I know from experience that many business owners have considered following a growing trend and outsourcing their IT operations to leverage the unprecedented power and flexibility of the cloud. I also know that many of them have reservations and fears that make it difficult for them to move from considering the change to making the change. The basis of their fears has a lot to do with the idea that they are losing control and there is no “IT guy” in the next office at whom to yell, “I NEED YOUR HELP NOW!” I often hear questions like:
- What happens if I have problem, like a machine crashing, and there’s no IT onsite to fix the problem immediately?
- What if I’ve outsourced my IT and I can’t get immediate help or help for hours, days or even weeks?
- How much money will my business and I lose from downtime?
These are reasonable and valid questions – but they are questions that would only be asked by someone who doesn’t understand or who hasn’t been taught the true value of leveraging the cloud in the right way.
First of all, having your servers and your entire IT staff in-house does not guarantee that all of your problems are solved immediately. In fact, one would argue it actually increases your liability since you are adding more people to the mix. And secondly, the very nature of the cloud and outsourcing to a centralized data center eliminates most of these problems and provides business continuity capabilities that most in-house operations just don’t have or simply cannot afford.
I’ve discussed the reasons why outsourcing IT to a central data center and using the cloud is such a versatile and flexible way to operate in past articles, but I think it’s important to reiterate here. Outsourcing IT and working on the cloud means that the network in your office is greatly simplified and much of the complicated infrastructure is no longer necessary. Everything your business needs, from hardware and software applications, to storage and processing power, is housed and managed at a central data center – which can have multi-layered back-up systems to ensure uninterrupted processing, access and work. There are rarely errors or problems at the data center – processing is near perfect. In fact, after outsourcing, most IT calls are no longer for problems or repairs but rather to add storage or adjust processing power.
With the cloud, employee desktops and laptops can simply become access points, or doorways, to the applications and programs they need. If an employee’s machine crashes, they can just move to a different machine, log in to the company’s system, and get back to work. It’s just like using the Internet – in fact, it is using the Internet – only it’s a highly-secured Internet portal linked to your business systems.
Let’s look at an example. If your personal computer crashed while you were on the Internet searching for some important information that you needed right away, would you wait until your machine was repaired to continue looking for the information, or would you just find a different computer, laptop or mobile device to continue your research?
That’s power of the cloud – every employee has access to everything needed to do business, at any time, from any place with an Internet connection. Whatever was on the employee’s machine before it crashed is accessible and exactly the same on the replacement machine because it’s not housed on the machine itself – it’s housed at the data center. Of course, you would still request that the machine be fixed, but with Cloud-based outsourcing and, more specifically, hosted desktops, there would be no work downtime while the repairs were being made.
Now, having touted the advantages of outsourcing, it’s important to remember that there are still some problems that can and do occur that are inherently outside a provider’s control. If a backhoe cuts your only Internet connection, there could be downtime. If the applications you’ve loaded at the data center to run your business have a glitch, problems may occur. Knowing there will likely be some problems, it’s also smart to realize that not all IT providers are the same.
The question is, will your provider say, “That’s not our fault and not our problem.” Or, will they say, “We’ve located the source of the problem and are working toward the solution”?
When choosing an IT provider for outsourcing, look for a company that will be more than a vendor. Look for a business partner who will work with you to understand your business and your goals. Look for a team player who proactively recommends ways to avoid problems and work as productively as possible. Understand that the provider that is managing your network is really managing your business plan and your ability to execute it. You must be able to trust your IT provider enough to give it total access to your network from front to back. Only with complete transparency will your provider be able to monitor your system, recommend improvements, and identify and repair problems.
A quality IT provider will do more than tell you that your data center is up – it will make sure that the various parts of your system are properly integrated and that the system as a whole is working with optimum efficiency to do what you need it to do.
If you’re still trying to decide if an IT outsourcing strategy is right for your business, contact us here at CloudWyze. We’d be happy to answer your questions and provide some free, expert advice.
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.