Throughout many of my past Insights articles, I’ve stressed the fact that every industry and every business has unique IT requirements, and that the power of the cloud is that it provides the flexibility, versatility and scalability to be easily adaptable to each situation.
Moving forward, I’m going to select one or two individual business verticals for each article and describe very specific ways that a cloud-based solution can be adapted to optimize the efficiency and productivity of typical business operations within that vertical. I’ll reiterate that even within a business vertical each business operates a bit differently, but because there are typically strong similarities in operational structure and core objectives, I think there will be enough overlap to be beneficial.
It’s also not unusual for IT managers working in one vertical to recognize ways that other verticals are using the cloud and realize that the same or similar uses could be adapted to benefit their businesses. For example, even if I’m highlighting the ways the insurance industry could leverage cloud services, someone in the medical field may think, “Hey, that’s a great way to improve communications efficiency – we should do that too!”
Now that you know what to expect in future articles, I’ve made this a transition article that briefly reviews what we’ve discovered so far about the advantages of cloud-based services. In our review we will cover the four key components of comprehensive cloud services:
Topic 1 – The Cloud
- The cloud – which in this case means transitioning traditional infrastructure to a central data center that is accessible from anywhere by way of the Internet
- The Internet – the quality of a cloud solution is directly related to the quality of your Internet. Good Data Center + Unreliable Internet = Bad Experience
- Hosted Phones – the same flexibility, scalability and dependability the cloud brings your IT operations is available for your phones
- Technology Management – creating the optimal solution for your needs is an art that requires expertise, experience and commitment
There’s a business trend (you might even say a paradigm shift) that is rapidly gaining momentum. Businesses are migrating from traditional IT systems that are capital intensive, generally inflexible, hard to scale, and difficult to manage, to cloud-based services that are incredibly flexible, easily scalable and offer a variety of additional business benefits. This trend is about removing the burden of hardware and servers from your office and building solutions housed and managed offsite in data centers to be someone else’s problem. It’s about reducing brick and mortar and mobilizing your staff to be nimble and efficient. It’s about empowering your employees to have everything they need to work anywhere and anytime through virtual desktops powered by virtual servers.
Whether your business has two employees or 500 employees, the limitless scalability of the cloud makes it feasible to design the perfect IT solution for your team. Accounting software, office applications, storage, communications, backup – whatever your business needs can be added or built in the central data center and accessed from anywhere. And if your computer crashes, just hop on a different machine or grab a laptop, log in to your virtual desktop, and keep on working. We’re talking about unprecedented business continuity.
Topic 2 – Hosted Phones
I really don’t need to say too much here because the principle of using the cloud for phone service is basically the same as using it for your computers. Hosted phones offer the same scalability, allowing you to adjust the number of phones and numbers as your business expands (or downsizes). Phone capabilities can be as sophisticated or as basic as you need and customized on a per-user basis. And if you thought voice over IP didn’t offer the same quality as traditional phone systems … think again. As long as the system is set up and managed correctly, hosted phones can provide enterprise level quality.
Topic 3 – Internet
The Internet is the foundation and ultimate connection point for cloud services. It is the vital link to the portal that provides access to every part of your business. The quality and capacity of your Internet must match your business requirements. If your business is mission critical (and it probably is), ask yourself if your Internet provider considers your business mission critical too (they probably don’t). Before choosing your Internet type and provider, educate yourself. Know the right questions to ask and understand what you’re buying. Your provider should be clear about what it is selling and what it can and can’t handle, but don’t expect them to willingly point out failures. You have to ask the right questions or engage a firm that knows the proper questions to ask.
Topic 4 – Tech Management
This one is important, but simple. From start-to-finish, end-to-end, your IT provider should take ownership of every aspect of your IT solution. They should not be making excuses about why things aren’t working the way you need them to and blaming some other vendor. They should intimately understand the entire solution and take responsibility for solving any problems. Ideally, they should also be monitoring your IT needs and proactively recommending ways to maintain optimum performance for your business operations. Not all companies are willing to take ownership because it is messy. Businesses operate differently and no two employees or owners are the same. Be willing to make this a priority in your business plan as well as in your budget. Technology management is crucial to the success of most businesses.
We’ve reviewed the four core components of a comprehensive IT solution and some of the advantages of each individually. Moving forward as we explore these services for individual business verticals, you’ll begin to see how these four components work together as an integrated system and literally transform and enhance the way businesses operate.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about the cloud and how it might benefit your business, give us a call.
Shaun Olsen is the CEO and President of CloudWyze. CloudWyze was created to help businesses focus and perform at their optimal level by crafting and executing custom technology plans for businesses of every type and size. To learn more about CloudWyze, visit www.cloudwyze.com. Shaun can be reached at [email protected] or 910-795-1000.