Should I Move My Business to the Cloud?
At SOLTECH, it seems we have this conversation with many of our clients as we help them upgrade their software applications. We often see some hesitation due to reasons like not understanding what is involved, a fear of costs, or not knowing what steps to take to make it happen.
We understand the need to make optimal decisions for your business with future growth in mind. Moving your applications to the cloud can seem daunting but may not be as hard as you think and can provide a strong foundation for future growth. Let’s start by first understanding what the cloud is and how it can benefit your business.
You’ve probably heard people say “The Cloud” or “my stuff is in the The Cloud” many times. But, do you really understand what that means? In the simplest terms, The Cloud, refers to software, applications and services that run on the internet instead of a local physical machine. They exist in an ecosystem of servers located in multiple secure locations that can be easily accessed through any device online.
Instead of having a local server to make sure your office emails are sent, another server to house your accounting system, and that dusty old desktop (do not unplug that machine!) that houses the timecard system, you could instead pay a cloud vendor to house these applications for you.
Since you pay based on how many servers you require and how much you use them, when you need a new server for a project you just pay for the increased usage. You’re probably asking yourself, what is this going to cost and can I save money using the Cloud? Let’s look at some of the current costs involved in a traditional set up and how the Cloud can help you.
Types of Traditional IT Costs
Information systems have upfront and ongoing costs. Upfront costs include buying new servers and software licenses, getting them installed, vendor setup fees, etc. Once everything is setup you then have two types of ongoing costs:
- Maintenance: costs for upgrades and performing preventative actions
- Support: unexpected issues that you have to fix
If you think of a single desktop computer for one of your employees the upfront costs are the computer and their license for Microsoft Office. Ongoing costs include keeping their computer up to date with service packs and fixing it after they spill coffee on it, for example.
To handle these costs you either outsource them or hire in-house staff. This staff buys and installs servers, keeps them up to date, and fixes any issues. This has some disadvantages:
- IT people are expensive and hard to scale as your business grows.
- Since they rarely setup brand-new servers they are not experts.
- Since they do support more frequently and other higher priority tasks they become great at support and not necessarily great at new implementation.
- If they get busy, they favor support over maintenance (until an out of date server cause a support ticket).
What the Cloud Changes
If you move your resources the cloud this dynamic changes dramatically. Your local IT staff leaves the best practices to the experts who worry about security and patches full time. They still help with the setup of servers but focus more on the configuration and not the “build” piece as the cloud vendor can provide off-the-shelf configurations. This frees up your local IT staff to focus on support specific to your business.
There are some other specific advantages of the cloud infrastructure as well:
- Pay as you grow: Instead of sending large chunks of money at one time, like 25K for a server purchase, you pay as your needs increase.
- Geographic independence: Instead of one data center where you hope nothing happens, you now have increased fault tolerance and performance by having your applications in multiple locations and the resources to back them up.
- Easier deployment: Cloud vendors provide services that allow you to easily upgrade your services and rollback if there are any issues.
To summarize, cloud computing means:
- Less ongoing maintenance costs.
- More predictable costs as you grow.
- Less time spent on maintenance means ongoing surprise support costs are reduced.
- Your local IT can focus in on issues related with your core business.
- Some things are possible that never were before for small businesses.
Interested in learning more about moving some of your services to the cloud? We can get you there. Contact SOLTECH for more information on advantages of the cloud and estimated savings.