Some people are worried about storing valuable data anywhere they can’t see it. Yet the truth is that cloud computing is not some new and untested thing. Here are five common myths about the cloud, and how you can get it to work for your business.
Businesses have come a long way since the paper filing systems of previous centuries.
Who’d have guessed even thirty years ago -- when most organisations stored their big data on tape -- that today’s enterprises would share and store their valuable data in a digital space called the cloud?
Now cloud adoption is so widespread (and growing as more and more innovative cloud vendors enter the market) it’s also gaining more detractors.
In fact, the practice of setting up ‘cloud servers’ – establishing a network of remote data servers all connected to each other online – is almost as old as the internet itself. Some of the first cloud concepts were introduced by tech giants such as IBM as early as the 1960s.
The big upsides of the cloud are the ability to scale your data management and storage capabilities quickly and securely; and gaining fast access to smart software in the cloud to help you manage not only your data, but also your workforce, customer relationships and sales and marketing.
So why are some business owners still hesitant to adopt? Let’s explore the common myths:
1. Cloud is insecure
Getting straight to the elephant in the room: this idea that if you can’t see it and control it, you can’t trust it. This is perhaps the biggest misconception of cloud computing.
The issues with storing data on premises include failure of the hardware itself; risks of fire, lightning damage and theft; cost of building and maintaining the hardware and software yourself (or paying someone to visit your business to fix it) and lack of expertise in keeping everything running smoothly and securely.
While the cloud is not impermeable, it is no less secure than data held in a physical server. You typically only need one password or less to access a physical network – compared to secure cloud-based services which generally require at least two passwords, with most not allowing passwords that are considered weak.
On the other hand, data centres and cloud providers build their business reputations on how well they maintain their networked hardware and software to ensure it runs properly and has watertight security.
To date, there have been very few security breaches in the public cloud — most breaches continue to involve on-premises data centre environments.
2. Cloud is all or nothing
You don’t need to move every aspect of your business onto the cloud all at once to get the benefits. Cloud services are designed to offer improvement over data processes, but that does not mean they are the best fit for every process of every business.
Plenty of businesses adopt hybrid solutions. For example, managing workforce scheduling with Deputy, but running payroll in the office. Others make the transition more gradually, shifting to one system at a time depending on the business’s needs.
That being said, cloud vendors are working to make their management systems more integrated through APIs (application program interfaces) and partnerships, making a staggered cloud adoption seamless.
3. Cloud is just for large enterprises
Small businesses often see cloud as a big expense, especially if they are not dealing with big data every day. However, you shouldn’t wait until your business has grown big before you start using the cloud.
Cloud products are becoming more affordable for small businesses and can save a considerable amount of money in comparison to high performance computers.
Time is also invaluable to a business in its early growth stages – and getting your business admin (however small) handled by sophisticated online management systems frees up more time for you to develop your business in the areas you’re most skilled at.
Cloud systems are created for a broader audience than traditional or home grown IT solutions, and typically require a consumer product ease of use.
Solutions from the pre-cloud era are usually very specialised and require interpretation from financial analysts or data specialists, not particularly ideal for small business owners.
4. Cloud shouldn’t be used for critical business processes
With all the confusion surrounding cloud technology, it’s unsurprising that many business managers are reluctant to transfer their mission-critical systems to remote online servers.
However, the systems behind the concept have been tried and tested for critical workloads for many enterprises, both large and small.
5. Cloud is a passing trend
Business managers reluctant to make the switch to the cloud (particularly in slow-moving industries) will likely tout this as the main deterrent to cloud adoption, but this simply isn’t true.
For many of us, cloud is already a decade old concept. We’ve happily stored and shared personal data via popular social media channels.
We’ve readily accessed our financial services online to make transactions and handle our accounts.
While there are risks for any data stored by any means, the online security risks are as much to do with what you share publicly versus what you store more securely – and you always need strong access controls; you should never, ever use the same password across multiple services!
Technology can make you more competitive and more agile the more you find smart ways to use it. Whether you’re going all in online, or choosing a hybrid of off and online technologies, choose tools you can use efficiently and securely day-to-day. You might even make your work easier.
Kristin Harris is the general manager at Deputy.