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Replace our servers or go the cloud?

If you still have your company servers onsite at your business location and you’re wondering if you should go to the cloud, the answer is probably – Yes. There are many reasons why this is a good idea, and for us here on the Gulf Coast, one of those reasons is hurricane season.

Let’s make sure that we’re talking about the same thing when we say “cloud” because there are different kinds of cloud computing. For the purposes of this article, just think of the cloud as the utilization of servers for file storage and computing resources that are not at your physical location.

This is different from the web apps or SaaS (software as a service) applications that your employees might be using for anything from your line-of-business software to specialty apps for different departments like HR, Marketing and Accounting.

Security Concerns Unfounded

If you’ve been holding back on replacing your servers with cloud resources, it may be because you’re worried about security. It feels like you have more control when you can go down the hall, open the door to your server closet and see all the lights blinking but… that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, you’re probably less secure than if you were using the cloud.

When your files and programs are on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, they take care of the technical security for the space you’re using on their servers. Microsoft invests more than $1 billion in cloud security every year. Do you think that what you’ve got protecting your hardware is more robust than what Microsoft is using? Probably not.

If you need to follow regulatory compliance for data privacy and safety, the cloud is still a very good option for you compared to onsite servers. That doesn’t mean that the responsibility for compliance is off your shoulders. Microsoft is very clear about what parts of compliance they can take care of and which parts remain in your hands.

So if the cloud has good security and it’s an option even if you have compliance requirements, what other benefits can you get when you replace your onsite servers and go to the cloud?

Cloud Benefits for Disaster Recovery

The idea of the cloud is that it’s away from your facility and that in itself is a big benefit because your business operations won’t be dependent on the condition of your physical building. (Think power outage or flooding.)

It’s certainly possible for a power outage to happen wherever your cloud servers are located, but it’s the provider’s responsibility to have generators and redundancies to assure that you have access to your data and systems.

Additionally, Azure has built in data backup services available. This makes backup faster, more efficient and probably more secure than how you’re doing it now. You may even be able to improve your backup strategy when you don’t have to rely on your local internet connection to transfer the data.

Role of IT Support Shifts

When you have your servers in the cloud, you won’t need to deal with software licensing and updates, or hardware maintenance. The role of your managed IT service company will shift a little. Think of your IT systems in the cloud like a building that you’re renting. You control what goes in the building and who goes in and out, but it’s not up to you to make sure that the electrical and plumbing systems are working.

Your managed IT services company will also manage, secure and monitor your endpoints and traffic going to and from your cloud infrastructure. They’ll manage your vendor relationships, including the one with your cloud vendor. They’ll provide a Help Desk for employees when they have issues, as well as onboarding and offboarding as your staff has turnover.

You’ll still need strategic guidance to plan and budget for technology improvements. Your cloud servers will be one component of your entire IT picture and a virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is there to make sure your business is optimizing your use of technology.

Potential Cost Savings

Depending on your current situation, it may be more economical for you to say goodbye to your onsite servers and utilize cloud computing. It’s true that you’ll have more operational costs, but you will eliminate some capital costs.

When you do the math, figure in factors like internet bandwidth and consider the value you’ll receive in security and disaster recovery capability and going to the cloud can be a very wise decision.

Aside from moving your servers to your cloud, you might not have to make too many other adjustments to how you’re working, especially if you have remote workers. Instead of people remoting into your onsite server, they’ll connect to the cloud. That may make their tech tools faster and it could also mean that you can downgrade the amount of internet bandwidth you need at your physical business location.

Cloud Migration and Management for New Orleans Businesses

At Bellwether, we help clients make well-informed decisions about how they can use technology for innovation and growth and that includes optimizing their use of cloud computing. Get in touch to schedule an IT assessment and get another perspective on your current utilization of technology. Even if we don’t end up working together you’ll learn something about your IT situation that you didn’t know before.

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