisation with your managed IT service provider would be a great first step if you’ve already started to adopt the ‘as a service’ model for your current IT support.
Improving Team Communication
But all of these changes to how you use your software aren’t happening in a vacuum – at the end of the day, you’re making these changes so that your team can optimise your IT system. Evidence has shown that teams work effectively with these cloud based services, and may even work more efficiently than if they were to gather in person.
For example, think about a document that needs input from multiple members of your team. Before services like Google Drive, this could be a nightmare, resulting in many obsolete versions and individual amendments needing to be made. Instead of this headache, the cloud now allows multiple people to simultaneously work on a single file in real time, improving possibilities for collaboration and communication. With the help of a little training, the cloud can help your team work better together than ever before, enhancing the ease of their work and helping them to produce an even better output.
Work Effectively from Anywhere
In decades gone by, you need your team within a certain radius of the office, or work simply isn’t going to get done. With the cloud, your employees could be on opposite sides of the globe, and your business will be running as smoothly as ever.
With easy, straightforward access to the same services, files and infrastructure, as well as real time communication as you work, it’s clear to see that the cloud makes collaboration between employees seamless, regardless of their location.
This provides an amazing opportunity for companies in remote locations, who may otherwise not receive as many top-quality candidates responding to job advertisements. Instead of hoping that someone will move out of a major business hub to work for your startup, you can give a potential top employee the chance to work from home with almost none of the downsides – as long as they have an internet connection, it’s like they’re with you in the office.
You may even see an increase in employee satisfaction, employee retention, and productivity by providing people with this fantastic opportunity – flexibility is increasingly desirable nowadays, and with the cloud, it can be a total win-win.
Using the Cloud Securely
Of course, bringing the cloud into your business isn’t going to be completely straightforward in practice, particularly with regard to keeping the data you’re transmitting safe and secure.
One recent phenomenon known as ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) schemes in the work place can offer some great cost benefits, similarly to the previously discussed opportunities for collaboration that the cloud can bring, but you need to make sure that all of these methods are protected from data theft and other issues.
No matter how robust your network security is, the downside of having employees use their own home devices that they also use in their own time is that their devices will never be as secure as dedicated devices for your business that remain within your IT infrastructure. You need to ensure that every device connected to your cloud-based services has high quality security software, and that your team all abide by strict rules when accessing business related data to prevent any security breaches.
One way to do this that is utilised by many different cloud-based services is the ability to choose appropriate levels of access for individual devices or employees. This can be altered for each user, and is a feature that’s essential to utilise if you want to make sure your business related data is as secure as it can be while still enjoying the many benefits of the cloud.