The Cloud for Small Businesses
Over the past couple of years, you have probably heard of the Cloud. If you are a small business owner, you may even be considering moving to the Cloud. With the overwhelming amount of information out there regarding the Cloud, it can be difficult for small businesses to determine if if the Cloud is a viable option.
Let’s define what the Cloud is and get that out of the way since that seems to be one of the first questions our customers ask when we start our discussions about moving to the Cloud. No, we’re not referring to the white fluffy things in the sky. The Cloud is a web-based data storage service consisting of a network of servers that is hosted by a third party outside of the business’s physical location. Since the data is located online, or in this case “in the Cloud”, a business can access their data from virtually anywhere there is an Internet connection from almost any type of device such as a computer, laptop, cell phone, tablet, etc.
Here are three key questions to ask yourself, as a small business owner, when considering the Cloud.
How sensitive is the data you store on your computer and/or server? For some businesses that store sensitive information such as medical records or confidential client data, the Cloud may not be a viable option due to HIPAA regulations and potential security risks. While there are steps that can be taken by a Cloud provider to secure your data, your information is stored on the Internet and is still susceptible to cyber threats regardless of the security measures taken.
How quickly do you need to recover from a natural disaster such as flooding or a fire? Since the Cloud is Internet based, disaster recovery can be much faster than traditional methods. As long as you have the hardware and an Internet connection, you can literally have your business back up and running on a technical level in a fraction of the time it would normally take.
How much do you spend on IT Services? While the Cloud cannot replace your friendly IT professional, it can help reduce costs with regards to expensive hardware, such as servers, and security software. Don’t forget about the additional cost of maintaining that hardware and updates to the software. If your IT budget isn’t robust enough to include on-site storage devices or the security software needed to keep your data safe, then the Cloud could be a good option for you.
The decision to move to the Cloud should not be made over a cup of coffee in the break room. Make sure you do your research to see if the Cloud is the best fit for your business environment and most importantly…ask questions. Your IT professional can be a wealth of information and provide you with direction in your decision process.