Cloud-based solutions are proving their worth. Companies can see quantifiable benefits like lowered operating costs, improved resource allocation, and increased agility. You may already have moved your phone system over to VoIP but innovations in technology permit businesses to move other commonly used technology to the cloud.
Benefits of Moving to the Cloud
Cloud computing allows you to use a grid of servers to support virtualized infrastructure, platforms, and applications. All of the chatter about cloud computing is for good reason. Using this platform makes it easier than ever to deploy new software and applications, fix bugs and release updates, and scales up quickly to meet growing demands. It also greatly reduces costs by consolidating hardware and cutting back on maintenance times. Cloud hosting has manifested in several forms including software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service model, and private cloud deployment. Software-as-a-service gives users the ability to connect to, and use, applications on the cloud like email and calendar. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provides virtualized computing over the internet, allowing companies to save money by not purchasing and operating all of their servers in-house. Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) gives users a complete development and deployment environment, allowing companies to buy resources as needed. IaaS improves efficiency and better uses hardware, while PaaS adds a level of software standardization.
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of using cloud computing is the increased flexibility such as the ability to scale up when more resources are used, or scaling down for less demand. It becomes easier and more secure to launch new applications and release updates. The applications will run in an environment separate from critical data storage. You can redeploy servers already in your data center or office to the new-shared model. Using the cloud allows companies to save time and money on maintenance and staffing. It also creates an environment where products and applications receive new updates and releases safely, leading to increased innovation and production.
Weigh the Options
Some efforts require pre-planning prior to migration to the cloud. For example, transitioning a critical application to the SaaS model could change how users interact with it, which may require some training. As with any major update to IT infrastructure, you must weigh your options carefully and understand how they will affect all areas of operations. Consider if it makes more sense for your organization to move only applications or software to the cloud, or the entire network infrastructure. Will a public cloud option work for your company or should you consider a private, community or hybrid model?
- The public cloud model stores your applications and data on third-party servers. This option offers cost savings and flexibility but means your IT staff does not directly control your data. You have to choose your cloud-hosting partner carefully to ensure security.
- The private cloud model is to your organization. It can reside on or off-site and your IT department or vendor is responsible for its management. Using this model may require your IT staff to have some knowledge about cloud services and the initial cost may be a little higher. Long-term savings will equal the same.
- The community cloud model is popular in healthcare settings. For example, a hospital complex or several medical offices in the same area share a dedicated cloud allowing them to exchange information within the group. This is a secure way to exchange data among several groups but is not right for every application.
- A hybrid cloud infrastructure combines two or more clouds. These clouds are self-contained; however, connect using standardized or proprietary technology that allows for data and application portability. An example of this would be cloud bursting for load balancing.
Application Questions to Ask Your IT Team
Some questions to open your discussion about what to do with specific applications:
- Will you move them to a private cloud?
- Can you use a middleware or database platform?
- Which applications can be consolidated using virtual machine technology?
- Can you outsource some applications to a public cloud?
- Should any stay on a dedicated, physical server?
You may not want to move applications that are undergoing major upgrades right away. Older applications that have very specific requirements may also pose a bit of a challenge. This should not deter you from moving mission critical apps to the cloud though, as those apps often benefit most from the flexibility and cost savings.
Video Surveillance as a Service or VSaaS refers to hosted cloud-based video surveillance. VSaaS services include video recording, video storage, remote viewing, and management alerts. Access to your video systems remains private and secured. The systems bring the best aspects of cloud computing to video surveillance including on demand service, broad network access, and resource pooling. With a cloud-based system, the cloud handles video processing and management. The system has an on site device to communicate with the cameras and the cloud to act as a communications conduit. This makes installation easy, you simply connect your cameras to the bridge device and auto-configure them. Initial cost and maintenance costs are greatly decreased compared to traditional systems. Adding more cameras takes much less time, and you can easily increase or decrease how much video is stored and for what length of time. You will also find that upgrading and integrating new options is easier. You can work with a third-party to support the VSaaS system or rely on your own IT staff.
Critical File Backup
Abuse or loss of critical data can cause financial disaster for a company. The damage to reputation can be just as harmful. Any IT department knows how important data security is, so it makes sense to question if cloud storage can support your high standards of security. The short answer is yes. If you set up a private, in-house cloud system then data security is entirely up to you. You can also choose to work with a third-party to manage and store your data offsite. A clear plan must include backups and recovery procedures. Knowing that your critical files are secure is of utmost importance and you can meet that while taking advantage of the benefits of cloud infrastructure like easy access, flexibility, and control.
Cloud managed music gives your business several advantages. Many studies prove music boosts employee’s concentration and satisfaction. It also helps develop a positive environment and set a welcoming tone for employees and customers. Managing that music on the cloud allows you to customize the music you play and control several locations from one centralized point of access.
Using cloud-based software to manage your digital signage has several advantages including:
- Ability to Scale: Monitor load and scale up bandwidth to meet demands. Cloud-based signage can support simple slide shows and high-resolution video with hundreds of screens.
- Ease of Use: Getting signage working is as simple as installing a screen that is pre-loaded with the required software, connecting to the Internet, creating content, and beginning streaming. The signage and content will then be remotely accessible to anyone assigned with security permissions.
- Cost Savings: Using a cloud-based system is less expensive initially and in the end. You do not have to invest in all the equipment to run or control the software.
VoIP Phone Systems
Transitioning your existing VoIP system to the cloud or installing your initial service for a cloud model will allow you to have lower costs and easier usability. You will only have to pay for what you need now, knowing that it is easy to scale, you just add more phones. The service is hosted offsite and you are not responsible for maintenance. Your IT staff will not have to focus on running a phone system. Cloud-managed VoIP systems have many advanced features including automated attendants, online management, access via smartphones and tablets, voicemail to email, find me capabilities, and more.
The first steps in moving your business technology to the cloud involve understanding the different cloud options available and determining which applications and systems are best suited for the move. Make sure that as you go forward you keep up your security standards and work with established partners. After making the decisions, the physical infrastructure and applications move to the cloud is relatively straightforward. Cloud architecture offers greater flexibility, lower infrastructure cost, and lower operations expenses. You will have control and transparency throughout the process. With private and hybrid options there are cloud architecture solutions for every organization. Tie National, LLC is here to help you choose the best equipment, services, and options for your needs. We provide flexible end-to-end IT consultation and solutions to businesses of all sizes. Please contact us today for more information on moving your business technology to the cloud.
Michael Durante spent his teenage years into his early 20s climbing the ladder in a branch of a successful banking firm, starting as a teller and ending as a Sr. Branch Manager within 6 years. In 2003, he left the banking world to join his father and create TIE National, a telecom company 60 years in the making. Together, they grew the company from a two-man operation solely working on telephones to a multi-million dollar international business with employees in over a dozen states, covering everything from phone systems to cloud products and computer systems. You can find Michael on LinkedIn.