In the second of a series of articles about the benefits that can be had off the back of leased line infrastructure, FlexFibre examines how access to the Cloud can benefit your business and what it could mean for your organisation.
Technology is moving forward faster than ever before, and many small and medium sized businesses are in danger of being left out. Those companies without a dedicated technology or IT officer are in particular danger of failing to keep up with innovations and the advantages these can offer their businesses.
In the second of FlexFibre’s series of articles on ‘What benefits can a leased line bring to your business,’ we describe what having access to the Cloud could mean for your company and the way you work. The implications include reducing costs over the long term, and increasing productivity through accessing better technology, as well as fundamental changing the way you can add value to your client.
What is the Cloud?
The Cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet. The chances are you are using one on a daily basis: Netflix is a Cloud based service. Youtube is as well. Uber depends entirely upon the Cloud. Almost certainly your private email addresses, if they are from Google or Hotmail or Yahoo, are as well. But it is more than just the service being provided online, and being accessible from anywhere – Cloud computing should also be recognised for allowing vast computing power to be brought into use by any client: so an artist uploading and then editing a video or picture on a Cloud based software program might be using technology that would have previously been too large and expensive for them purchase and store on their home computer.
The Cloud has essentially enabled powerful computing software programs to become available not as a single expensive product, but as a service, accessible all the time over the Internet and from anywhere.
So what benefits can the Cloud offer my small business?
The cost saving:
Using the Cloud for your business will allow you to reduce costs. If you are currently using your own servers inside your own premises, (as well as maintaining them and upgrading them), then the Cloud could offer an excellent value for money alternative. And it is scalable as well. If you take on more staff, or need more storage capacity, then this can be added to your Cloud hosted service with near instantaneous speed. There would be no need for engineer waiting times or shiny new boxes being delivered in even bigger cardboard boxes! And there is also no up front capital expenditure on expensive new servers.
The same is also true of the services hosted on the Cloud. A company can sign up to a new service in a matter of moments: be it Microsoft Office, Salesforce, Quickbooks Accounting or Sage, or any number of cutting edge CRM systems. Software that in previous years would have cost a high up front fee is now available on a monthly basis as a service, with upgrades and tutorials and help available for their users.
2. Security and disaster recovery:
From natural disasters such as floods, snowstorms and heatwaves to man made perfidy of hacking and theft, using the Cloud can help mitigate the risk to your business in a substantial way. First is the simple fact that much of your data will be kept off site in a premises that is designed to be safe from such risks. This also includes your company’s software memberships too – so if the premises were to be destroyed then these would still be accessible via an Internet connection. Likewise, but to a lesser degree, the servers would not necessarily be required in your premises – they too could be remote, which means they wouldn’t be at risk if the worst happened.
And one thing about the Cloud and its software as a service model is that the companies who provide it are continually updating it and examining their products for hacking vulnerabilities in a way which an individual SME company could never realistically do. In combination with a dedicated leased line to the data centre, which is more secure than standard broadband connections with shared users, then much of your business’s disaster recovery is taken care of.
3. Access to Enterprise level software:
The Cloud has brought with it a democratisation of software power. What would once have been exclusive to large companies with considerable budgets, the Cloud has enabled new pricing models to be developed that has facilitated a wider uptake of Enterprise level software amongst smaller companies.
This has changed some entire industries quite radically, with the likes of Uber and Netflix working on Cloud-based technologies, but the advantages should not be underestimated for SME organisations either. With new marketing platforms that bring together everything from social media to website and content management and new communications packages such as Voice Over Internet Protocol, there are many options for an SME business to be able to increase their capability and to gain efficiencies in their operations at the same time. In a sense, the Cloud lets you get more for less.
4. The ability to work from anywhere:
With all your data and software applications hosted in the Cloud, then the potential also appears for changing how you work on a more fundamental level. For some, it has allowed them to cut back on the office space they require as more of their work can be done from home by remote staff. This not only has the effect of reducing the overheads that a large workspace brings with it, but also allows the SME company to widen its search for talented staff who live beyond the traditional locality of their business.
Cloud platforms can also be viewed as a virtual marketplace as well, where sellers will offer their skills and work on a flexible basis for businesses, thus enabling them to collaborate on tasks such as design and programming. In a sense, it offers the business with Cloud access and collaborative software the ability to scale up their workforce for certain products.
A case study in a business taking advantage of the Cloud:
Necessity is the mother for invention. For a small marketing company in the south west of England, this mantra was proven true when an opportunity for lead generation changed the direction of their entire business. They had tested a new website, built from in-house programmers, backed by a new marketing system to encourage sign ups across a range of social media sites, and it had been met with approval by a number of their clients.
Seeking to scale this up and to make it available for other sectors, the SME realised it didn’t have the in-house capacity to achieve this. Therefore, desperate for skilled workers, they turned to the Cloud and its collaborative work share programs. Very quickly, they were able to scale up their workforce and product development progressed at pace.
Through Cloud based collaboration and project management software such as Slack, and with workers from across the globe contributing to the programming and design of their new platform, the marketing agency was able to develop a product of their own that was a step change in the way they had generated leads before.
The FlexFibre leased line Cloud advantage:
Getting access to the Cloud for a team of more than 5 needs a better service than just a broadband connection. To make the most of Cloud services, then your upload and download speeds have to be comparable if you wish to engage in any ‘live’ work through its systems – such as having a conference call with remote workers. If either one is too slow, then you might find yourselves talking over one another as the data packets fall victim to ‘latency.’ With FlexFibre’s dedicated leased line service, access to the Cloud can be scaled up if more bandwidth is required, often in real time, enabling your business to take full advantage of its many services.
So if you require a leased line service for your organisation to take advantage of Cloud technology, then contact our FlexFibre consultants for a friendly chat.