Move to the cloud or not? | That is the Question

Move to the cloud or not? | That is the Question

To start, Who what and where is the cloud.

Good question! A common perception of the term “cloud” could lead us to believe that your data is stored “somewhere” in the sky. The reality is that your data is really stored by companies who provide cloud storage on large computer systems, somewhere in a data centre. Depending on your choice of provider, that data centre could be anywhere in the world. Mostly for New Zealand the more reputable cloud providers are either based here or use very large facilities based in Melbourne or Sydney. For example, Xero (a commonly used accounting application) uses the AWS platform (Amazon Web Services). AWS have multiple data centers in Australia.

Data Centre warehouses are huge business. They have dedicated storage servers whose only task is to receive and send data all day long. These centres are extensive, some as large as 100,000 square metres, each with rows and rows of equipment racks populated by many servers in fully redundant arrays.

Below are the two main types of cloud-based services available:
Data centre hosted cloud: Typically these are used to run application servers specific to your business needs. Example: Large SQL databases and Line of business applications.
Cloud Apps: These are used typically for a providers own widely available apps that you pay a monthly subscription for. Examples: Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Xero, MYOB, Dropbox etc.

Reasons why you should consider moving to the cloud.

1) Storage Space:

After moving to the cloud, the need to store data locally is negated. You will still have access to your data, and the cloud provider likely has faster processing speed and storage capacity making the experience for your employees better.

2) Security:

Many perceive that data is more secure when stored on premise. These days that isn’t always the case. Data can be more secure in the cloud than on-site at your premises.
By migrating to the cloud, you will cut out many common cybersecurity risks. Laptops and memory keys often get stolen or lost and valuable company data is seriously at risk of being compromised as a result. These same devices are often used in unsafe environments and can expose your company to dangerous malware

Cloud advantages:

- The cloud stores your business data on an external secure server. When thieves steal your computers, or a Fire, Earthquake or Flood wrecks your on-site IT system, you can still access your data.
- Providers of cloud storage build in a high level of redundancy to ensure your data remains safe.
- Your data is encrypted during transit to ensure security and compliance.
- Migration to cloud services, reduces clutter at your workplace and releases office real estate for other uses in your business.
- Expert help for security and compliance is readily available
- You can reduce operational expenses for in house storage by offloading to the cloud.
- Generally, It is much harder for a cyber criminal to access your cloud data than it is to access your data on internal network devices. Similarly ransomware may find your workplace an easy target, whereas data stored in the cloud is much harder to corrupt.
- If a natural disaster debilitates a reputable cloud centre, then your data will be available from a replica site that the provider has in a different geo-location. Example Microsoft, Google and Amazon all have data centres around the globe. These data centres constantly replicate to each other to cope with the need to provide redundancy for natural disasters and events.

Sometimes the Cloud may not be the best option for your business:

Your internet connection: The cloud is reliant on connectivity between your business, its users and the data centre. If you experience frequent outages, slow speeds, etc then the cloud is not ideal. Make sure you get the internet sorted with your IT Alliance member first or talks to them about alternate solutions like a Network Storage device that has built in redundancy and backup features.

Large amounts of Data: Some businesses have a requirement for huge amounts of data transfer. Video editing for example. Although things have come a long way in the last few years, there remains situations where the cloud is not practical. Talk to your IT Alliance member about alternate solutions.

Local support: Many of the cloud providers are based overseas. Support can be limited with time-zone and language difficulties. Talk with your IT Alliance members as we know and partner with the better providers, also in most cases our It Alliance members will provide first line support to your business anyway.

Cloud Costs: These costs can easily work out more expensive sometimes especially if your business needs are quite complex. Cloud services, (just like your electricity bill) are generally based on a resource consumption basis. Talk with your IT Alliance member so you can work through what is best for your business.

“One of our IT Alliance members recently moved their client back from the cloud to an on-premise solution as the costs had rapidly escalated beyond control due to rapid business growth reasons. The $50k cost savings alone more than paid for a new server, the members installation services and ongoing support.”

How to ensure your data is more secure in the Cloud:

Data Encryption: Ensure your provider encrypts data in transit. This makes it inordinately harder for a hacker to access your data. Most reputable providers do this, check with your IT Alliance member first.
Multi-Factor authentication (MFA or 2FA): Most reputable providers have this facility to secure your data by adding another level of security. Ensure you turn it on. All the top providers insist on this anyway.
Regulations and Compliance: Dependent on your industry the may be specific standards for data storage. Encryption and MFA are common compliance expectations to most.
Team Training: The highest level of protection in any IT sense is the team’s level of cyber security training and the overall security culture in your business. This includes you and senior management.

Where to from here? Move to the cloud or not? | That is the Question

This topic is best discussed with your IT Alliance Member. We can help you find a business cloud solution that meets your organisation’s needs and assist you with the whole process and migration. Contact Ct Business Solutions here.

This article was kindly collaborated and written by several colleagues from the IT Alliance
IT Alliance Members:

CT Business Solutions | Hamilton | Morrinsville | Matamata-Piako | North Waikato
CT Business Solutions | Hamilton | Morrinsville | Matamata-Piako | North Waikato
Ultra IT | Northland | Kerikeri | Whangarei
IT Live | Auckland
Technology Partners | Tauranga
Vision Lab | Te Puke
AdvancedIT | Rotorua | South Waikato
BlackSANZ | New Plymouth | Taranaki
GTB | Wellington | Kapiti
Decision1 IT Solutions | Dunedin | Otago
IT Centre | Wanaka | South Otago
Voicecom | Invercargill | Southland

Related Services:
Managed Services
Cloud Computing Services

Don't just take our word for it | Here are some links to NZ Government related guides and information
CERT-NZ | How the Cloud works
Digital-Govt-NZ | Cloud Services
Business-Govt-NZ | Keep your data secure

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