Cloud Technology is an indispensable tool for workgroups of all sizes. It’s an emerging technology hard to ignore. Here we highlight why it’s so important, especially for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMBs).
SMBs have limited resources and are always looking for value for money technologies to help them in business. Another limitation SMBs face is they do not want to lose focus from their main business, thus unlike a large enterprise which can setup their own IT team, servers and disaster recovery stations, they just want to invest all their resources on their core offering and nothing else.
The most elemental reason for going cloud is the superior backup facility that it provides. Traditionally, backup methods involve storing data on physical hard drives like CDs, DVDs or external hard disks. This method suffers from a number of inherent flaws. Cloud technology aims to solve a very large number of these problems. Here we discuss how cloud backup can help solve lot of issues faced during data backup by SMBs.
Benefits of Cloud Backup for SMBs
Easy disaster recovery – Data stored on external hard drives needs to be stored at some proper storage place. What will happen if this place was to catch fire? Or if it is struck by earthquake? All the precious data might be gone forever. Even if the situation is not so dramatic what if the server of external drive where data is stored crashes? With cloud backup technology, such issues never arise. The service provider ensures that the client’s data is stored on multiple offshore servers, so even if one of the servers turn down for any reason, the data always remain protected and also is quickly available.
To illustrate the above point consider a hypothetical situation. The office of a new start-up company catches fire such that all the office space and everything inside gets completely destroyed. Now, new office spaces and systems can be arranged in a matter of few days, but what about all the precious data which the company stored on hard disks and is now ashes. Will the company be able to run? However, had the organisation gone for cloud backup, all the data could have been easily retrieved into the new office and the work being easily carried on.
No need for maintenance and overhaul of IT infrastructure – Physical storage is not simply a onetime expenditure. It requires continuous maintenance. Also special facilities needs to be catered to these devices like air conditioning, continuous power supply, maintenance engineers and so on. All these causes unwanted stress on the expenditures. Big corporate can afford to have them, but not the SMBs. Not only maintenance, even replacement of hardware after some time is required as every hardware has a limited working life after which it becomes risky to depend upon them. In case of cloud, all these worries are left with the service providers who indeed expertise themselves in carrying out these tasks. In such systems, the client is only required to connect to internet and upload or download all the necessary data, no hassles involved.
Low capital expenditure – Cloud backups transforms capital expenditure to operational expenditure spread across a period of time. Thus, one does need to buy servers, drives etc. to secure data but instead use pay as you go cloud services for the same.
High Scalability and flexibility – Scalability refers to the flexibility in scaling size of the data. Under usual circumstances, data always tends to grow. Which means the organisation has to continuously strive to increasing its space by buying more hard drives, more spaces and more facilities required. This is usually undertaken by buying up lots of space all at a time and then filling them on. In this case, the first backdrop is the fact that a lot of initial investment is required. Also, a lot of money shall be wasted in the maintenance of servers which do not store any data presently but are kept for future uses.
The biggest problem with this method is that the process is not reversibly scalable. This means that, if in case, the organisation needs to dump off a large amount of data, its storage requirement decreases. Under these conditions, the excess storage space only becomes a liability and an unnecessary expenditure. This problem is not encountered in case of clouds. The client is never expected to buy up actual hard disks. It only needs to buy up subscriptions with the service providers. These subscriptions can be scaled both ways. Also, subscriptions can be very easily bought on a daily basis, meaning you never pay for space you don’t use in the time being.
Sharing and Portability – Data does not only needs to be stored, but also is required to be shared among a large number of people placed at different parts of the world. Suppose, a movie is being made with different shots/clips being taken at different parts of the world. Each clip is of hundreds of gigabytes. This data, does not only needs to be backed up, but also is required to be shared among a large group of people, like the producers, editors, publicists etc, all located at several different parts of the world. Under traditional system, with each shot, several backup DVDs will be formed, then maybe transferred to various locations and workgroup by couriers etc.
Cloud backup Technology provides a very easy and hassle free alternative. Here, the director simply needs to back up the clips on to a service provider. This will not only ensure a proper backup of all the data, but also, any number of authorised personnel can easily download them from anywhere in the world. There are a number of service providers who have taken the concept of online sharing to the next level such as, the director can limit rights of various users from see only to online editing. Such systems become very crucial for organisations especially start-ups, which might not have proper infrastructures. In such cases, members of the team can simultaneously upload documents and other files and edit it online, forming a virtual office.
Easy Updates and Changes – Data is rarely ever static in nature. They keep continuously changing. In physical storage, with every change, the disks needs to be retrieved back from the storage vaults and changed over. Not only that, same data needs to be amended in all the systems and devices using it. For instance, the record containing client information. If in case the client’s phone number changes. This change has to be amended in the primary data archive, then to all the employees dealing with that client. Each employee will then be required to update it in each every device of his, like phone, tablet, office computer, home computer and so on.
Cloud provides a highly simplified model for such situations. The custom software provided by the service provider installed in each of these devices amends the data automatically every time any change is made in the primary data. SO in this case, the changed phone number once updated in the primary source gets automatically updated across all the devices among all the users automatically.
High Data Security – Security of data is of the prime importance. Data stores simply on the hard drives are always prone to physical thefts. Many times, these hard drives have to be connected to the internet making it susceptible to malicious hackers and digital robbery. Security from these issues requires highly trained professionals. Hiring such skilled people might be completely out of reach of small companies. The cloud service provider takes care of all the security issues. It has the capability to hire the best talents to protect it from hackers. Also, they use high level encryption. The data is first encrypted on the client’s system and then routed to the servers, so in case if anyone is able to intercept it, ends with only unmeaning scrambled data. Many companies have now started giving the option to the client to generate their own encryption key so that even the service provider itself cannot access the data stored on its servers.
Summing it all up..
Thus cloud backup presents significant advantages over traditional backups for small and medium businesses. One can always start with a basic plan to store most sensitive and important data and then based on requirement keep changing it based on requirement.