Top five cloud computing tips for soloists
Cloud computing has been a buzz term for businesses for a little while now, but it appears that Australians SMEs just aren’t that keen on jumping on the bandwagon.
Recent research by software firm MYOB shows that four in five small businesses say they don’t use cloud technology, where key information is stored and accessed remotely via the web, rather than on hard drives, hard copy files and so on.
Interestingly, the research shows that sole traders were the most likely to leap into the cloud when compared to other business structures.
Although a mere 15% of soloists utilise the technology, this is more than the 11% take-up rate of medium-sized businesses.
The potential benefits of having flexible, portable data to hand are clear for the self-employed, who don’t have the luxury of support teams and office managers.
But many still aren’t buying into the cloud. Of those who have shunned the technology, the most common reasons for doing so are a lack of cloud knowledge, security concerns and overriding business priorities.
Whether these concerns will dissipate as the cloud sector matures in Australia remains to be seen.
Until then, here are five top cloud computing tips, provided by MYOB, for those looking to make the switch.
1. Research trustworthy cloud service providers
Important criteria when researching providers include credibility, technology expertise and reputation.
Look for information on the providers’ websites and via independent sources such as technology blogs, industry publications and research reports.
Consider seeking advice from IT consultants, financial advisors and other business owners.
Ask for client references and about e-learning, 24/7 support and other services offered. Going with an established, profitable, trusted provider is always a good idea.
2. Review benefits and considerations of different cloud models
You’ll discover cloud computing can take on many forms: some require you to learn new tools while others leverage your existing know-how.
Some only work when you’re connected to the internet, others also work in offline modes. Focus on the business benefits and then determine the technology required.
For example, if you’re interested in the ability to have online and offline access to your data anywhere, anytime, consider cloud-enabled software solutions that offer the best of both worlds: cloud, desktop, or both.
3. Prioritise security
The cloud involves accessing applications, information and data over the internet via a third-party provider.
Therefore, the providers’ security policies and procedures should be robust.
This includes physical security of the server facility with 24-hour a day, 365 days a year video surveillance and strict personnel access control, firewalls, anti-virus protection, spam filters, disaster recovery and independent auditing and testing.
4. Read the fine print
Check: are there hidden costs, add-ons or other features that will take up extra time and money to get everything running?
Or is it an all-in-one cloud solution? Also enquire about the providers’ service level agreements (SLAs), especially in the event of an unexpected or planned outage for maintenance reasons.
For example, if a half-day outage will be detrimental to your business, then discuss what measures are in place as well as any potential outcomes with the provider upfront.
5. Evaluate your own IT processes and systems
Each business is unique, with varying budgets and capacities. Evaluating your own IT processes and systems is essential before migrating to the cloud.
A good provider will help you budget and plan for now and into the future. It also helps to map out a transition plan to help make the move to your chosen cloud solution as seamless as possible so there is little to no disruption to your business.