Ready to Scale? 5 Advantages to Implementing Cloud Tech in Your Business Here's why utilizing cloud technologies frees up time and energy to focus on executing your business plan.
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As the founder of a startup, you've written the business plan and attracted your first customers, and now you're starting to gain market traction. Chances are that a significant portion of your sales will involve e-commerce. Doing business online requires a technology infrastructure that can execute transactions, capture and analyze customer data, and maintain data security. But what if, like many founders, you're not so tech-savvy and you have a small team?
Smart entrepreneurs build their businesses to scale. They anticipate growth before it happens. As a business grows, maintaining a technology infrastructure is complex and expensive. Mistakes not only can cause you to lose customers; they can also damage your reputation and credibility. In industries like finance or insurance, a security breach or server outage can literally bankrupt a company overnight. These challenges are why choosing a cloud service early can be so advantageous.
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Before delving into the basics to keep in mind when considering a cloud service, a little context might be helpful. Many people talk about cloud computing without realizing that the concept has been around for over half a century. A technologist named J.C.R. Licklider espoused his vision while working for the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) in 1969. He imagined grid computing that would allow everyone access to computing resources as a utility. Companies would pay for computing power. The reality of that vision has only recently been possible for the broader market as internet bandwidth has matured, and as technology providers have pivoted to offer myriad applications via the cloud.
In 2002, Amazon Web Services launched its initial service offerings. During this time Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, SAP, and others also began to offer "pay as you go" models. In 2017, Microsoft launched its cloud-based Office 365 offering. Today, a large percentage of companies are running their businesses in the cloud and related revenue is expected to exceed $250 billion globally in 2020. The SaaS business model, where applications are delivered, maintained, and secured via the cloud, has revolutionized how businesses implement and use application software. It's safe to say that cloud computing is no longer a niche business but rather the strategic direction for every global IT provider.
Irrespective of market growth or the momentum of cloud computing, there are five fundamental reasons to consider using the cloud for the majority of your IT needs:
Access unlimited computer power
Testing and development are critical components of your business model as your startup evolves and matures. With a hosted solution, your development team needn't worry about network switches, storage discs, servers, and so forth. It doesn't need to worry about running out of memory or having a workload "tip over." While a cloud solution needs to be properly configured to minimize costs, you can be confident that the cloud will support your company's transaction load — no matter how large it grows.
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This means your development team can spin up a cluster and run a test environment at any time. You can focus on the products and services you are building and delivering instead of worrying about whether your infrastructure can support those efforts.
Drive collaboration across your teams
With the cloud, collaboration, and teamwork across time zones and with remote workers this can become a reality. Documents can be created and edited in real-time, and version control is resolved (real-time updates of shared documents reside in the cloud). Recent shifts in workers' preferences to work remotely, along with the global pandemic, are further accelerating the push toward making collaboration real-time and seamless. Cloud computing is built for this type of paradigm shift.
Simplify organizational headaches
The time and effort required to recruit, train, motivate, and retain a competent IT team is significant and cannot be overstated. Choosing a hosted cloud solution means that many technical roles will be covered by your cloud provider. Engineers who are provisioning hardware resources, ensuring software updates, adding rackspace, and providing many other IT activities are no longer on your payroll. The majority of these responsibilities fall to the cloud provider, freeing you up to focus on growing your business and other priorities.
Secure your customer data
A hosted cloud solution will offer encryption that is native to the cloud. With most service level agreements, all data transactions and stored data are encrypted. This level of security offers credibility and assurance to your customers without requiring you to have an internal data security team.
Ensure business continuity
Even a startup needs to have a disaster recovery plan in place in the event of a hardware failure, natural catastrophe, or other unforeseen situation. That plan needs to ensure a way to recover data, move systems back online, and clearly communicate with customers who are affected. With a hosted cloud solution, the expectations for disaster mitigation are the responsibility of the cloud provider. The sophisticated cloud providers have detailed contingency plans to address these risks and ensure the continuity of your business.
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To recap, there are a variety of reasons businesses choose to move their IT environments to the cloud. But from a founder's perspective, choosing to put your workload in the cloud reduces internal complexity and frees up time and energy to focus on executing your business plan.