What are the benefits of switching to the cloud?
Although some large businesses prefer to manage their own system infrastructures, there are significant operational benefits to making the switch at any level. For one thing, the need to focus more on core business priorities, and much less on IT issues, is not just highly desirable but increasingly important. Put simply, in these ever more competitive times, it’s a choice between having the responsibilities of running your own IT ‘generators’ or plugging into a secure, fully supported, ‘national grid’. Which, given that communications and network capabilities have become much faster and more reliable, strengthens the case for cloud computing.
Making the switch
No one would suggest replacing a perfectly good server and infrastructure that’s performing well—the business case would be hard to prove. But when an upgrade or system replacement is planned, perhaps with business development or capacity issues on the horizon, that’s probably the best time to review the use of the ‘cloud’. Evaluate what the business needs, understand the options and then be ready to make an informed decision.
Security is everything, always
First and foremost, it’s understandable that running a system through the cloud may give rise to concerns of unauthorized access to data. For Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS), safeguarding customers’ systems is the number one priority. A combination of advanced security controls, coupled with extensive knowledge and experience, ensure that the risks to data are minimal. Data protection may well be as good, if not considerably better than in a non-hosted environment, particularly in terms of recovery from a major outage or system failure—more about that later.
Evaluating the costs and pure financial benefits of a cloud solution versus an on-premise server is certainly not an ‘apples vs. apples’ exercise. Besides, it’s virtually impossible to put a price tag on some of the components—and that’s before factoring in short, medium and long-term considerations. For the basics, switching to a per-user/month cost base means there’s no server to buy, maintain and support, nor capacity/upgrade issues either as business needs evolve. Furthermore, the buying power of hosting centers provides them with economies of scale in hardware purchasing terms, which influences the cost base and contributes to competitive user pricing. There’s no slack tied up in case it’s required in the future, which may well be the case when investing in a new on-premise server. In short, with a hosted cloud solution you only pay for the resources you need, when you need them.
In many ways, it’s probably best to regard the move to the cloud as one that presents great opportunities and many hidden savings along the way. Just how big those savings are will often depend on how the business wants to manage its IT, now and into the future.
System performance may be a concern in switching to the cloud and certainly some parts of the UK yet to have access to reliable high-speed networks. Fortunately, the situation is constantly improving. With K8, the company’s flagship system, being designed specifically to operate over minimal bandwidth, users should not experience any performance reductions compared with an on-premise configuration.
Choosing a hosted cloud system means that a business gains the advantage of having a full-service solution: a far smoother and more streamlined IT experience. In simple terms, there’s less risk and less downtime. With the growth in extended opening hours and online trading, having 24/7 access to a team of multi-skilled and experienced IT professionals is more important than ever. Such facilities would be hard to match by all but the very largest in-house IT department. Given a choice, it’s likely that many IT managers would probably prefer to focus their time and energies on servicing strategic requirements.
Meeting business needs
In addition to providing substantial ‘peace of mind’ value, cloud systems are also immensely flexible. They can grow to suit changing business needs and can be rapidly deployed into new locations. Issues about server and network capacities along with the cost and inconvenience of hardware upgrades do not arise.
Considering the vital role now played by integrated business systems, safeguarding trading operations has become an imperative that cannot be sidelined. The impact of a system outage is felt immediately, and many processes simply stop with little or no fallback position. System failures or worse still, major disasters, are comparatively rare, but the risks of exposure should be reduced to as close to zero as possible.
In simple terms, running an on-premise server generally means dealing with a single point of failure. If a board or disk fails, it could easily take several days to recover the system and resume normal service. Older servers can easily have component supply issues, and other complications in a re-build are not uncommon. In the meantime, trading will have suffered; customers may have gone elsewhere, resulting in a considerable financial hit, even before re-keying transactions and other catch-up work is factored in.
When a cloud system is in a secure hosted environment, there are, in effect, no concerns at all by comparison, and every user can appreciate the reassurance that the system is being well looked after.
While some of the largest multi-site operations may continue to favor their own in-house configurations, a growing number of companies are opting for the cloud. SMEs in particular, who are looking to maximize their IT capabilities, have everything to gain by taking a closer look at the available cloud computing offerings. With reliable high-speed network and communications, along with comprehensive secure data center services, any concerns regarding moving to a fully managed service are fast dissipating. The benefits are certainly becoming more transparent and substantial.
In order to serve its customers and meet their wide-ranging business requirements, KCS continues to invest in providing a choice of robust, high-performance system platforms. Serving its customers, which range from a handful of users to several hundred or more, across several different industry sectors, the company recognizes that one-size-fits-all solutions are rarely successful. On-premise server, private cloud or secure browser access—KCS fervently believes that businesses must have the freedom to choose what best suits their needs.
Quite simply, KCS believes that helping its customers to make good technology decisions is a fundamental part of building successful, enduring partnerships. Although striving for product excellence and delivering first-class support services are uppermost customer-driven priorities, IT investment value is certainly influenced by choosing the most appropriate infrastructure platform. For many, that future will be in the cloud.