NCET explores business and technology
By Ron Husey
By now, most people are familiar with “The Cloud”. You use Apps for your smartphone; send and receive email and text messages; and, download movies to your television. However, moving your business operations to a cloud-based environment is a bit more complex but it can also save you money and improve overall Information Technology (IT) performance.
Most businesses maintain one or more servers providing a centralized location to house their data and applications. In order to do this properly, servers require power, air conditioning, security, and people to maintain them. Server hardware and software will need to be upgraded or replaced every few years. Air Conditioning requires regular maintenance. And, IT staff will often require training to keep up with technology. When combined, all of these factors can represent a huge investment and increases overhead.
Business owners often consider IT as a “necessary evil”. But, what would you do if your systems fail? How long could your business survive if your systems experienced a catastrophic meltdown? How much would it cost to recover? Studies show the answer is not very long and many businesses would never recover and be forced to close.
Using cloud-based services can provide answers for all of these situations. First, disaster recovery or simple off-site backups are available from cloud providers and will allow your systems to be restored quickly in the event of failure or even to restore inadvertently deleted files.
Second, data centers provide security far above what most businesses can afford as well as abundant air conditioning and power. There is built-in redundancy including backup generators for power, multiple air conditioning systems, and backup internet connections – all typically standard features. And, there is redundancy for your servers as well. This means that if a server experiences a problem, it can automatically fail-over to another server nearly instantaneously so down-time can be avoided.
Finally, cloud providers can provide these services along with staff to maintain your servers for an affordable flat monthly fee. Some cloud providers can offer the expertise you need to solve a specific problem; managed services to pro-actively monitor your systems and keep your servers up-to-date; and, may even be able to provide application specific support for your accounting system, for example.
Not all cloud providers are created equal. But, the most critical factor is their Service Level Agreement (SLA) which describes their offerings, costs, and guarantees. The SLA will allow you to pay only for what you need and can be tailored to your specific requirements.
Ron Husey combines his 40 years of IT knowledge and business strategy experience to help small business owners take advantage of technology. His company, Xogenous (www.xogenous.net), is a full-service IT provider and is the only one in Northern Nevada to operate its own secure data center.
Learn more about moving your business securely to the cloud at NCET’s Tech Bite luncheon on March 23. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces networking events to help individuals and businesses explore and use technology. Register for the event and more info at www.NCET.org
This column originally appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal