Sarah Flowers – The Cloud Explained in Plain English
By Sarah Flowers, Sales Director at swcomms
What is the Cloud?
The cloud has long been the buzz word of the IT and communications industry, which means Exeter business like yours will have been exposed to it too.
For most businesses, dealing with new technology is just another item on a list that will be dealt with when you have time. You will be far more concerned with meeting your business’s immediate and everyday needs rather than trying to get your head around something you may or may not be interested in.
Just take the term ‘the cloud’. It leads people to imagine their data and IT systems floating around in the sky. People even point to the sky when they talk about the cloud!
The cloud in fact represents a global collection of super-secure data centres full of servers hosting all manner of information and applications.
Most of us will be using the cloud in some way already. If you take photos on your iPhone, these are often duplicated to the iCloud, so you can retrieve them wherever you have an internet connection to free up storage space on your device.
You will also receive iOS updates for your Apple devices via the cloud too. You don’t have to upload anything physically; it is automatically done for you.
Other cloud apps include messaging services like WhatsApp or social media platforms like Instagram, while for businesses, one of the most popular is Microsoft’s Office 365.
While many of you think you have not begun migrating to the cloud, you are probably already on your way without realising it.
However, it does feel like a different scenario when an IT expert advises you to host your business data and systems in the cloud too. There is something comforting about being able to see the pieces of hardware that are critical to your business; after all, they often contain your CRM, email and accounting systems, etc.
So, what’s the best way to dip your toe into the corporate cloud?
I would suggest starting with your telephone system.
Just like your Small Business Server or whatever you run your business on, your phone system is a piece of hardware. It needs the right environmental conditions, regular updates, and the support of your IT team. Meanwhile, you will also be paying for a maintenance contract to ensure it can be quickly fixed in the event of a fault, along with your monthly line rental and call charges.
With a cloud-hosted telephone system, the hardware resides in a secure data centre. It is resilient, scalable and is automatically upgraded as new features and applications become available. No more dusty servers that will be declared obsolete at some point!
The benefits of migrating to a cloud telephone system do not stop there. Many of our customers are using the Gamma Horizon solution we deploy because of the cost savings it brings. They do not have to pay an upfront cost, which means their precious capital remains untouched, and their monthly per user costs include free calls to UK landlines and mobiles.
And, in homage to the title of this magazine, it supports any plans to grow. Extra staff can be very easily added irrespective of their location – head office, branch office or at home.
Taking a measured approach to cloud adoption is sensible. You need to feel comfortable, which is why I suggest this initial step. The benefits really do stack up. Once you are content with knowing your telephone system hardware is no longer on site and is working well for you, then maybe you can turn to other elements of your business.
More advice: www.swcomms.co.uk/plainenglishcloud