By 2020, it’s estimated that 78% of small businesses will have adopted some form of cloud computing.

How about you?  Maybe your business is already enjoying the benefits of the cloud, or maybe you’re just not ready to get rid of those servers yet.  Either way, here are some things to think about to help you decide if cloud computing is right for your business.

Costs

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud services like Office 365, SalesForce, or QuickBooks are subscription-based, which saves you from paying a lump-sum licensing fee.  However, your costs may actually be greater over time with the subscription than in a one-time licensing purchase.  Make sure you know for sure before you make the switch.

Also, using cloud services may require more Internet bandwidth than you currently use, which means you’ll need an upgrade.  Include increased Internet fees in your planning budget.

Software Upgrades and Version Control

Cloud providers upgrade their software on their timetables, not yours.  The good news is that everyone in your office is using the same software version all the time.  However, when a software upgrade results in significant changes, it can be challenging if everyone is struggling to learn the changes at the same time.

Hardware Support and Maintenance

In our experience, most small businesses still need at least one on-premise server to handle network authentication, manage user rights, printing, and a local file share (Word, Excel, etc).

Personal preference also dictates what services remain on-premise.  For example, some companies are very comfortable putting their accounting in the cloud and others wouldn’t consider it.

So, even though you may be able to move a number of your software applications to the cloud, you may not be able or willing to move them all.  For example, you may have a customized order-entry system that isn’t available as a cloud service, or you may just choose to keep it in-house.

Even with cloud computing, you may still have a need for a server and other infrastructure inside your four walls.  Remember to include those support fees in your budget.

Accessibility

One of the biggest selling points of cloud computing is the ability of your entire staff to access all their documents from anywhere, on any device, as long as they have reliable Internet.  This is a main reason for the popularity of Office 365 email and other cloud email services.

Cloud-based file sync and share services also allow you to share, edit, and save documents securely.  This can be a great tool for those who work primarily outside the office.

It’s up to you if improved accessibility is a priority for your business.

Backup and Recovery

For data backup (and more importantly, data recovery), the most reliable and secure systems are off-premise.  Both routine data recovery and complete disaster recovery are faster and easier compared to on-premise tape or disk backup.

While security in the cloud is strong, be sure you know where your data is stored.  If you are in a business that requires your data to remain in the US, make certain your cloud provider uses US-based data centers.

Using cloud services can be cost-effective and boost productivity in your business.  Just make sure you understand the impacts that cloud computing will have before you make the move.

If your business needs help managing IT, contact CRU Solutions.