The cloud provides businesses with a simple, powerful, and cost-effective alternative to traditional in-house servers. It affords companies and stakeholders the opportunity to tap into substantial “big business” systems and services that are generally unattainable for small businesses due to the upfront and on-going capital cost. A reputable cloud service is designed for maximum uptime and security, available as and when you need it, and offers an attractive “pay for what you use” OpEx model.
To boost value, large providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) now offer powerful tools to help manage, interact with, and secure your data. One of the more popular perks is cloud Business Intelligence (BI) which has grown exponentially over the past two years, doubling since 2016, with the greatest level of adoption occurring within the financial services (62%), technology (54%), and educational (54%) sectors in 2018. We think all businesses should now be using the cloud in some fashion to leverage the tremendous opportunities to increase efficiency and leverage enterprise tools and reliability. Allow us to clarify.
1. Data Security
Cybersecurity is on everyone’s mind, and it should be, with an unprecedented rise in ransomware and other modern threats. Unfortunately, since enterprise level attacks tend to get all the press, some Canadian businesses don’t pay as much attention as they should. The reality is, Canada was rated the 3rd most exposed country to possible cyberattacks. Anything and anyone connected to the internet is at risk, and businesses need to pay more attention to security; the assumption it will not happen to you is dangerous.
The cloud can help. Major vendors like Microsoft are heavily focused on offering businesses a hardened platform on Canadian soil. The argument can be made that platforms like Office 365 and AWS offer better security and privacy than many small business networks or servers.
2. Disaster Recovery (DR)
Too many businesses assume basic backup services offer adequate protection. The reality is, don’t think about creating a proper DR plan until it’s too late. When you consider that a mere 35% of businesses state that they could remain profitable for more than three months if they lost access to their critical data, you can see a clear call to action.
Back in July, an Ontario municipality was paralyzed by a ransomware attack, which resulted in cybercriminals demanding approximately $144,000 CAD in bitcoin (easier to hide) to decrypt their systems (they ultimately spent approximately a quarter of a million dollars). Had the municipality designed and regularly tested a DR plan, which would have likely included a cloud backup solution, they wouldn’t have been in such a compromised position.
Make sure your DR plan is tested using an appropriate cloud backup service that isolates backup data away from infections or issues that take place on your primary servers. It should also allow you to convert your backup sets into live servers that can be used during a disaster.
If you choose to leverage cloud servers as your primary servers too, never assume your data is backed up. Confirm offsite services are included and copies of your information are sent to a secondary cloud.
Always build, test, and regularly retest your DR plan.
3. Data Privacy Compliance
Until recently, many countries had not implemented appropriate data protection “minimums” for businesses to follow. As the number and size of breaches increases, Governments are finally responding by implementing policy that defines requirements to protect 3rd party information.
With the EU’s recent adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act, businesses around the globe that store or interact with European information are now required to implementing better protection. Any business that hasn’t confirmed if they are impacted by GDPR needs to take a good hard look at their data. All that it takes is one EU based subscriber, customer, client, or content consumer, no matter the arm’s length, to force your hand to comply. Failure to do so can result in financial penalties that could place your business in ruin.
Then there is Canada’s own Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which has tightened further over recent years, and is expected to follow suit with GDPR, resulting in stiffer penalties for businesses with Canadian interests.
Given that the cloud is heavily influenced by cybersecurity and data protection law, by simply leveraging the right cloud partner, you inherit experienced security systems that may achieve full or partial compliance with very little effort.
4. Scalable Infrastructure
Your business collects and processes new information every day. If your business intends on growing (isn’t that indeed the intent?), the cloud is scalable.
Other perks include subscription-based payments and the ability to rapidly deploy infrastructure or services in minutes, as opposed to paying for expensive equipment upfront and waiting weeks for it to arrive and be setup.
5. Integration with Cloud-Based Business Platforms
There’s a good chance that like millions of other SMBs, you already use Office 365. As a Microsoft Certified Partner, we can tell you firsthand that integrations between Microsoft and 3rd platforms are growing everyday. Cloud vendors are aggressively bridging gaps between their platforms to offer application cohesiveness, giving businesses the ability to interact and manipulate data in revolutionary ways.
When data and services are hosted in the cloud, you allow staff and stakeholders the opportunity to reliably access them from anywhere in the world, at anytime, with updates and edits reflected in real-time. This creates an efficiency that is challenging or not always possible with traditional in-house servers.
Have you ever left your laptop behind with information necessary for a client presentation? No worries, because most cloud accessible information can be retrieved from a mobile device. The cloud permits you and your employees the opportunity to work from location-independent office environments.
7. Customer Relationship Management
The most important part of your business is client relationship management; it is essential to current revenue and potential opportunities.
The cloud’s accessibility and ability to integrate with other cloud-based business platforms makes it an invaluable instrument that helps better service the client. Cloud computing offers the processing power necessary to immediately organize and process information, your staff can tap into customer data to make more informed decisions and provide more relevant information. Furthermore, it allows your team the chance to document and share ever-changing customer needs in real-time. When it comes to customer relationship management, the possibilities of cloud-computing are endless.
Need help? Not sure where or how to get started? As one of Canada’s premier cloud hosting service providers, we can provide your business with a solution that is housed exclusively in Canada. We build cost-effective custom solutions that will protect your information, make your business run more efficiently, and help your business realize its full potential by leveraging cloud technology. Contact SIRKit today to learn more. We’re here to help.