No longer does your company data need to be stored on local computers with the physical speed of connections varying considerably. Taking your business into the cloud offers so many advantages for businesses of all sizes, including saving time and money. But there are risks, many of which can be mitigated if managed carefully.
What is the cloud?
In just a few years, cloud computing has reshaped the economics of IT.
Gone are the days when organisations needed whole rooms, with many banks of linked computers to fulfill their data requirements. Now 73 percent of enterprises have at least one application or a portion of their cloud computing infrastructure in the cloud.
The change to cloud-based services means an organisation’s information is still stored and processed within many banks of computers, but those computers are now housed in many and varied locations off-site, with a network of servers to find and deliver what is needed, when it’s needed.
The speed, reliability, and safety of cloud-based services mean that working in the cloud makes much more financial sense to many businesses than it did even just a few years ago, bringing with it many other advantages also.
Cloud computing has, in many ways leveled the playing field for business. Due to the fact that companies only pay for the storage and services used in the cloud, individuals and startups can access the same massive amounts of computing power as the largest companies for relatively little cost.
Real-time data analysis is another major benefit of doing business in the cloud, such as where enterprise interacts with customers. The results are in efficiency and insight; better, more accurate and quicker decisions from the enterprise, giving an improved experience for customers and more accurate internal analysis.
IDG’s Cloud Computing Research estimates that in just 2018 alone, enterprises will invest US$2.2 million on cloud apps, platforms, and other cloud-based services, continuing the upward trend in previous years. Software, Infrastructure, and Platform-as-a-Service (also known as SaaS, IaaS and PaaS) make up the bulk of the spending.
As well as offering real-time data solutions, it means no more money wasted on infrastructure, software or licensing.
SaaS and these other cloud-based softwares provide customisation and personalisation to all users. Products delivered as a SaaS model are easily customisable to either fit with existing systems and to meet the functionalities required by customers, with updates automated. It also means that disparate workforces can be more easily unified, as these cloud-based services are compatible across different devices and accessible from varied locations.
Moving towards 2020, IDG Cloud Computing Research showed almost 95 per cent of all organisations will be utilising SaaS applications, with IaaS and PaaS also expected to dominate organisations’ technology focus.
What this underscores is how important it is to ensure every business remains relevant by receiving the most up-to-date advice and in recruiting personnel, who are knowledgeable in cloud environments and analytics.
So rather than “why cloud?” the question should be “why not cloud?” And the answer to that lies in safety and protection.
Protecting yourself in the cloud
Despite its generally excellent record, the cloud still raises questions about privacy and security.
According to research from Symantec, phishing scams selectively target around 400 businesses every day, with a cost of around US$3 billion per year. Adding in the risk of provider security breaches, as well as well as other cyber piracy such as ransomware, it’s understandable that many enterprises feel wary about relying heavily on the cloud.
There are however some simple steps businesses can take to protect cloud-based processes and their or their customers’ information.
- Undertake an audit and know what type of information you have;
- Use encryption, multi-factor authentication, passwords, and other governance privileges, ensuring only people who need to access particular sets of data can do so;
- Consider other ways staff can access company data, such as via mobile phone or tablet remotely and protect or restrict accordingly;
- Train all staff to recognise potential security threats and cyber attacks and actions to contain them;
- Ensure IT staff with the most up-to-date knowledge are employed and retained, and enable them to keep building on this knowledge;
- Plan for a disaster and always have a backup strategy.