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If you have your data in the cloud, or find yourself working in the cloud, then you have a physical presence somewhere.

The cloud provides IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS through the internet, allowing you to access services locally without having a room full of local equipment assets.

Most cloud services can be accessed through web browsers and mobile apps.

There are plenty of examples of cloud-based services you likely use every day.  Gmail, Dropbox, and Amazon all offer software and/or storage solutions that allow you to keep your data stored, under your control, without requiring a local storage solution.

As long as you have data access and a valid subscription, you are usually able to use your cloud-based resources at any time.

Benefits of Using the Cloud

  • Apps can be customized to fit exact needs with precise scalability.
  • New apps can be brought to the market at lower costs on the enterprise level.
  • Companies are able to determine their level of control with available options.
  • Encryption and API keys ensure the highest levels of data security.
  • Remote resources are used, which reduces initial capital expenses.
  • Worldwide access allows for greater collaboration opportunities.

What Are IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS?

IaaS stands for “infrastructure as a service.”  This cloud computing option provides virtual computer resources through a data connection.

When implemented, it provides instant computing infrastructure.

When you use cloud-based infrastructure services, you have more flexibility and scalability. You gain access to the latest infrastructure technology innovations while limiting your costs, which gives your business a chance to focus on growth.

Infrastructure can include any of the hardware you’d traditionally have on-premise–such as email servers, servers for running and delivering apps and servers to build custom applications on.

PaaS stands for “platform as a service.”

PaaS is a more easily used version of IaaS.  In PaaS, the cloud vendor is offering a ‘ready-to-go’ environment that can be used for development or running existing software.

Unlike in IaaS, where the responsibility for setting up the environment depends wholly on you–including setting up storage, choosing operating systems and other decisions, PaaS offers a pre-set environment in the cloud (usually based on typical requirements).

This can be really useful for coders and other IT workers who don’t have a lot of infrastructure expertise.

These platforms are specifically designed to improve productivity.

PaaS offers the ability to quickly add new users, reduce skill requirements to be productive, and allows you to allocate resources in real-time. Immediate scalability leads to reduced lead times and lower initial capital expenditures.

SaaS stands for “software as a service.” This is a software distribution option, also based in the cloud, where third-party providers will host apps or software as they are made available to consumers online.

When using software as a service, you immediately benefit by reducing your maintenance costs. There are fewer (or no) repairs needed because the provider is responsible for restoring functionality and maintaining the server hardware the software runs on.

This allows you to reduce the amount of unexpected downtime from faulty software.

SaaS is usually offered on a subscription basis as well, which can mean lower up-front costs and more flexibility to add and remove users (as opposed to buying traditional software licenses.)  You’ll also get regular access to software updates without having to purchased upgrades.

the 3 major cloud providers

Should You Be Moving to the Cloud?

One of the most important reasons to consider a move to the cloud is the disaster insurance such a move provides. For many SMBs (small- to medium-sized businesses), having strong data recovery backups on a local level is an investment many cannot afford to make.

Through the cloud, more organizations can recover their data if an emergency occurs because their data is stored off-site. That saves time, reduces the need to hire local expertise, and reduces capital expenditures simultaneously.

Moving to the cloud makes it easier to create a better work-life balance as well. With access available through any internet connection, employees gain access to mobile working solutions.

telecommute

36% of people would choose to telecommute instead of receiving a raise.

Another 10% of employees say they’d take a pay cut if they could work from home.

Being on the cloud means you’ve got more control over your documents too. Instead of having a back-and-forth over email with numerous attached documents, many which eventually get lost, everyone gains access to the same files. Collaboration can occur in real-time.

That eliminates the problems of different versions, titles, and formats.

There is also a socially conscious reason for considering the cloud. You consume less energy when your resources are cloud-based because you have fewer equipment assets. That means you only use what you need to use and nothing more.

Potential Disadvantages of Moving to the Cloud

Although there are many benefits to think about when considering a move to the cloud, there are some potential disadvantages to consider.

If you’re internet connection at your business is not high-speed and regularly up, you’ll have issues accessing your software.  For most businesses today, a business-grade high speed connection will suffice.

Security is another question which must be answered.

Your data must be stored somewhere. That means there is always the possibility that an unauthorized user could gain access to this information. The risks are usually smaller than if an organization maintained their own data locally, though it is still a point that must be considered.

Then there are the vendor agreements.

Review each one carefully before moving to cloud-based services. It may be difficult to move your data to your preferred vendor. Some vendors may not permit you to migrate your data to another vendor.

At the same time, you only have minimal control over what happens. In cloud computing, you generally do not receive access to the back-end infrastructure of what is being provided.

How Long Does It Take to Migrate to the Cloud?

This depends on the organization.  But remember, you don’t have to move everything to the cloud all at once.

One of the nicest aspects of modern IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS options is that most providers offer a “try before you buy” option. That allows you to see if the cloud-based solutions hold value for your current business needs.

Every organization is unique, however, so migration times may vary. It is important to remember that the migration period can be problematic for ongoing productivity, so plan the timing wisely to limit disruptions.

Once you get past the migration, you will find that the cloud provides numerous benefits that improve the health of a brand and business. Account for the potential disadvantages and there is a good chance that you’ll save time, money, and frustration by moving to the cloud.