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Hey! You! Get Off of My Cloud! Pros and Perils of a Cloud-Based Business Solution

all the cool kids use the cloud for their business technology needsYou’ve heard the term “cloud” before, haven’t you. I bet 99% of you have. But do you actually know what it means? More importantly, do you know what it means for your business? While it may be trendy to jump on the “cloud” bandwagon, it is an important decision that will have drastic effects on your business and how it operates. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons to decide if a cloud-based solution is right for you.

What is this “cloud”? If we ask Google, we get the following basic description “The cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet instead of your computer.” This buzzword has become commonplace in the tech and IT industry after it was made popular by Apple a few years back with its “iCloud”. The fact is, the cloud has existed for many years but it just didn’t have such an illustrious name. In fact, the Internet itself is a “cloud” of sorts, and we were using that many years before Apple came around.

IdeaThe biggest benefit of the cloud is in being able to store your data so that it is accessible on different devices. Need to reference a pricing sheet to make sales? If the document is stored in the cloud, you could pull that document from your laptop during a sales presentation, and then again later from your phone while on the go. This can be a great benefit for teams who need to collaborate to stay on the same page or for project managers who need to have project assets readily available at all times.

Cloud computing allows you to work from anywhere where you have a good Internet connection. However, if you don’t have a fast connection, or worse no connection at all, your files will be inaccessible, or take twice as long to download and upload which may result in corrupted file transfers. But you don’t have to worry about data loss, right? If your computer tanks, just re-download your files and you’re back where you left off. Well, it’s not always that simple. Unless you are backing up your entire computer as a snapshot, you’ll still have to reinstall all your programs reset all your options, etc. Having your files backed up to the cloud is a smart decision but it shouldn’t replace traditional forms of backup, it should be added as a form of redundancy for your backup routine.

thinking about when is it time to redo your websiteThe costs of moving to the cloud are minimal, generally, just upload your documents and you’re all set; just grab and go from any device. However, as time goes on, the cloud is exponentially more expensive than traditional storage mediums. Not only are you paying for the disk space which is a hot commodity, you are also paying for the bandwidth used to stream those files back and forth repeatedly as you make changes. It’s easy to exceed the cost of a traditional server by thousands of dollars for a much smaller amount of disk space in the cloud; a few hundred dollars could add a terabyte drive to a traditional server, but might allot you only a few gigabytes on a cloud platform.

Another major concern is for your privacy, and the privacy of the files you store. You may think having your files saved remotely would improve your security. There isn’t a physical drive susceptible to physical damage or tampering, nor the need to maintain a consistent IT department to manage a server and keep up on security updates. But instead all of your data is stored within the hands of some other company with its own privacy policy and data retention policies. Do you trust someone else with your data? When you have your own IT person, you are able to gauge your level of trust with them and if you don’t feel they are doing a good job they can be replaced. Most cloud providers are only dealt with through their website, and you have no control over their personnel.

If for some reason authorities ask to search through the data on the server, many companies don’t even require a search warrant. Make sure you know the privacy policies of any company you’re dealing with.

This blog may sound like it is encouraging you to steer away from the cloud, which was certainly not the intent. We just want you to question, understand, and think about the decision to switch to the cloud, rather than just switching because it’s what all the cool people seem to be doing. There are benefits and cons to both a traditional server environment and the cloud concept be sure you understand the benefits to both to make the best decision for your business.

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