It appears that you can’t talk business these days without talking about the cloud. Expenditure by businesses on cloud services is predicted to rise to £166bn (€219bn) globally by 2017, and has grown at nearly 20% year-on-year since 2013.
Technology companies are embracing the cloud and developing new products all the time. The number of new cloud applications available grew 20% in the six months to October 2015. You can now find storage, servers, software and networks in the cloud. It’s almost easy to forget how businesses used to buy boxed software products and store their CDs in a cupboard or desk drawer.
The cloud has been a technology dream for decades and its failure in the past was simply due to the potential of cloud-based computing being beyond the capabilities of mass market technology such as storage and internet speeds.
Synergy Technology offers SMEs cloud technology provided by our Citadel hosted platform.
The new normal
Now, at last, technology has caught up and the cloud has enabled businesses of all sizes to access computer services over the internet.
Along with cloud computing, a raft of new acronyms has appeared such as SaaS, IaaS, SaaS (standing for Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service respectively).
What got us to this brave new world? Internet speeds and storage capacity has increased dramatically (imagine working on a document via dial-up), mobile hardware has become more affordable and, more than anything else, confidence amongst business people is universal. Technology is nothing if people aren’t prepared to use it.
The cloud is on its way to becoming the new way of working.
How businesses are adopting the cloud
The possibilities for cloud computing are extensive, and growing. A business could put all its IT infrastructure into the cloud if it had a mind to. But do businesses want to? There are many advantages to using the cloud, although security and reliability remains a concern for some. Here are a few of the key business drivers for moving to the cloud:
- Improved business agility – The world of business is faster paced than ever before and flexibility is key to success. Cloud-based services are available on subscription, so you pay only for what you need.
Often businesses can add to or reduce the service at any time. So if there is a temporary need for larger storage space, it can be accessed for a fee, or an additional software licence can be obtained for a temporary member of staff.
- Improved productivity – Cloud-based services enable people to access documents and software from any device, wherever they are. Many services allow offline working so staff can upload the completed document when they have internet access – you don’t need a continuous connection.
- Access better quality services – SMEs can now gain access to enterprise level applications, which would have been vastly over their budget previously, as a result of the changing pricing structure brought about by the cloud. Smaller businesses can access software through cloud computing that does more than they would previously have been able to afford. Cloud software and services have enterprise level capabilities at an accessible price.
As there are low barriers to entry and exit (you don’t have to pay out for a software licence for example) software providers are often more motivated to continuously improve their product.
Businesses benefit greatly from the flexibility cloud computing offers. It saves time, costs and often helps SMEs deliver a better service to customers more cost effectively.
Key benefits for SMEs include:
- Greater flexibility – ability to rapidly scale up and scale down your IT resources to meet the demands of your business.
- Automatic software updates – businesses have often felt they were held to ransom by software providers. Regular updates of software meant handing over cash, especially when support for previous versions were removed.
- Increasing collaboration within teams – you can access, edit and share documents easily and at any time. It is easier for remote teams or you and your clients to work together.
- Remote working – you and your team can work from anywhere, at any time. Useful if a member of staff needs to work from home or is meeting with a client abroad.
- Reduces capital outlay – there are lower (or no) upfront costs and you only pay for what you need. The cloud has reached a level of maturity where it can no longer be ignored by business, in particular businesses that have an intensive use of IT and a dispersed and mobile workforce. It’s capability, flexibility and low, simple cost model provides a powerful enabler for smaller businesses to compete against the largest multinational.
KEY CLOUD SERVICES
Disaster Recovery – no more tapes or drives to manually change every night and store offsite. Backups can be automated and, should the worst occur, you can continue to have access to your documents even if you’re hardware is destroyed or damaged.
Document Storage – virtual file servers in the cloud enable your team to store and retrieve files safely using any internet connected device while also knowing that everything saved in the cloud is secure.
Email – moving from an email application that runs on a server in your office to one that is hosted remotely giving easy mobile access.
Productivity Software – for applications such as Microsoft Office 365, you rent the software so whether you’re working in your office or on the go, you get the latest version enabling you to create, edit, and share from your desktop, tablet or mobile.
Specialist Software – whether it’s accounting software, CRM applications or marketing tools, virtually everything is now available to rent from a cloud hosted environment.