Certainty isn’t a luxury that those in the world of work can take for granted, unfortunately, and, in recent times, business continuity issues have been even more uncertain than usual. Change has been the order of business for owners all over the world since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, when many long-standing business functions were forced to adapt just to give the business a chance at survival.
Business owners are at their best when solving problems, and this ability has led many to find alternative ways of producing at least close to the output that they were achieving pre pandemic, allowing them to survive the worst. One – and the most popular – method that allowed many to survive was the Cloud – the Cloud allows you to continue working at the rate you are accustomed from anywhere in the world, and all you need is an internet connection.
Don’t worry - the Cloud wasn’t designed with the sole intention of just helping those suffering during the pandemic. It has been around for a while and slowly growing in popularity, which has been mirrored by an interest in businesses to utilise an at least partial remote working team. The pandemic merely forced the hand of many, compelling some that would have probably waited and taken a more gradual approach to dive straight in.
The Cloud is an IT component that is based offsite and is only used on an access basis. You pay for a service with the Cloud rather than the infrastructure it resides in, meaning that you don’t have to manage it, as management is left to the vendor you are paying for the service.
Working in the Cloud not only allows you to work continuously from anywhere (with an internet connection) but also supplies you with the ideal backup solution. We recommend a 3-2-1 backup system, with data being stored in the Cloud as well as at least two other locations, ensuring you are always able to access your data to prevent downtime should the worst happen.
The Cloud is rapidly becoming the choice of many around the world – but this isn’t the same for everyone. Some require their on-premise IT infrastructure to complete integral work that will keep the business running, and in some cases a hybrid of both the Cloud and on-premise IT would be recommended.
As you know, every business is unique - no two IT systems can be exactly the same and everyone requires something different to enable their business to run as effectively as possible. For example, some businesses only function when they have a stable internet connection 100% of the time, and, unfortunately, this isn’t possible when using Cloud computing
This being said, you have to take a look at your own organisation and decide what is best for you and your team – don’t just pick the most popular option because there may be a better solution for you.
Deciding what’s best for you is no easy task. As we said, your choice must be in the best interests of everyone. In the following two articles we will highlight both the positives and negatives of the Cloud and on-premise IT – hopefully, this knowledge will guide you to the right choice for your business.
The Cloud – The positives
On-premise IT doesn’t offer you the same level of confidence that the Cloud does regarding the safety of your data. On-premise IT is vulnerable to a variety of threats, or even failure, and you could lose your data forever if you don’t have a proper backup regime. The Cloud is safe – or at least as safe as it can be – but that doesn’t make it impenetrable. It is highly recommended that you have copies of your data hosted elsewhere as well as in the Cloud because the more copies of your data you have then the more secure the future of your business is.
The Cloud offers levels of collaboration that were simply unreachable a mere few years ago. You can communicate and share from anywhere on the planet with an internet connection. Whether you are in your villa abroad or sitting comfortably in your living room, as long as you have internet connection there is no problem. No one has to know you are there and you can still work as normal. The Cloud allows your team to work on a document simultaneously from different locations – for example, one of your team could be at home on their balcony and the other on the other side of the globe - but the levels of collaboration they are able to achieve make them feel as though they are sitting right next to each other. Work never need stop if you don’t deem it necessary and your team can work together from anywhere.
The Cloud is fully scalable. The pandemic has proven to us all that anything can happen at a moment’s notice - some staff teams were fluctuating in size by the day, when the office was full to the brim one day and the following it was at less than half capacity, due to the ever changing regulations. Luckily, work practices now seem to be transforming to a ‘new normal’, with some working from home while the rest of the staff team are in the office. You might even have more employees joining your team. You must – whatever is the case – ensure that you can meet the demands of your business to ensure its success. Having the ability to scale at a moment’s notice not only keeps things affordable but also guarantees that the tools you are using are cost-effective and efficient.
4. Business continuity
As previously mentioned, the Cloud allows you to get access to your data in the eventuality of cyber attack or crisis. With the right business continuity plan your business can be up and running efficiently in no time.
Managing your own IT systems is expensive, to say the least. The Cloud doesn’t just reduce this expenditure but removes it completely. Most Cloud providers include all of your system upgrades, new hardware, and software in your pre-agreed monthly payments, when traditionally they would be additional costs. Not only are there additional expenses with traditional IT but you also have to be alert as to when they are needed and this – for the not so IT confident – can be an impossible task and also very time-consuming. Also, when on the Cloud, there will likely be no need for the IT professionals that you have employed because, as unfair as this sounds, there will simply be no need for them as your provider will manage the Cloud for you as part of your contractually agreed fee.
All these positives are revolutionary, but that doesn’t mean the Cloud doesn’t come with its own negatives too. Let’s take a look at some of its imperfections now.
The Cloud – the negatives
1. Internet connection dependency
Some business owners are put off from an implementation of the Cloud due to its need for an uninterrupted, constant internet connection – understandably, this makes many nervous as your connection just cannot always be guaranteed. Your organisation is entirely reliant on a stable internet connection to allow you and your team to access the data that makes your business the success it is. Experiencing a power outage could cause potentially huge downtime, which could be a disaster for some businesses. A simple drop in internet connection could be the end of everything, in the worst-case scenario.
2. The loss of control
Business owners like control – and that is understandable, as it has usually taken a lot of hard work, dedication and capital to get to the point where the business is a success, and the continued success is what keeps a roof over their own heads as well as their employees. When on the Cloud you are handing all the power over to your provider, you are trusting them to not just handle it but handle it lawfully according to your compliance obligations and in such a way that it is secure and easily accessible. It is important that you know where the data centres of your chosen provider are and if they are secure both physically and online - your regulatory obligations may require you to complete due diligence on your provider.
If there is a problem you will have to trust that they are going to find and implement a solution that works. Having no control can be very difficult for some business owners to deal with - relying on someone else is never easy, be it in the world of business or not. You will be entirely reliant on the capabilities and haste of your provider’s team. Also, bear in mind that the majority of providers don’t run 24/7 services either, so if you know you may need assistance in unsociable hours then you must be sure that you pick a provider that offers the full cover that you require.
Do the positives outweigh the negatives?
Put simply, yes, they do. As you know, there are positives and negatives to everything, but with the Cloud the positives far outweigh any negatives – once having guaranteed that the implementation and management is of a good standard then the negatives fade away.
You MUST research any potential providers you are considering. Ask them what they will do to cater to your business and ease your concerns. Do they have continuity plans and practice risk mapping? Ask them what the future holds for your IT landscape. All of this is essential information, the answers of which will determine whether you have chosen the right provider or not.
One of the hardest things to get your head around – as we have previously mentioned - is the lack of control that you get with Cloud computing. Before making a decision and signing anything, take your time, talk to representatives of potential providers, and make sure they alleviate any concerns you may have about the service they are offering. A good provider will take the time to walk you through the details of the service they provide step by step, they will highlight the cyber security measures they have in place to protect your data at all times when it is in their control and outline what the future holds for you and your team in relation to your IT landscape.
Now you know what the Cloud has to offer and its drawbacks, the following article will explore traditional on-premise IT, both the positives and negatives, and whether it is right for your organisation.
AsiaCloud Solutions provides high-quality, reliable, and cost-effective Managed IT services to help your organisation succeed with IT. We offer a combination of enterprise-grade technology along with a fast, scalable, personalised service. We provide world-class IT you can rely on at affordable prices, with our specialists supporting you with a proactive service from right here in Singapore.