Cloud computing allows businesses to operate servers and software over the internet, instead of relying on on-premises solutions. Most organizations already use some form of cloud computing – be it Microsoft 365, Zoom, or Salesforce – but uptake is increasing due to its availability and scalability.
Migrating your business to the cloud comes with huge payoffs, but it’s no easy task. Technical expertise and financial investment are required, while moving your network infrastructure and data online necessitates advanced cybersecurity measures.
So, why move to the cloud? If your business is still operating on-premises, you’ve probably experienced severe setbacks during the pandemic. With the greatly increased reliance on remote workforces, businesses using cloud computing have enjoyed a significant advantage. Meanwhile, those relying on physical servers and computers are trailing behind. If this sounds like your business, read on to find out how you can catch up with the competition by moving to the cloud.
Benefits of cloud computing
Here are the top 5 reasons you should consider moving to the cloud:
As recent events have taught us, flexibility is key to success – and the cloud provides just that. But it’s not only the ability to to work from anywhere that we’re talking about. Cloud services typically offer flexible subscription models that charge per user per month or only for what you use. This has made it possible for smaller businesses to take advantage of enterprise-level tools. And it makes these tools highly scalable, which is ideal for fast-growing businesses or those whose requirements are changeable.
Cloud-based file storage, sharing, and workflow applications enable employees to collaborate online in real time, on any device, from anywhere. This is invaluable for remote work, as it eliminates reliance on a physical office and network. It is also ideal for projects with multiple contributors, as comments and changes can be applied and reviewed in a single, live document, rather than in multiple offline files that then need to be shared via email.
- Productivity gains
Both the agility and collaborative capabilities of cloud computing contribute to increased productivity among employees. Easy access to work files from portable devices like tablets and mobile phones enable working on the go, which generally improves quality of life and satisfaction levels among employees. Plus, greater visibility means processes are streamlined, since less time is spent waiting for colleagues to share documents or compiling comments from multiple sources into a master document.
- Improved BCDR
Every organization needs a robust business continuity and disaster recovery plan to protect it in the event of a cyber attack, data breach, data loss, or natural disaster. A key part of this is data backup and recovery. The cloud provides an affordable, scalable, offsite storage solution and can enable real-time, automated backups, as well as swift data recovery, ensuring important business data is safe and accessible at all times.
- Reduced capital expenditure
Since the cloud operates on remote servers, and cloud-based applications favor the subscription-based approach, gone is the need for upfront expenditure on hardware and software. Cloud networks also demand less maintenance, space, and IT support than on-site servers. At the same time, the cloud helps businesses transition from a traditional office environment to a work-from-home setup, which reduces the cost of facilities and utilities.
What are the costs of moving to cloud computing?
Now we’ve established how your business can benefit from moving to the cloud, it’s time to look at the costs for cloud computing. As we have seen, moving to the cloud from on-premises servers and physical network infrastructure comes with many benefits, but it also presents some new costs of its own. They include these four:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS providers host your full server environment in the cloud. Common cloud computing solutions for business include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform. Due to the vast range of products offered by each, pricing varies widely depending on your business needs, including your RAM and storage requirements. Head to the Microsoft Azure Pricing Calculator (starting from $14.60/month) and the AWS Pricing Calculator to find estimates for your business.
- Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
By moving to the cloud, you may be able to sell off most of your servers and physical network infrastructure – and forgo all the storage, cooling, admin, and maintenance costs they require – but don’t forget that you will need to transition to a virtual environment. VDI software enables businesses to consolidate their hardware resources and access their remote desktops, storage and operating systems virtually and securely within their network.
Common VDI solutions include Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) on Microsoft Azure, Amazon WorkSpaces, and VMware Horizon Cloud. Associated costs include implementation, licensing, server infrastructure, operations and maintenance, and ongoing fees for virtual servers/machines (VMs). VMs are typically priced on a pay-as-you-go basis or more cost-friendly long term plans of 1-to-3 years; Azure quotes the average monthly cost for one virtual machine at $152. These costs can be added into your pricing calculations for IaaS.
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS involves subscribing to software that is delivered from the cloud, instead of purchasing it outright and deploying it on a server or PC. For smaller companies, paying on a seat-by-seat subscription basis can be a huge cost-saver, but the monthly fees can be significant. This means larger companies may find it more cost effective to purchase the software and host it in a cloud colocation. To decide which solution is best, carry out an ROI calculation to determine the inflection point and value of a particular software within your business.
Here are the subscription prices for three common SaaS providers:
|CRM & Sales||Starter||$45 (2 users; $23/ additional user)|
|Professional||$450 (5 users; $90/ additional user)|
|Enterprise||$1,200 (10 users; $120/ additional user)|
|Marketing||Starter||$45 (1,000 contacts)|
|Professional||$800 (2,000 contacts)|
|Enterprise||$3,200 (10,000 contacts)|
|Essentials (1 user)||$25/user|
|Professional (1 user)||$75/user|
|Enterprise (1 user)||$150/user|
|Unlimited (1 user)||$300/user|
- Data backup, security, and business continuity
Don’t forget that moving to the cloud comes with unique security requirements, meaning you will need to invest in cloud-cybersecurity services or applications. You can find out more about how to secure your data in the cloud here.
Many businesses mistakenly assume that cloud platforms automatically back up their data securely, but in reality around a third of SaaS users report losing data in the cloud. Even though the big players have advanced security and recovery procedures in place, their SLAs do not promise these systems are failproof.As well as reviewing IaaS and SaaS providers’ SLAs for their outage policies and security monitoring, reporting, and recovery protocols, businesses should investigate reviews and historical downtime of providers. It is also important to put your own BCDR and data backup systems in place. Check out our article on data backup, recovery, and business continuity for tips.
How to determine which cloud solution is right for you
Before you move any part of your operations to the cloud, it is important to establish which solution is right for your business. Since the costs of reversing cloud migration can be substantial, it is best to get it right the first time around.
Start by performing a business process analysis. This will allow you to identify which of your business systems will produce the greatest ROI and benefit most from cloud migration, with the least risk and complexity.
Some of the most obvious elements to move into the cloud include email, data backup, and file sync and share. Line of business applications such as invoicing systems, CRMs, and production management tools will need deeper analysis based on your goals, budgets, policies, business readiness, and existing technology framework.
Next, you will need to determine which cloud service models you require: IaaS, SaaS, and/or PaaS (Platform as a Service), which provides a platform to build a service or application environment that you can use in the cloud.
Once you have chosen your cloud model, you will need to decide between a public, private, or hybrid cloud types. Your resources can be hosted publicly by a third-party cloud provider, such as Microsoft Azure or AWS; alternatively, you can create your own private cloud, or you can opt for a hybrid of the two. The latter is useful when businesses still want to benefit from the cost savings of public cloud, but need to process certain confidential data privately.
Before selecting a public cloud service, you should examine the service-level agreement (SLA) to ascertain how they will deal with outages and what their security monitoring and reporting protocols of services are.
For more tips on how to make the cloud work for your business, check out this webinar.
With so many factors to consider, you may want to enlist external help with your business’s cloud migration.
Start implementing your cloud solution today
To find out how Leverage IT’s CloudScale Cloud Solutions could benefit your business, click below to schedule a call with our advisory team. We will work with you to implement a clear roadmap that ensures your specific operational and security requirements are met.