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We’ve all heard the term “cloud computing,” often mentioned in the same sentence as words like “affordable,” “scalable,” or “secure.” But even though the cloud has been making the headlines in the world of technology and business alike since it was introduced by Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2006, there’s still a lot of confusion as to what it actually means to be in the cloud. In fact, research from AVG Technologies revealed that one-in-three SMBs don’t understand cloud services at all. Why? Because providers have done a pretty lousy job when it comes to explaining the cloud in layman’s terms, producing countless confusing and sometimes even conflicting definitions full of technical jargon. But the good news is that the concept behind cloud computing is simple enough that you don’t need any special technical knowledge to understand it. And here we go.

Cloud Computing: The Latest Evolution in Computing

The good ol’ days

In the past, businesses had only one option to satisfy their computing needs: purchase and manage the necessary computing resources themselves (or with the help of a trusted IT provider). The typical small business had a couple of computers running essential business software, and sometimes also had an on-premises server with email, centralized file storage, and more. In other words, businesses were responsible both for the IT infrastructure and the software that users directly interacted with. When a computer stopped working, the files stored on it became inaccessible, and productivity immediately took a nosedive. Even when everything worked just fine, businesses had to constantly think about maintenance, security, and upgrades.

Then came cloud computing

This is a major evolution in computing that largely eliminates the burden of maintaining an IT infrastructure. In a cyber-environment, it provides anywhere/anytime access to the technology and tools that the company owns, like business applications, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence, and virtualized hardware.  There are no up-front capital costs for the technology, which is located in a secure data center and maintained by a cloud service provider. Setting up, let’s say, a document management and storage system in the cloud can be as simple as purchasing a subscription and creating user accounts for employees.

Since cloud resources are typically offered under a pay-as-you-go model, they are easy to scale up or down depending on the current needs of the business. This benefit of cloud computing is particularly advantageous for small and medium-sized businesses, which must always remain agile to compete with large enterprises with deep pockets, allowing them to easily equip themselves with the latest tools. And in fact, most SMBs have already adopted a cloud strategy.

When Should a Business Migrate to the Cloud?

So far, we’ve explained what it means to be in the cloud and why it’s a good idea for businesses of all sizes to let someone else take care of their IT needs for them, but we still need to answer the main question you probably want to ask right now: When should a business migrate to the cloud?

Unfortunately, there’s no cookie-cutter answer to this question because all businesses are different. That said, there are some signs that reliably indicate it might be the right time to embrace cloud computing.

You should probably consider a move if you

  • Your current IT infrastructure is no longer able to meet all your needs.
  • You want to ensure that your employees have the latest tools available.
  • You want to upgrade your existing software.
  • Your employees are working from various remote locations.
  • IT issues are preventing you from focusing on your business.
  • You want to streamline and cut costs around your backup and disaster recovery plan.
  • You have trouble budgeting your IT expenses.
  • You want to reduce your overhead expenses while making your operating expenses more predictable.

If any of these signs seem familiar to you, then we recommend you start thinking about a cloud migration strategy to prepare for an eventual move After all, preparation is the best defense against inflating costs. The purpose of a cloud migration strategy is to avoid the various common pitfalls of moving to the cloud. It makes sense that a company making the move would have no direct experience in doing so, and they are more likely to select the wrong approach, miss crucial design steps, and fail to address their unique security challenges.

We’ve helped a number of businesses successfully transition their systems to the cloud, and we’re migrating more every day. We can ensure that your cloud migration will be equally successful by guiding you through the entire process and suggesting the most cost-effective solutions based on your current needs and future plans. Get in touch and a quick chat with one of our cloud specialists can talk you through what it really means.