For many companies, that answer will be a resounding “Yes.” It’s a matter of economics, support and access. Doing everything yourself has the lure of being totally in control of your destiny. In return, you have to come up with the capital investment in new equipment, the staff to run everything and the ongoing cost of maintenance. Often, that means giving up the ability to respond quickly to a changing business environment. It’s just too expensive to have personnel and equipment on standby, “just in case.”
Another strong selling point of many cloud providers is that they can afford to keep with the very latest technology trends. You may have to wait until your equipment is fully depreciated or until you can come up with the funding in order to get all the latest features available on the newest models of equipment. Hotly competing cloud companies have no choice but to stay at the cutting edge of technology or risk being put out of business by other more nimble providers.
Disaster recovery can be much easier with a cloud-based system. The cloud operator builds in the necessary redundancies, including geographical diversity so that no single event can knock out the whole system. All you need is access. That’s a lot easier to come by than having to reorder an entire data center’s worth of equipment and software and getting it up and running. Even with remote or cloud backup, it can take days or weeks to fully download and restore your business database. With everything in the cloud, the data is online at all times and unaffected by situations that cut off your connectivity or destroy your local offices.
Some companies have unusually high bandwidth requirements. Content providers who stream video over the Internet or provide programming to Internet Service Providers require massive amounts of bandwidth. It’s not uncommon to need 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps or even 40 Gbps to support live streaming of multiple HD video programs. That kind of bandwidth is readily available in cloud data centers, but might not be available locally. You may be faced with moving your operation in order to get the fiber optic connections you need to conduct business. If your servers are in the cloud with high speed connections it takes the pressure off the line speed requirements from your office to the cloud.
What’s available now in the cloud? It’s pretty much everything you need to run a small, medium or large scale business. Virtual servers with virtual storage give you all the computing power and disk space that you’ll ever need. You can ramp these resources up and down using a desktop control panel in real time. This is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Along with the infrastructure, you are going to need software. Software as a Service (SaaS) complements IaaS so that you pay by the month by usage for all your software and hardware. A related component, Platform as a Service (PaaS) is the cloud version of a development system where you get things customized and working. You only buy this as you need to do development. Security as a Service is a add-on feature that protects your network from intrusion. Once again, it is running from within the cloud.
Even the telephone system has a cloud equivalent. This is called Hosted PBX or Hosted VoIP. The switching system and connection to the public telephone network is all done by the cloud service provider. You install SIP telephones that connect to your network and use a special line called a SIP trunk to connect with the provider. You no longer need to buy and maintain an in-house PBX. Some vendors will even include free SIP phones with your service.
Have you been watching cloud developments but hesitant to get involved? This is a great time to get competitive prices and features on cloud computing and communications appropriate for your size business. If you like the answers, you can easily sign up for service and enjoy the new features and cost savings for all of 2013.