Making the transition to the cloud is a big step for any business. As the technology has grown increasingly popular among companies looking to stay agile, you’ve no doubt considered it yourself.
Often our clients approach us knowing that they want to take the leap, but without the foggiest clue as where to begin. IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, EFFS… even once you get past the gibberish-sounding acronyms, the thought of sifting through all the different options — and there are A LOT of options — can seem pretty overwhelming. So, where do you even start?
First things first, it’s good to briefly understand the acronyms we mentioned above, because you see them a lot in cloud computing discussions, as well as the various services they coincide with.
IaaS means “infrastructure as a service.” A great example is Amazon Web Services (AWS), whose enormous server farms provide users with a highly flexible and easily scalable (up or down) virtualized computing infrastructure managed over the internet. AWS comprises more than 90 different services, some of which also fall under SaaS and PaaS.
PaaS is platform as a service, which provides coders and developers with enterprise cloud-based collaboration tools. Like AWS, Microsoft Azure is a prime example of the PaaS-IaaS-SaaS multi-hyphenate, with a wide variety of on-demand services available to businesses and individuals.
Software as a service, or SaaS, is the one of these four you’re likely most familiar with — in part because it’s the one we all use every day. Gmail, anyone? Google Apps, Office 365, and Adobe Creative Cloud are just a few of the numerous providers of SaaS — software that is licensed, accessed, and delivered via the web. Another big one is SharePoint, whose major draw for businesses is its extensive functionality as a collaboration and internal content management platform. Because it allows colleagues to easily distribute documents to one another, it’s sometimes lumped into the next and last acronym on our list: EFSS.
Much like SaaS, there’s a decent chance you’ve used EFSS too. Unlike the others, enterprise file synchronization and sharing doesn’t need much more than a one word explanation: Dropbox. Though mostly used by smaller teams and consumers, Dropbox recently decided to jump into the ring as an enterprise provider. They’ve been making a push towards market credibility with G-Suite and Salesforce integrations, but despite their efficiency as a file sharing system they face stiff competition from more established providers. In addition to Microsoft’s OneDrive, they’ll have to overcome the significant market share held by the similarly named Box, which since the outset has been primarily geared towards providing large enterprise companies with a flexible work platform alongside solutions to more complex content management issues.
After you’ve gotten a better understanding of which cloud services fit your needs, there are still other considerations you’ll have to keep in mind. One of the things most often overlooked by companies are their internet speeds. Because cloud computing requires a lot more bandwidth than you’d previously used, it can be a pretty substantial hidden expense.
On top of your shifting needs for speed are potential hardware changes. Some cloud applications such as AWS only require what is referred to as a “thin client” or a very basic PC as the infrastructure is all built on Amazon’s servers and only the bare minimum for the computer is needed to access. If you are using Dropbox or Box and syncing files to your desktop, then there are also considerations that need to be made as to how large of a hard drive you require. Depending on the type of files being worked on or synced, it might be necessary to redetermine RAM or processor needs.
Keep in mind, your syncing needs might also change for your mobile workforce, so mobile device specs should be reconsidered alongside those of your desktop hardware. On top of that, certain applications might have licensing issues that crop up during your migration to the cloud. In order to prevent downtime, check to make sure that your existing licenses allow for cloud use.
Mobility and flexibility are two of the biggest advantages of cloud computing, but there are potential security issues in the offing that must be taken into account. One of the scarier scenarios is what can happen if a user accesses the cloud on an unsecure network at home or while traveling. If not careful, your workers can inadvertently expose your sensitive company data to hackers via “man in the middle” attacks.
Also of concern is the accessibility of data after an employee leaves the company. If apps are downloaded to view docs in the cloud, then your business would need to make sure that removing access to them is part of its employee offboarding process.
While there is a lot to consider, including the potential security risks, moving to the cloud has provided our clients with innumerable benefits. Getting to that point can be a challenge, particularly with all of the options one has to pour over, but the cost-benefit analyses we’ve helped businesses like yours perform all point clearly in one direction: upwards, to the cloud.
Contact JNT TEK for an evaluation of your current infrastructure to find out which cloud solutions are best for your business.