The “cloud” is a popular term and you hear about it everywhere. But what is the cloud and what is cloud computing? The term “cloud” comes from the drawing of a cloud (used in project management) that surrounds all technology items that are supposed to work together to share data (see the picture attached to this post). So, will cloud computing help you to make more money and stay more protected against viruses, malware and other intrusions? Let’s take a look at the three main points for going to cloud computing:

  1. What is the cloud and whom does it generally benefit?
  2. How many locations do you have, or do you have remote workers?
  3. Are the programs you are using now able to be “cloudified”?

What is the cloud and who generally benefits?

Cloud computing has actually been around for decades. In the 1960’s, the client/server computing structure was the only way to access a server using “dummy” terminals to access the big mainframe. Over the past 10 years, websites like Facebook and smart devices like phones, laptops and tablets have converged to allow you to access your data from any device at any time. This all-encompassing structure is everywhere now, including medical records access at a doctor’s office to commercial and residential transactions for real estate, to banking transactions for the financial services industry.

Cloud computing for small and medium businesses has taken off quickly with programs such as Dropbox, Egnyte and OneDrive. These programs allow you to share your data to anyone and on any device. You are no longer tied to a desktop computer at your office. The benefit of cloud computing is lower hardware costs as you can put your most-used programs on a rented server in a data center.

Many businesses are looking at a “hybrid-cloud” with some of their programs on a rented server and some on their internal server to comply with industry and security requirements while still giving access to their employees and vendors.

How many locations do you have, or do you have remote workers?

If you have one office in one city, cloud computing may not be the best solution at this time —especially if you have no remote workers or you don’t want your vendors to log into your system for access to specific data. Businesses are seeing success with cloud computing when they have a large number of transactions with vendors who need access to company data. Cloud computing allows you to segment your computing resources and data — some for inside staff and some for external users and vendors.

If you have multiple locations, cloud computing also allows you to give access to your remote locations with enhanced security as they aren’t directly connecting to your internal corporate-office network. Cloud computing, whether on a server in a rented data center or in a hybrid environment, is another way to increase your Business Continuity abilities and to enhance your disaster recovery plan. The more ways you can protect your internal network, the better.

Are the programs you are using now able to be “cloudified”?

Yes, “cloudified” is a made-up word, but it works to explain the process of making sure your standard programs can exist in a cloud environment. Many older programs will not play nicely with a cloud or hybrid cloud environment. You may also have certain programs that are governed by an industry-compliance requirement that does not allow it to be on a shared server in a data center. (Many cloud services that you can rent put your programs and data on a shared server that is occupied by other companies’ programs and data — all separated on different hard drive partitions for security.)

Many software vendors are re-writing their programs to work in a cloud environment and on shared servers, but very few at this time allow for it. What is actually happening more often now is that software vendors are creating their own cloud systems and selling you their software as a subscription (i.e.: Microsoft Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud, Salesforce, etc.). You will need your IT person to contact each software vendor and ensure that their program has been tested in a cloud/shared environment. You will also need to determine if you need additional user licenses for your software if you have outside users/vendors accessing your programs and data.

Conclusion

Moving to a cloud computing environment still has a lot of small and medium businesses here in Phoenix and throughout Arizona on the fence as to whether they should move forward. Security (hacking and intrusion) concerns as well as the level of service and support from the data center where you would host your programs and data are all causing pause and reflection. Make sure to work closely with competent IT support to ensure you have taken all precautions and looked at the benefits of cloud computing in your business. Just because it’s the latest and greatest doesn’t mean its right for your business.

About Nova Mesa Computers

Nova Mesa Computers is a premiere, Phoenix, Arizona-based builder of servers, workstations, laptops, desktops, storage systems and digital signage computers. Nova Mesa specializes in working with clients to determine what hardware will meet the needs of the software being used. Standard and custom configurations are available using standards-based components and a strong attention to computer-building detail. We use better computer components and follow it up with better service. When you call for support, you’ll speak with the people who build the computers, not someone reading off a script. Contact Nova Mesa Computers at 623-580-6848 (Toll Free: 1-855-978-6353) or at www.novamesa.com.