‘The Cloud’ is nothing more than a way of connecting with something that isn’t in your premises, which probably once was. The two main examples of this is your IT and your Telecoms and these days they are both interconnected like never before.
Let’s deal with IT first. Before, if you were a small organisation (small is less than 500 people!), somewhere in your premises you would have had a server or multiple servers running software and applications that your staff connected to. In many instances this would be a Microsoft server and it would allow staff to access, save and archive files and documents. You might also have an email system, typically Microsoft Exchange, which is the ‘postman’ for your organisational email’s.
Other software may exist such as accounting software like Sage and a database or CRM software like Microsoft Access or Dynamics or Goldmine or Maximiser. There could be a lot of different servers running different software applications. Sometimes, in a larger office, there could be racks of servers and expensive equipment keeping it running (like air conditioning and power supplies).
In the ‘new world’ The Cloud can run all or most of these applications. For instance, Microsoft are pushing Office 365 which is their new(ish) desktop offering which allows users to work online or offline from any location with the full and most up-to-date Microsoft Office suite including Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Skype for Business – about 20 applications. As part of that you get Hosted Microsoft Exchange which removes the need for this to reside on a server in your premises. You simply pay a small monthly fee and you can install the applications onto 5 different devices per user.
Working from anywhere 24/7 365 makes staff more agile. You can forget annoying things like backing up email files and spam filtering as Microsoft have it all covered. Plus there is no need for remote workers having to access your network to get to data and users get huge amounts of storage included, which solves yet another problem.
Most other software vendors have done or are pushing web-based versions of their software meaning you access them in the cloud rather than by using your server. This often largely makes servers redundant, meaning lower IT and maintenance costs.
If we move onto telecoms, ISDN, which has been to GOTO voice connection for businesses since 1990, is being switched off in 2025 and you won’t be able to buy it new from 2020. The alternative is either to replace the ISDN with a Cloud-Based connection like a SIP trunk (a SIP trunk is basically the same, but much more feature rich service than ISDN, delivered on an internet connection) which connects to your premises-based phone system, or go the whole way and replace your whole phone system with a cloud-based system. The latter is a definite option for offices that have less than 50 people or do not want anything particularly unusual.
For those that still need a phone system (such as fragmented sites likes schools and factories, or someone that wants a specific feature that cannot be done well by a hosted system), then a SIP trunk is the option to go for.
How to Ensure Your Changeover is Successful
There are many benefits to moving to cloud-based technology including lower support costs, easier scalability, better features and resiliency and lower running costs (eg low or zero call charges from certain providers which can be a reason to upgrade all on its own. There are things to think about, like security which should improve if things are hosted by the vendors (like Microsoft) but can be an area of concern, for instance when using SIP – but nothing that cannot be dealt with by an experienced support partner.
However, we cannot talk about cloud without talking about the internet connections at the premises which suddenly become absolutely critical to everything (if there weren’t before!!). Even with the false hero that is fibre broadband, paying £40 per month for your internet connection is risky at best and in many cases no longer viable (I spend twice that on Sky TV at home which puts it in perspective nicely I think).
Fortunately, proper connections (often referred to as Leased lines which could include FTTC Ethernet, EFM and the ultimate direct fibre connection which is Fibre Ethernet) are now much more affordable and accessible than ever. The government are also subsidising the cost of installing direct fibre into premises to the tune of up to £ 2,800 meaning that up to 85% of orders can be fulfilled without customers paying anything for installation.
It is important to remember that a PC connecting to a server in your office will connect at speeds of up to 1000Mbps (Gb). A reasonable broadband will connect at 10Mbps (download) and 1Mbps upload with fibre broadband providing around 70Mbps down and 17Mbps up. So moving stuff off of a server and across a slow broadband is a massive issue. Plus, broadbands are shared with up to 20 other customers or even more if you are with BT who let their other customers use your router as one of their 5 Million Hotspots!
Broadbands are not that reliable being open to the elements and environmental issues – plus they run on a pair of wires which might have 100 joins in it and be 50 years old. There is no Service Level Agreement. Plus when Johnny comes home and fires up his live streaming on You Tube and his Sony Playstation (other consoles are available), everything slows down for everyone using broadband!
Leased lines have guaranteed SLA’s and speeds and you get all of the bandwidth just for you. They start at 10Mbps up and down and go up to 100Mbps typically or 1,000Mbps (Gb) if you want it.
Once you have a decent connection, you can run voice and data across it reliably meaning you can do more with less, ditch the ISDN and the phone system even.
IT and Telecoms costs reduce, but you pay more for internet – the overall costs should often go down, but the emphasis moves to the connectivity.n fact, in a surprisingly large amount of cases, businesses can make the shift on IT, Telecoms or both, have a load of new systems and be actually better off financially. Add to that the sometimes significant improvements in efficiencies, collaboration, communication and so on, it often becomes a WIN WIN no brainer.
If you think it’s time for your company to move to Cloud, then Nick’s company, tecwork can help. They will happily visit your premises and talk you through the Cloud changeover to ensure it is right for you. To organise your visit and learn more about tecwork’s services, check out their website now!