The Benefits of The Cloud
Whilst the majority (if not all) of our Blogs are about Cloud Computing; they can sometimes be a bit, well, esoteric. So, our Head of Marketing, Abby, has asked me to put together a simple, no messing about Blog, that details the benefits of The Cloud.
So, here are my top 10 benefits of the cloud:
Compare Cloud computing to on-premises computing: How ‘flexible’ is the storage, server, network, and desktop infrastructure that you paid a fortune for; and which you wont be replacing for another few years?
In comparison, Cloud computing allows you to choose the right blend of technology from a variety of Software, Infrastructure, Platform, Desktop, and Backup as a Service providers. Moreover, if you’re smart about how you manage your subscriptions, you can change provider at any time, to suit your requirements.
Again, let’s consider a typical on-premises infrastructure. It’s probably purchased/refreshed on a 4 to 5 year cycle. And, you might think, it’s served you pretty well; after all, you’ve not had to spend any more on it since you purchased it. So what is the benefit of Cloud computing in terms of Scalability? With cloud you only pay for what you need, when you need it. You don’t need to fork out thousands for storage you don’t utilise right now just to ensure you’ve got what you need in a few years. You can scale your usage up or down instantly.
In my experience, IT professionals take a very conservative approach to sizing IT infrastructures: after all, they don’t want to come back to the business, asking for more hardware (i.e. money), because they got their sums wrong at the outset.
There are two other benefits of Cloud computing, in terms of scalability:
Speed How long does it take to source, procure, configure, and implement traditional on-premises hardware? Let’s go with a week at least. When our clients need a new user, server instance, additional storage, or desktop: we can have it up and running within minutes.
Scale Down In the Cloud world, unlike on-premises infrastructures; scalability is a two-way street. You can just as easily, and quickly, scale down to suit your changing needs.
Updates take care of ensuring that your software is free from security vulnerabilities, bugs, and occasionally, new features. This is, hopefully, something your IT Team, or Service Provider, takes care of on a daily basis (why daily? – because a day is a long time when your system is subject to a security vulnerability).
In terms of ‘upgrades’; the traditional hardware refresh cycle is largely underpinned by the assumption that the infrastructure will run the same operating system, server and desktop applications for its lifetime. If you’re lucky, and your IT team baked in a lot of spare capacity (i.e. cost) when they planned the infrastructure, you might, just might, be able to upgrade without further hardware costs.
In contrast, Cloud Computing is ‘Ever Green’. The Cloud Provider will take care of the business of ensuring your software (be it infrastructure or application) is fully updated (patched); and upgrading is usually a tick box choice, to be made when you need the new functionality, rather than every few years.
So in short, updates are automatically done for you.
Talking of feature upgrades, we are currently living through a period of exponential IT innovation. In the last 12 months, we have moved from providing Microsoft Cloud solutions, based on Microsoft 365 and Azure; to a Cloud Solutions company, providing AI enabled, automated, connected cloud solutions to our clients. This has been made possible by the near-constant release of new innovations by Microsoft on their Cloud platform. This would simply not of have been possible, had we not chosen to ‘bin the tin’ and go all in as a Microsoft Gold partner.
So what does this mean for you? When you choose a provider such as Microsoft for cloud, you take advantage of their ongoing innovations. New features, capabilities and advancements are all available for you to take advantage of.
Not convinced? Take a look here to see details of the (at time of writing) 244 Microsoft 365 features currently being rolled out, and the 521 in development.
Firstly, As mentioned above, automatic updates prevent your systems from having security vulnerabilities, so should a cyber attack occur, your business remains protected. But not only that, when you choose Microsoft for cloud hosting and technology you’ve got over 3,500 cybersecurity professionals working 24/7 on your behalf (see here for more). Now, I don’t know about you, but as a business, that’s a major plus for us, and we have security specialists in our team.
The Cloud is, sorry ‘was’, expensive. Over the last few years we saw a period of ‘cloud reversal’. This occurred as organisations were stung by the costs of poorly designed and managed, cloud solutions. Businesses then reverted to on-premises, or none cloud-hosted solutions.
Now, we’re seeing a massive increase in businesses going cloud-based. Likely pushed by the impact of COVID-19. But, the important thing is that businesses have been able to see and experience the cost benefits of cloud. There’s no hefty upfront costs. You don’t need to purchase expensive tin that you don’t utilise to it’s full capacity. You only pay for what you use on a monthly basis. Not only that, updates, upgrades and changes are all done within minutes. You don’t need to pay for an onsite engineer visit, or hold up your business whilst you wait for such a thing.
We have two types of customer here at String:
Why? Other than the other benefits listed in this blog, one of the most significant reasons is collaboration. Microsoft 365 is built around providing the online technologies and forums for organisations, clients, customers, and partners to work collaboratively on any device, at any time, from anywhere.
Your team get access to platforms such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and more. Which allows staff to communicate via audio and video call, work together on documents, chat, store files and much, much more. It really does offer endless capabilities.
Going cloud based allows staff to access data, documents and systems anywhere. So your employees can work from home or on the go, exactly as they would if they were in the office, easily and securely.
This really became beneficial for homeworkers during lockdown, but it also allows us to move into a new age of “hybrid working”. Everyone’s business is different but what’s important is that you now have the option to allow your staff to work wherever it suits you or them without any impact to business processes or performance from a technology point of view.
Naturally, most organisations would prefer ‘continuity’ over ‘recovery’. Continuity implies a sort of, well, continuity. Recovery, on the other hand, sounds a whole lot less enjoyable.
The fundamental truth is that protecting your own infrastructure comes down to this… If, god forbid, your building fell down or set on fire, or an administrator error meant you lost access to your critical applications, how long would it take you to get back up and running?
When you choose a cloud provider, in our case, Microsoft, your data is stored on Microsoft’s global network of secure data centres. Which provides a few business continuity benefits, firstly, It’s off site, so should your building collapse (a tad dramatic, we know, but to address the point…) your data doesn’t go down with it. And if Microsoft’s data centre burns down, there’s another one backing the first up. Take a look here to see how Microsoft protect their data centres, and ask yourself if your IT infrastructure is as resilient.
Many of our customers like to think of business continuity as insurance. We use this analogy; you wouldn’t leave your car uninsured, so why would you not insure your most valuable business asset?
If you lose access to your data for whatever reason, it can bring your business to a halt. With cloud you can be back up and running within the hour. How? That brings us on to the second point, all of your valuable data and systems are regularly backed up. So should you lose everything, you can get it all back. It’s worth it.
We’ve been harping on about the benefits of automation and analytics for a while now, and I’d like to continue to do so.
If you’ve not yet explored the potential of Microsoft’s Power Platform to transform your business processes, then I urge you to take a look at these other two blogs:
If you want the short answer to this one, cloud platforms such as Microsoft’s Power Automate, provide endless automation capabilities for businesses and we think it’s underutilised!
You can automate regular business processes that employees would usually be responsible for. Freeing up their time and speeding up your business.
And there you have it, 10 simple (I didn’t say short) benefits of moving to the Cloud. If you’d like to hear how your organisation could benefit from cloud technologies, why not get in touch?
Sales & Marketing Director