You have a lot to keep track of in your business. Customer information, sales data, employee details, and more. Although there’s no longer a worry about someone breaking into and destroying the papers in your filing cabinet with all of your business intelligence, there are new concerns to consider. With the digital age, you must now be aware of how your business data is stored online and in the cloud.
What is the Cloud Anyway?
The cloud remains a bit of a confusing concept for many people. Yet most people with a smartphone or Internet connection access the cloud on a daily basis.
Simply put, the cloud is the way computing services are delivered over the Internet. For example, storing images, accessing data on servers, networking on social media, accessing software, and more all make up the type of services made possible by the cloud.
Facebook, LinkedIn, and Dropbox are just a handful of examples of cloud-based programs that are commonly used today.
What does this have to do with your small business? A lot.
To run your business in today’s world, you need to have a server to store your company’s information, access software, and more. This lets your employees access data from anywhere.
Where this server is located makes a big difference. With the cloud, your server equipment won’t be located on site but you still might need to own and manage the equipment depending on whether you choose a public cloud, private cloud, or a hybrid of the two. There are pros and cons to each, so let’s dig in.
A public cloud service means you’re sharing hardware with others. This hardware is owned by a third party provider, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or a local IT company.
The reason many small businesses choose to use a public cloud is because they don’t have to fork out a large upfront investment. You pay as you need to without having to be burdened by the costs of the hardware, upgrades, or maintenance. You can also scale up or down easily.
Because you’re using a third party’s server, you get IT resources quickly. The provider manages all of the backups and server monitoring so downtime is minimal (if there’s any at all) and you can be confident that you’ll always have access to the information you need.
There is a downside to sharing hardware. Specifically, it’s not as secure as if you owned your own server.
If you’re using a large third party provider such as AWS or Microsoft Azure (instead of a local IT company) you’ll also have more ‘cons’ associated with public cloud.
First off, these large companies aren’t usually as selective with who they’ll share your infrastructure with. Local IT companies generally use strict application processes with their public cloud offerings to ensure your data is secure. Also, if you’re working with a large provider, you’ll usually have a slower response time for any problems or issues that arise.
If your hardware and software is located off-site and is solely dedicated to your business, you have private cloud.
This is the most secure option because you aren’t sharing your hardware with other businesses. The hardware is dedicated to you and you can physically access it if need be. Your data is more secure because you can decide who will help you manage it. Typically, this is a local IT company or your internal IT department. You can actually have your local IT provider own and manage the hardware, but still provide you with a private cloud environment that is dedicated to you.
Any problems or issues that arise are quickly resolved because the company hosting your data is local.
By having your own dedicated server you can customize the computing, storage, and network components. This is ideal (and often times required) for high compliance industries, such as healthcare, insurance, and financial markets.
If you own the equipment (not always the case), you’re the one responsible for any issues, as well as management of the hardware. If you’re working with a local IT company, they will often provide maintenance in their offering including upgrades, software, security patches, 24/7 monitoring, and backups.
But, depending on who you work with and the plan you pay for, you may be responsible for all of the above if you are the owner of the hardware.
A Hybrid Solution
A hybrid solution is simply a blend of public and private cloud options. There are many iterations of what this looks like. For example, you can use the public cloud for non-sensitive business information, and store your more sensitive business data on a private cloud.
What’s Right for Your Small Business?
Ultimately, you have to decide what’s right for your business. If you’re in a high compliance industry, you might not have much choice. However, if you’re in a position to be a little more flexible with your business hardware, a hybrid solution might be your best option.
Not sure what’s right for your business? Let’s talk! We’re happy to discuss your options based on your company’s specific needs. Call us to learn more.