Author Archives: Brad Les

5 Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has been around for decades, but change can be scary for many business owners. An International Data Group study says 69% of businesses already use Cloud technology in some capacity, and 18% say they plan to implement Cloud computing solutions in the next twelve months. Those still resisting cite security concerns and a general lack of knowledge about integrating the Cloud into one’s business operations.

What it Means to Host Data in the Cloud

Hosting data in the Cloud means paying a hosting company a monthly fee to host your information in their data center instead of an on-premises (on-prem) solution in your office. Some of the most well-known Cloud providers include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud. Local data centers are also an excellent option to host your data and infrastructure. Known as COLOs, they provide multiple layers of redundancy and give you the ability to host your physical servers and infrastructure.

Here are some business advantages of Cloud computing:

  1. Cost Savings
  2. Anywhere, Anytime, Always Up Access
  3. Scalability
  4. Security
  5. Backup and Disaster Recovery

 

#1 – Cost Savings

Business decisions often come down to cost. Some owners feel they are “renting space” and find monthly Cloud hosting fees a nuisance. However, when you add up all your costs, Cloud services typically save businesses money over the long term.

Base subscriptions typically provide ample storage, security, email services, file sharing, and additional perks. Also, if your Cloud provider is a Managed IT Service Provider, subscriptions include ongoing system monitoring, software maintenance and updates, advanced security solutions, and ongoing service and support.

Should you choose to keep everything on-premises, you’ll need to make a significant upfront investment in your infrastructure. For example, you’ll need all the necessary hardware, keeping in mind that most businesses have to replace their servers every three to five years. You’ll also need to budget for software licensing fees, backup services, a server room, power, HVAC, battery backups, etc.

To ensure you receive all the features you need, ask what is (and is not) included in your plan. Here are some questions to ask your Cloud Provider before you sign.

 

#2 – Anytime, Anywhere, Always Up Access

If COVID-19 taught us anything, it is the importance of giving employees any time, anywhere, always ‘up’ access to the applications and files they need to do their jobs efficiently and without interruption. While remote access isn’t a new concept, the remote technology used by Cloud providers is superior to the applications typically used by businesses.

Cloud computing allows your team to access everything they need on any computer or smart device. This level of mobility allows for easy file sharing, real-time collaboration, and better version control.

Partnering with a reliable Cloud service provider also means your access is always ‘up’ due to these facilities having redundant power, battery backups, and standby generators.

So whether you are still supporting a remote workforce, have employees who travel, or just want to provide your team with a better work-life balance, Cloud storage is the most efficient and cost-effective way to support your staff.

 

#3 – Scalability

If you’re a growing business or hoping to expand your footprint, your infrastructure will also need to grow. You’ll need to purchase new servers and computers, additional software, and increased memory and computing power. Also, don’t forget to budget for space, labor, and expertise to make it all happen.

Most Cloud providers offer a pay-as-you-go model, making it easy for companies to scale their needs, increasing or decreasing capacity. For example, with just a few clicks of the mouse, you can add more storage, CPU, or memory. This flexibility dramatically cuts your overhead costs and reduces your ramp-up time as you expand.

 

#4 – Security

Most business owners agree that securing their proprietary information and customer data is a top priority. Most cloud providers offer a higher level of security than typical on-prem solutions. Strong security measures include formidable firewalls, Advanced Next-Gen Antivirus software, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and other security services.

Gartner estimates that public Cloud service workloads will suffer at least 60% fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centers. RapidScale claims 94% of businesses saw improved security after switching to the Cloud. Also, 91% of companies surveyed said maintaining their data in the Cloud makes it easier to meet compliance requirements.

 

#5 – Backup and Disaster Recovery

Reputable cloud storage providers include many features that help avoid data loss, including built-in redundancy, failover, backup, automatic logging, monitoring, etc. Some Cloud providers, including ACT, include backup and disaster recovery in their agreements, ensuring the shortest possible recovery time should a disaster occur.

Unreliable backup and disaster recovery solutions are two of the most significant risks to businesses storing their data on-premises. Even if you back up data nightly, you will likely lose all the data created between backups if the local hardware fails or is compromised.

How a Managed Service Provider Can Help Manage Your Cloud

Transitioning to the Cloud can be a struggle. Many companies require help to migrate to the Cloud, as it is not always black and white. A credible Managed Service Provider (MSP) like ACT can help.

Working with a Managed Service Provider ensures your big picture is addressed. A Managed IT Service contract provides you with many benefits for one flat monthly fee, including:

We understand the Cloud can be scary when you don’t know where your data is kept, who has access to it, and who is securing it. However, no matter how you feel about it, Cloud Computing and storage are here to stay. We strongly recommend it because, in most cases, Cloud Computing is well-suited to support growth goals, offers advanced layers of security, and ultimately adds to a company’s productivity and profitability. The key to success is ensuring your infrastructure is architected and secured correctly from the very beginning.

We invite you to contact an ACT Cloud Specialist to learn how converting to the Cloud can help your business save money and operate more efficiently and securely.


12 Key Questions to Ask Your Cloud Service Provider Before You Sign

Choosing to migrate your business’s data and applications to the Cloud is not an issue to consider lightly. It is, however, a decision that typically saves companies money, improves their security, and increases productivity.

Selecting the right Cloud Service Partner is an essential first step. It’s important to understand that providers may offer different features, so understand what’s important to you and how the various features impact you.

At a high level, be sure to ask for a complete list of what is and is not included in your agreement. Below are 12 questions we recommend asking your Cloud Service Provider before signing on the dotted line.

  1. Where is our data stored?
  2. What security measures are in place to protect our data?
  3. How are costs calculated (by resource utilization or user)?
  4. How often are backups performed?
  5. What is the disaster recovery plan in the event of a disaster?
  6. How do I get my data back if I want to move to a new provider?
  7. Do you offer real-time monitoring, security updates, and patching?
  8. What redundancy is in place for power, internet, network, and servers?
  9. What is your SLA in the event of an outage?
  10. Can I increase or decrease my capacity and services as needed?
  11. Is there a limit to the amount of data I can store?
  12. Do you provide IT support if I have a problem accessing data?

Remember, knowledge is power! There are many benefits associated with cloud computing, and cloud service providers offer a vast array of options, so it’s important to understand your business’ needs and ask in-depth questions. Contact your Managed Service Provider to help you get the process started. They can help you make some of the more complex decisions and may even provide a Cloud solution that meets your needs.

If you’re not sure where to start, contact an ACT specialist today. We’re happy to answer your questions and guide you in the right direction.