Many businesses, especially small and mid-sized businesses, keep a lot of their data processing on premise or in their own data centers. This means that everyday tasks such as file shares and email servers reside on local servers that are maintained by local IT staff. There are many reasons why businesses choose to operate this way rather than moving their data processing to the cloud, but they typically fall into two basic categories, either simple inertia or concern for data security. However, by operating this way, these businesses are missing out on the many advantages of migrating to the cloud, including increased security.
First, a few things you need to know about cloud computing. There are three models of cloud service:
- Software as a Service (SaaS) – This is a service model where the vendor provides the software completely as a service, without requiring any operational support from local IT staff, although local IT staff may still need to provide configuration service. Examples of SaaS are Office 365, Salesforce and Slack.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) – This is the cloud model where the vendor provides all of the services required for application development, such as database and application environment, but local IT staff develop the actual business application. Examples are Microsoft Azure, Amazon Elastic Beanstalk and Google App Engine.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – In this cloud service model, the vendor supplies basic services like servers and storage and local IT staff install, configure and support the tools needed to develop applications like databases and Python or Java environments. Examples are Digital Ocean, Rackspace and Amazon Web Services.
There are also three types of cloud deployment, Public, Private, and Hybrid. Most small and mid-sized businesses elect to go with Public cloud deployments, which make computing assets available to the public over the internet, because this model is significantly less expensive than the other models. Private clouds, which are deployed for the sole use of a single organization are very expensive and typically deployed only for large enterprises or government agencies. Hybrid clouds are a combination of both.
Forbes Magazine lists six reasons for businesses to move to the cloud, but we’re going to focus on three that are most important to small and mid-sized businesses: Security, Cost Reduction, and Reliability. It is likely that one of the most misunderstood and unexpected advantages of cloud computing is the fact that it actually increases security of the digital assets. The reason for this is that vendors have processes in place to make sure that upgrades and patches are applied reliably and promptly. In addition, the security resources available to large cloud vendors far outstrips that of any single one of their clients, so they are able to ensure their defenses and monitoring systems are state-of-the-art.
Another good reason to move data services to the cloud is to reduce costs. Cloud services are offered with pay-as-you-go pricing, meaning that a business need only pay for the computing power it uses. In this model, a business doesn’t need to purchase expensive server equipment, pay staff for maintenance and maintain expensive software licensing costs. Also, a business will reduce operational expenses on backups and hardware maintenance. All of these costs are spread across the entire client base of the cloud vendor, so that individual clients pay a much lower cost.
Finally, moving to the cloud improves the reliability of applications and services. Most cloud vendors will guarantee upwards of 99% reliability and they also manage backups and disaster recovery. In addition, cloud vendors can offer reliability at a lower price point because redundant power, servers and storage can be amortized across the client base.
Of course, every business has its own unique requirements and no solution is applicable to every situation, but it’s clear that cloud computing offers a host of advantages over local, premise-based computing and should be given a fresh look. There are many robust, secure and inexpensive cloud solutions in the market and they should be considered as an option, especially when a business is looking to replace outdated equipment or servers.