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When Amazon Web Services — one of the largest cloud providers in the market — went down in early 2017, it caused a huge outage for most of the East Coast. Numerous web services, platforms and sites were down for as long as AWS was out of commission. A similar thing happened with AT&T’s IP Flex service shortly thereafter.
These events highlight a worst case scenario for cloud service customers. When your provider’s service and support is not available, it’s likely that your platforms will suffer along with it. That prospect is not just concerning — it’s downright painful because even for a small business, just a few hours of downtime can be the difference between thousands or millions of dollars in profits and revenue.
It seems strange to start a positive-thinking look at cloud adoption with some incredibly negative facts, but there’s a reason for it. Most are cautious to adopt cloud support or cloud platforms because of events like those discussed. Then, there’s the matter of security, privacy and data integrity.
In reality, such detrimental scenarios are not the norm. Amazon Web Services, for instance, had a total downtime of 448 minutes back in March 2017. That’s impressive for such a large service covering so many different platforms, websites and organizations. Comparably, Microsoft’s cloud service had a total downtime of 1,652 minutes, and Google had 506. Downtimes, though a definite con, are not a common occurrence.
If you do the research when selecting a cloud provider, however, you will run into few, if any, problems. It’s always a good idea to use a cloud service provider checklist to vet a potential vendor. When you do find an appropriate vendor, the benefits you’ll incur are tremendous. Cloud computing is one of the most lucrative and beneficial strategies a modern organization could have. It can be used to improve your business and processes in many ways.
The Cloud Saves Time
Traditional software and local enterprise solutions are time-consuming. They must be deployed, updated and maintained across the company, which means you need an in-house team to do the work for every single computer or system in your organization. To make matters worse, updates and maintenance can keep personnel away from their stations for a time. If and when there’s a serious issue, it can put your entire team in jeopardy.
Cloud-based tools or SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications do away with each one of these problems. The tools are already installed, updated and maintained by a cloud provider. They also maintain and provide the necessary computing or processing hardware. They tend to have better security — more on that in a bit — and much better performance than an in-house solution.
They are also usually accessed through a web browser or client application, which presents little to no trouble or hurdles regarding training. If a worker or employee is familiar with the tool or software in question, that’s all they need to know to be productive. All the regular nuances of a local experience are gone, like startup or setup issues and more.
It Saves Money
On average, companies that deploy a cloud-based solution save about 21 percent annually and also spend 25 percent less on their personnel. A whopping 84 percent of CIOs have also revealed cloud-computing applications helped them cut costs, while half reduced IT expenditures by as much as 25 percent. Why? Because the solutions are maintained and stored off-site by a third party.
Off-site management eliminates the need for you to have such a large IT and security team in-house, and it also cuts down on the amount of hardware you and your personnel need. As long as they have access to a proper, client-capable system, they can do their work. Better yet, remote access means that work can be done from seemingly anywhere. It is now entirely possible to work from home, public locations or business trip sites. This access gives an extra edge to productivity and performance.
Energy Efficiency Is Better
Along with costs, energy consumption is lowered for several reasons. There’s the fact that employees and personnel can now work remotely from anywhere with less demanding hardware. You’re also no longer running an in-house data center or advanced IT network.
Recent studies have shown that if every American company suddenly switched to the cloud, computing energy footprints would drop by as much as 87 percent. The savings would equal 23 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.
Security, Performance, Maintenance and Support Are Better
The final nail in the coffin against enterprise solutions, so to speak, are the added benefits of improved security, performance, maintenance and even support. Swapping to the cloud takes the pressure of maintaining a secure and reliable system off your shoulders and puts it on the shoulders of your provider.
Security is still a major concern, don’t get us wrong, but the duty is not on you to provide the necessary tools, personnel and hardware. In fact, 85 percent of IT professionals claim they are entirely confident their cloud service provider can maintain and deliver a secure environment.
Furthermore, cloud-based software and tools tend to see better performance — provided there’s a reliable network connection between the client and provider — and maintenance because the systems are remotely handled.
Few cloud providers are known for bad support, too, which is crucial. When something goes wrong, you can get immediate and real-time communication channels open, and the work is handled by a much larger, more capable and specialized team.
Are There Any Cons?
Of course, not everything is perfect in the land of cloud computing and SaaS solutions. Outages do happen, which can cause downtime for you and your teams.
Cloud solutions are often shared, so a single client completely unrelated to you can cause service issues. If a legal problem arises, for instance, it’s entirely possible a cloud vendor will stop being operational for a time.
You must also maintain up-to-date payment solutions for your cloud vendor subscription. Should it lapse — even accidentally — service will be severed, which can cause performance and operational issues, as well.
The benefits are vast and far outweigh the option of deploying enterprise-level and local services. If you’re looking to improve your business and processes, it’s time to make the leap to the cloud.
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