Despite the fact that it has had such a transformational effect on so many businesses and marketplaces, many organisations are still too afraid to adopt cloud computing.
I have seen many flimsy barriers placed in cloud computing's path over the last few months, from it posing an increased security risk to the prospect of losing control. Some businesses have always had an in-house IT person and cannot see life continuing without them.
Many of these points have been put together by traditional tin vendors. After dismissing cloud at its inception, some vendors have missed out on its benefits and are now desperately trying to play catch-up after the horse has already bolted.
Unwitting cloud adopters
I like to sit back and soak up these conversations, before asking “have you tried cloud before?” The answer will inevitably be “no”, but often without realising it, many companies are actually already using the cloud for very important business functions. If the cloud is so dangerous, why are they using Salesforce? It's a cloud-based CRM system. Why are they putting financial information on Sage, which is all saved in the cloud?
A lot of organisations are already unwittingly using the same technology they feel too afraid to use.
Look at it this way: a good in-house IT employee comes with a cost – not just their wages, but also training, the tools to do their job with, the in-house IT infrastructure and server room within which they work – and the technology required to protect the servers from external breaches. Not only does all of this cost money but it will also take up physical office space at a time when it has become even more costly than ever.
Many mid-market businesses will simply not be able to afford that. With an office-in-the-cloud provider like Intermedia your data is stored in an air-cooled, purpose-built and secure UK data centre. With a traditional in-house system, if your office burned down, what would you do? How about if somebody tried to break in – do you have a secure room, or is all that business-critical equipment just sat in a back room?
And what if that employee left the organisation, taking all your login details and passwords with them? It would take a long time to change passwords and cancel inactive logins, and sometimes this never happens, leaving the organisation exposed. With an office-in-the-cloud system, you can stay firmly in control and these can be instantly re-assigned in a few clicks.
Stick to your strengths
I see businesses of all sizes scaling up in-house IT resources to cope with the ever-growing demand to service users as well as managing on-premise systems. But if you do not deliver IT as your core business function, then you should look at the technologies that are available to help you become more productive. Concentrate on what you are good at, and spend less time and resource on being an IT enabler.
Once it is understood that these fears are misplaced, you are free to move forward as a more agile operation. You must be lean to survive as a modern business, and running an office in the cloud means that if you need to open an office on the other side of the world tomorrow, as long as an internet connection is available, you will be able to. You can't do that with traditional server room technology, no matter who you are.
Contributed by Aidan Simister, director, Intermedia EMEA