What exactly is “the cloud”? Do you really need it for your business? How do you choose a provider?
These are just a few of the questions we will answer in this comprehensive guide to cloud technology.
The “cloud” has become a ubiquitous term for modern businesses, but it can mean slightly different things to different people. And when it comes to your business, you need to know the ins and outs of the solutions available on the market in order to make the most informed decisions for your needs.
What Is The Cloud?
In the simplest terms, the cloud is a collective term for internet-based networks, storage, and access to solutions and services.
Instead of accessing software and services from programs installed to a single computer, users can access their mission-critical tools via the internet and remote services.
Cloud providers offer enhanced security and cutting-edge infrastructure for reduced, subscription-based fees. This allows businesses of every size to leverage the best computing technology for less money and effort since everything from maintenance to managing security is handled by the provider.
Some examples of cloud technology you may recognize are the Google Suite of tools (including Google Documents, Sheets, Forms, and others), chatbots like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, and a range of business applications such as Salesforce, Amazon Web Services, Slack, and Dropbox.
What all of these technologies have in common is that they operate via an internet connection to cloud-based servers managed by a provider.
Deployments & Types of Cloud Services
To fully understand how cloud services work, however, we need to review the different types and deployments. Here is a brief overview:
“As a Service” Types
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): cloud type where infrastructure such as storage, servers, and data centers, are offered and managed by the cloud provider.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): cloud type that offers a specialized software, middleware, and hardware components needed to create and manage users’ unique applications. Think Salesforce, Google App Engine, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): cloud type where the provider offers a specialized cloud suite for unique purposes such as marketing automation, customer relationship management, or content creation.
- Public cloud: cloud services accessible to the general public via the internet.
- Private cloud: private cloud servers owned by a private organization, not accessible to the general public.
- Hybrid cloud: also known as on-premises cloud, the hybrid cloud offers a combination of private and public cloud services. It leverages public cloud infrastructure with an added on-premises component allowing the business to securely manage their private data.
But Do I Really Need It?
You are the expert on your business and what it needs to thrive. To help you decide, here are the top benefits of cloud technology:
Cloud solutions are so popular due to the ability to access needed services and solutions from any internet-enabled device.
Whether your employees are working in the office, at home, or on the road, they can log in to a cloud platform to access critical documents, stay in touch with colleagues, and follow-up with customers.
Cloud solutions are also noteworthy for their ability to scale up or down as needed, with very little difficulty. Small to medium-sized businesses realize the most benefits from this as they grow.
Since cloud-based services are offered digitally, they can also be customized to suit the needs of each business.
Not all providers allow this, but the ones that do often provide custom development and integration services in-house for added convenience.
Since cloud servers are managed by the provider in a secure, off-site location from their users, they can more securely manage these assets to protect them from tampering and data breaches.
Cloud providers know that security is a number one concern for their customers, so it is in their best interests to invest in the best security solutions available, all at no added cost to the customer.
Built-in Business Continuity
Even with all the benefits of the cloud, many users still feel apprehensive about having their applications provided over the internet.
In cases of network downtime, natural disasters, or other complications, the best cloud solutions come prepared to get users back online as quickly as possible. Built-in business continuity features such as 24/7/365 network monitoring, automated alerts, and disaster recovery allow users to rest easy knowing they don’t have to fear downtime.
How To Choose A Provider
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we can get to the final phase of decision-making: how to choose your cloud provider.
As stated earlier, “the cloud” means different things to different people. The same could be said of your provider; not every provider offers the same caliber of services.
Choosing the right provider for you comes down to the type of cloud solution you need and the level of service you expect.
While there are many competing solutions for public, private, and hybrid clouds, there is one other cloud provider that we have not covered: The Full Spectrum Communications Solution provider.
This type of cloud provider offers end-to-end solutions for every business need. Full Spectrum Communications including pure to on-premises cloud deployments, which allows users to leverage a cloud-only delivery model or hybrid cloud solution.
Full Spectrum providers also offer everything from high-quality VoIP, video, mobile, chat, fax, texting, and presence management support to solutions for contact centers, virtual workspaces, and SD-WAN traffic routing.
This type of provider is built to be the last company you will ever need to purchase cloud services from. They specialize not only in the best-value solutions on the market, but also the best services model.
A true Full Spectrum provider will offer you free, seamless software updates to ensure your cloud solution is always up to date, 99.999% guaranteed uptime, professional installation and onboarding assistance, and 24/7/365 tech support plus ongoing maintenance.
Whatever provider you choose, keep in mind that the right cloud solution for you should fit your business and be able to grow and change with you. The ideal provider will be there to meet you!