When it comes to understanding the cloud, people get confused easily, and rightly so. We already have 'the internet' and 'the web' why do we need something else too? Shouldn't companies have their own data on a server in their building?
The cloud is made up of millions of servers, housed in datacentres around the world!
For many years, companies have worked this way. Employees save all their work to a dusty old box in the corner and complain when it starts running slowly or the disk has problems and they can't retrieve a file.
"So, they speak to the IT company who installed the server a decade ago to try and get it fixed!"
The salesperson now says, "Oh, you don't want to keep any data on your own in-house server these days, it's not secure and you won't comply with GDPR!". So, already confused, they ask them about what they should do and the salesperson starts talking about the cloud.
In a nutshell, the cloud is made up of millions of servers, housed in datacentres around the world where you simply pay for the storage space, the computing power and the features you need, usually on a monthly basis!
The first question a business has about the cloud is usually to do with where the data is stored. If you don't specify, then it can be anywhere in the world, spread across multiple servers. And that's the point of the cloud ... it doesn't matter where your data is stored, it's just out there ... in the cloud.
But you can specify a legal jurisdiction for your data. Of course, now the United Kingdom has left the EU, we need our data stored on UK servers to comply with data protection laws. I know of one UK business owner that was using a UK hosting company only to find their servers were in Germany. As we were leaving the EU and she had confidential customer data contained within her systems, it needed to be moved back to the UK so she ended up changing her hosting company to ensure that happened.
And what about backups? Many customers who have servers in-house make a backup on a portable hard drive and take it home at night. The first question I have for them is, "how regularly do you backup?", quickly followed by, "are you sure you can restore that backup if you needed to?".
The reason we put servers in the cloud is that we can simply upgrade and downgrade the specification when we need to. Need more space? Click a, button and get more. Need a faster processor? Click a button ... you can have as much speed and storage as you're willing to pay for.
And if you want an hourly/daily/weekly backup, just flick the switch in your hosting control panel and you've got one. Many cloud hosts also offer version control, so if only one file is messed up you can get back a previous version that worked.
"Be careful as there are many differences between the cloud services on offer!"
It may seem that on the surface, Microsoft OneDrive and Microsoft SharePoint are the same, but one is a static storage space and the other is an active storage system with version control. Dropbox is another similar system that synchronises a folder on your PC with a cloud account for easy access.
But what about the security question? Well, every in-house server and every cloud-based server is vulnerable to cyber attack. The chances are, a datacentre would easily survive a denial of service attack, but would your in-house one?
The other thing I always recommend is a strong password. Anyone who uses Password123 needs to change it right now otherwise they are leaving themselves wide open to a data breach from hackers who could be anywhere in the world.
Can your business afford to be without access to its data? What if your building burnt down? What if thieves broke in and stole your server? What if there was a flood and all the electricity went out? How would you run your business then?
"What if there was a pandemic and everyone had to work from home for a year?"
Choosing the right hosting provider, in the right legal jurisdiction, offering the right services at the right price is a decision that needs making at the start of your cloud journey, and it's one I can certainly help you with.
Every business I've ever worked with has said that moving into the cloud was the right decision.
Until next time ...
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