Although cloud technology has been around for many years, the Coronavirus pandemic has shone a bright light on these platforms. Many thousands of organisations (and millions of employees) worldwide have been able to carry on their business/work largely thanks to cloud technologies. These systems effectively remove the need to be in a specific physical location in order to access applications/data/files.

This shift may simply be a temporary phenomenon due to the extraordinary circumstances – but could it actually be the right time for organisations to make more of a permanent, perhaps strategic, shift?

The major cloud technologies

The main cloud-based platforms currently used by businesses are Microsoft Office 365, G Suite, and Zoom. As well as these, many businesses are now opting for cloud-based telephony or VoIP systems and cloud-based storage solutions for their (increasing amounts) of data.

There are many advantages to moving to cloud-based systems. The main ones are:

Reduced ICT expenditure – cloud-based software solutions are usually offered on a per-user subscription basis. This reduces initial outlay (associated with buying traditional licenses) and means that the costs can be budgeted for as monthly. Cloud-based subscriptions also usually include updates and upgrades – thus reducing costs further. Additionally, you can save money on servers, hard drives, processors and other traditional hardware.

The fact that the environment is in the Cloud means that you can access your systems from anywhere with an internet connection and from multiple devices. This, in theory, can mean working remotely is a viable option for an entire workforce.

Reduced need for office space – if more of the workforce is able to work remotely/from home then there is less need for physical office space. Smaller office premises can also mean lower rent.

Traditionally, it has been expensive to add new employees because of the need for new devices, licenses etc. With a cloud-based system, new users can be added simply and relatively cheaply making scalability relatively effortless. Subscriptions can also be ended when employees leave meaning you only pay for what is being used.

One of the key benefits of cloud services is that they centralise your organisation’s data meaning you have better control over it. Information and data for all the various ongoing projects can be found in one location and can be accessed whenever needed and from any location. Data backups to the Cloud are carried out regularly and multiple copies are kept in different datacentres to protect against data loss and enable fast recovery if required.

All documents that are kept in the Cloud can be edited, shared, and commented on meaning enhanced collaboration. Many cloud-based platforms also have integrated messaging and/or video conferencing elements including the ability to share live documents and show others what is on your screen.

Cloud service providers use only the most secure datacentres and programs ensuring extra security. They have detailed processes and policies for handling client data and use encryption, passwords, and other tools to ensure your data and systems are protected.

The Cloud is the best place to store all your data/information and nearly all subscriptions will give users significant amounts of secure storage as part of the package, equalling free storage benefits.

Maintaining on-premise servers and programs requires skilled and knowledgeable staff. Cloud-based solutions remove this need meaning lower outgoings in terms of IT resourcing.

Disadvantages of cloud technologies

As with everything in life, there are a few downsides too. The main one is that because everything is based in the Cloud – you need a reliable internet connection to be able to access your files/systems. Other potential issues include a lack of tech support, lack of control, and potentially a lack of flexibility.

In summary, now could well be the perfect time to move your systems to the Cloud and realise the benefits and rewards this technology offers.