According to a 2020 report by Nutanix, 82% of businesses in South Africa are rethinking how information technology (IT) is used in their company. One way to be more strategic with your IT plan is to look at cloud computing. Some may wonder why we are talking about the white fluffy objects in the sky but the cloud we are talking about is more substantial than the clouds in the sky. Let’s take a look at what is the cloud?, how will your small business benefit from the cloud? And how can you migrate to the cloud?
What’s the cloud?
Cloud computing has been present in our life for several years, but only recently has there been an uptake in movement onto the cloud. The cloud can be defined as a digital service that allows users to access important programs and data stored on a remote server anywhere if they have an internet connection according to an article on Business News Daily. You can learn more about the jargon used in cloud computing here.
How will your small business benefit from the cloud?
Having your programmes and data stored in the cloud, your small business can benefit substantially. Here are four benefits of using the cloud.
1. Regular software and security updates
The providers of your cloud services keep your information in off-site servers. These servers are looked after by the supplier of the cloud service and are regularly updated so you need to spend less time focusing on keeping your software and security features on your local machines updated.
2. Easier collaboration
By using cloud services, it is easier for your teams to collaborate even if they are working from remote locations. One example is online video conferences. Another benefit of having a localised place for files is that should anyone wish to make a change on the file they know they will be using the latest version and you can protect the files so only authorised individuals can make changes to the files.
3. Quick adaptability
As your business grows and the IT needs change, you can easily get more space for your IT requirements or even decrease the space if the need arises.
4. Better security
If your computer equipment is stolen and you have saved your data in the cloud. You can access that data from another computer and remove it before the thieves can access it.
With these benefits in mind, let see how you can migrate to the cloud.
STEP 1: What do you do already on the cloud?
If you use Google Workspace, or Microsoft 365, there is a good chance you are already using the cloud. If you use an accounting programming like Xero, then you are using the cloud. These are just some examples of how you can use cloud services. Cloud services can be divided into cloud storage, cloud backup, software as a service (SaaS) and cloud hosting.
STEP 2: What are your business goals?
You need to consider what you want to achieve when adopting the cloud. Do you want to move your entire business online or do you want to move some of your business workload online? Do you want it to be possible for your employees to work remotely and have flexi-time? Your goals will influence how you migrate to the cloud.
STEP 3: Which goals will you tackle first?
Now that you know what your business goals are, which ones do you want to work on first? It is important to focus on the parts of the cloud which you need to run the core of your business. When you have done these you can move on to other services which will help to future-proof your business.
STEP 4: Choose which service provider you want to use
When choosing your service provider, you need to consider a few points. The first is that whichever vendor you use will become a partner with your business. The way they operate could have an impact on how your customers perceive your business. Therefore ensure you work with reputable companies when moving to the cloud.
The second aspect to consider is where are the service providers based. Some services are based overseas and charge in a foreign currency which may be advantageous or not. Check how the price has fluctuated over a few years and if it has not been substantial then they may be a good supplier to go with. You should also see if they have local pricing. Some vendors do have local prices. The final aspect to consider is what is the vendor’s customer support and training like. Do they offer training programmes to help get your employees up to speed with the new technologies you are introducing?
STEP 5: Create a cloud migration plan
After you have set your goals and choose your service provider you need to move. You need to create a cloud migration plan. Many businesses will offer a cloud migration plan for you and let you know how the migration will happen.
By following these five steps you will be on your way to future-proofing your business.
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