Resource type: Blog

Why migrating to the cloud really can benefit your business

Cloud computing is essentially pay-as-you-go IT, online and on demand. It involves accessing IT resources (such as applications and storage) over the internet rather than having them on your own PC or network.

This approach, which typically requires less capital expenditure and fewer overheads, is a particularly attractive proposition for many smaller businesses. In addition, there are also the significant advantages of greater accessibility and flexibility, with the cloud offering the ability to access, modify and save files from any number of devices in any location. All of which is enhanced through the communication speeds offered by Superfast Broadband.

For most small businesses the most commonly used cloud solution is Software as a Service (SaaS) where ready-made online applications and software suites are available for instant use. These usually come on a subscription basis, charged per user per month for example, though there are also a variety of free open source solutions available in many areas.

As we’ve already mentioned, cost and accessibility are key benefits of such applications. However there are also a range of other significant benefits that you should take into account, including

  • Enhanced security – all of your data is stored in the cloud, so even if your laptop\tablet gets lost or stolen (and providing of course it is suitably encrypted) the data stays secure and can still be accessed by any of your other devices.
  • Disaster recovery – if you have a hardware failure your data is secure because it’s saved remotely in the cloud, with recovery times almost four times faster for businesses using cloud computing than those not.
  • Scalability – using cloud services also allows you to scale up or down, depending on your needs, so you’re only paying for what you need at the time.

And because the cloud provider manages your underlying infrastructure and automatically updates your online software, there is no requirement for this level of technical expertise in-house.

So, what SaaS applications can you access and what are the subsequent benefits? Here’s a few examples:

  • Online office productivity – you can access your documents, spreadsheets and presentations anywhere anytime, for instance, whilst in a client’s office.
  • Project management tools – multiple users can access and contribute to projects simultaneously.
  • Accounting packages – you can create a purchase order or run a management report from any location.
  • CRM – you can schedule a marketing email to a specific customer demographic whilst sat in a coffee shop.

But does the cloud actually deliver on its promises of greater flexibility and business agility? This brief case study certainly underlines its potential:

A manufacturer of biodiesel processors replaced its ageing laptops and desktop PCs by deploying cloud-based solutions including Office 365 and Microsoft Intune (which provides mobile device management and PC management capabilities).

The impact on the organisation was instant: regardless of their location, everyone had 24-hour access to secure email, shared diaries, a central SharePoint document library (with browser-based editing capability), and a full range of communications options and real-time collaboration tools. Intune provided simplified software support, maintenance and security.

Shortly after the move to the cloud, the sales manager closed a £400,000 sale primarily because he was able to access critical documents on the customer’s site and liaise with colleagues in real time!

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