What Are Cloud Services and How Can They Help Your Business?

Cloud services provide an alternative means to managing your IT infrastructure in-house. They allow you to manage your data storage and archiving, web and email hosting, databases, software applications, document storage, email, training videos and much more online.

Traditionally all this information and activity was stored and managed on your server or hard drive and you needed to install software applications onto individual computers to allow you to access them. Cloud computing takes away the need to invest in more hardware as your business expands, employ the services of IT technicians or manually install and upgrade software on individual computers.

Put simply the ‘cloud’ relates to the internet. By investing in cloud services you pay for space in the cloud to manage your computer data. You, and your employees, can then access the cloud as you need to, only paying for the services you use, accessing applications as you need them, and increasing or scaling down your capacity as you need to. End-users no longer need to have the technical expertise to manage, monitor, maintain or support IT.

The advantages of cloud services are that you can access your data and software applications from any computer, laptop, smartphone or other device wherever you are in the world, as long as you have access to the internet. Because cloud services work by pooling computing resources, there are reduced costs and you are no longer limited to the expertise of your own IT department or hardware capacity.

Another important advantage is disaster recovery. By storing your data in a geographically remote environment you are reducing the risk of losing it should anything happen to your business premises or server.

However you need to read service level agreements very carefully to ensure you understand what services you are paying for. There may be hidden costs for example for data transfers, meta data functions or copying and deleting files. You must ensure your cloud services provider can guarantee the necessary levels of security, privacy and data compliance for your company. Once the agreement has been terminated, what happens to your files? Who is responsible for removing the data?

Cloud services are an increasingly attractive option for small to medium sized businesses as they allow them to invest in just the right level of services they need with flexibility for growth, however for larger businesses the long-term value of pay-as-you-go services needs to be balanced against investment in in-house services. cloud disaster recovery

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