With the cloud becoming more common and the services becoming more widespread, its time we all looked at our businesses and ask ourselves,

What will the cloud do for me?

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What is it?

The Cloud. We have all heard about it, do we really know what it is and what it does? In basic terms, its extremely powerful hardware, located in multiple locations throughout the country or world that runs your software and services.
How Does it Work?
Just like traditional in-house hosting of your email and your data, it still resides on a server. The major difference is the ease of access for when your outside of your office. There is less of a need for having to “VPN” into work or come into the office to get the presentation you forgot to save to your USB stick yesterday.
The “Server” does have a physical location, primarily with whoever you choose as your provider. This is where the clever bit comes in, your provider wont have your data just on one location. It is duplicated in many location, sometimes in different countries, to ensure that the data is available at all times, even if one of the data centers where your server is stored has a failure. Not only do they have the redundancy they also take care of your backups.
Where is it?
The idea of The Cloud is, it is everywhere. If you have an internet Connection then you have The Cloud. The point is, you can go on any internet connected device in any location in the world and STILL be able to do all your work. Even out of this world if your an astronaut, as long as your preferred Space Agency has provided you with internet connectivity.
Why use it?
Our reasons for joining The Cloud revolution are different from company to company. Some do just their E-mails, for ease of use on the move or for saving on hardware and software costs with Hosted Exchange. Some move their entire companies data to The Cloud, even Sage Accounts have a cloud variety. Some use The Cloud as their off site backup of their companies data, so that in the event of a disaster, they can still access all of their data.

The costs involved with using the cloud are normally lower compared to the current in-house hosting most of us use. Depending on how many users we have or how much data we store, changes how much hardware and how powerful it needs to be. The more important our data becomes the more we have to backup and duplicate for redundancy reasons. Before long we realize we need two of everything just to keep us running! With the cloud, the redundancy comes as standard. Not only does redundancy come as standard, so does upgrades. Every 3-5 years we would normally think, “Hmm this is running slow, lets throw some cash at new servers”, the cost gets more and more each time. With The Cloud, the provider does the upgrades as they come out, we get the benefits for the same monthly cost.

Is it Green?

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Some companies prefer to look at the “Green” aspects of computers and servers, and examples of how Green it is are starting to emerge, for example, this exert from a BBC article;

“US cloud services provider Salesforce.com says that in 2012 its customers saved over 550,000 tonnes of Co2 emissions by using the cloud rather than on-site software. This is equivalent to removing 122,000 cars from the road, it suggest. “By moving to the cloud the carbon footprint reduction is about 95%,” Peter Coffee, the company’s vice-president of strategic research, told the BBC.”

What this is saying is that by using the clouds servers rather than their own, the carbon footprint and hardware costs are significantly lower than using in house hardware.

Admittedly, just one service moved to The Cloud, for example your emails, wont change make a huge difference to the worlds Co2 output, but if everyone moved just one service to the cloud, it will all add up. Before long all the penguins and polar bears wont have to worry as much about their homes disappearing into the oceans.

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All well and good, what about the cost!

Generally, services on “The Cloud” work on a month by month cost. E-Mails, normally work on a basis of per mailbox per month. Sage, works on per user per month. Even data storage companies work on the same principle. Some examples of major players using this method are Adobe. They recently stopped releasing their suite of software like Photoshop and all their associated software as DVD`s and downloads and changed it to a subscription basis. The major benefit of this is you use it for 6 months, find you don’t need it, cancel your subscription! Their entire software suite costs approximately £45-£50 per month including upgrades and new versions. Over a year that is a lot cheaper than the approximately £2000 for the entire suite, then you have to pay for upgrades as each one is released.

A rough example is mailboxes start at roughly 4.50 per month depending  on how many you wish to have, you can then add applications to it using suites such as Office 365 from Microsoft. We all know Microsoft applications are expensive, so Office 365 is a very good candidate for Cloud based services as it gives you the latest versions of the Office Suite on a subscription basis rather than paying huge sums every couple of years.

If you read this far, then your probably intrigued and interested in what The Cloud can do for you, drop us a line or an email and any questions you have we will be more than happy to discuss it with you.