Bringing ‘the cloud’ down to Earth for local businesses

A new trend for 2015 in IT
Bringing ‘the cloud’ down to Earth for local businesses

While it may have started as some buzzy tech term–like big data, disruption or the Internet of Things–“the cloud” is now a full-fledged, can’t-ignore, here-to-stay aspect of our lives.

As businesses strive to cut costs, innovate and remain relevant in ourincreasingly digital world, many are seeing adoption of the cloud–meaning software and services that run through the Internet instead of on your computer, such as Gmail, Salesforce or Dropbox–as inevitable. Up to ninety percent of businesses in this country are connected to the cloud in some way, whether it’s for simple email or calendar services or enterprise-level cloud computing.

The advantage of using cloud-based services is that they are available any time, from just about any Internet-connected device as long as you have the username and password. No download or installation required–a huge boon for companies with remote employees. Another benefit of the cloud is that it helps small and mid-sized businesses access resources that usually only large companies can afford.

Take building a website. With a slew of cloud-based services like WordPress, Squarespace and Weebly, to name just a few, creating and maintaining your own professional website is easy and affordable, and does not require an entire in-house IT team or giant servers. It’s one more way the democratization of the web is revolutionizing our business practices.

Keeping sensitive files safe

Security is, of course, a growing issue with the cloud. While the cloud’s on-demand access is convenient, it also makes it easier for your data and files to be intercepted. And with all the prominent security breaches and data hacks that made the headlines in the past year, including high-profile hits on Target and Sony Pictures, it’s smart to be wary of throwing sensitive files up onto the cloud.Bringing ‘the cloud’ down to Earth for local businesses

However, as cloud adoption becomes more widespread, security risks seem to be an inherent part of the package. Fewer people and companies are opting out of cloud-based software and services for security reasons and are instead beefing up data protection through methods like encryption and two-step verification.

And then there are those pesky passwords. As often as we hear it, we’re still not inclined to heed advice of creating different (and difficult-to-crack) login credentials for all of our key sites. However, using password manager software can make it much easier to create super-strength logins. Experts recommend 1Password, Dashlane and LastPass. Consider making one of these a New Year’s resolution you’ll actually keep.

SOUND OFF with Todd Streicher
president and CEO of cloud services company 5NINES

Why should businesses transition to cloud-based platforms?
The simple answer: So they don’t go out of business. If any business wants to compete in the new business world, they need to be focused on their core business and rely on dedicated experts in technology services to host their applications and manage their data. Businesses need to look at technology as enabling their business and increasing productivity–not as a cost center. It’s more efficient and economical for businesses to manage a business relationship with a technology service provider than hire technologists and manage them as employees.

How have all these high-profile data hacks and security breaches in the news affected you, if at all?
It has brought more business to us. Awareness of all the cyber security threats and concerns has only just begun. All the advances and benefits with cloud technologies are not without a cost. This stuff gets complicated. Now that everything is all connected and accessible from everywhere, it is really important that it gets set up and managed correctly. Again, businesses need to rely on experts in technology to make sure solutions are sound and secure, much like someone putting up a building should rely on an architect and builder to make sure it is sound and secure.

Are there any big cloud computing trends you are anticipating in 2015?
We are also doing a lot of work in developing hosting solutions for big data and business intelligence. We’ve got access to so much information with everything and everybody connected. The next step is to understand all the data we’ve got and start applying systems to leverage it. For the good, of course.