But there are always questions and concerns about investigating new technologies and services. We’ve compiled a few of the most common concerns that small business owners raise with us.
#1 Do I have to upgrade all my equipment?
It depends, but generally no, you really don’t. Using cloud services is often a lot cheaper than buying servers and hardware, and ultimately, if you can get online, you can use the cloud.
There are a few minor caveats – if you’re looking at cloud telephony, you’ll need decent bandwidth to keep up. And if you’re running an outdated piece of software, for example you’re still on Office 2003, you may need to upgrade that before accessing new services (incidentally, if you are on 2003, now’s the perfect time to look at Office 365, a cloud-hosted version of the Microsoft Office suite).
#2 How secure is the cloud?
Cloud providers live and die by their security measures. Their entire business model is built around keeping data and services secure, and so they invest vast sums of money into maintaining and upgrading their security.
In fact, cloud is often more secure than on-premise solutions for small businesses. Think about it – how often do you upgrade your firewalls and other security measures? Does your server get new security updates regularly?
#3 Will I lose access to my data if I change my mind?
In a word, no. Your data is your data, no matter where you put it. If you decide to stop using cloud services, you can get all your data back onto your own servers before your contract expires. You may need help to do this – it can take time and effort, but it’s totally doable.
We’d be surprised if you wanted to, cloud hosting is simpler, cheaper, and more small-business friendly than on-premise solutions, but it’s always good to know you’re not shutting the door on any options before you make a change.
#4 Will I be locked into expensive contracts?
Again, the answer is no. Cloud services do have contracts, of course, but they’re designed to work in a way that’s best for you. You can usually choose whether or not to sign up for a year-long contract, or pay on a monthly rolling basis. The longer the time period you sign up for, the better the pricing, but the greater the flexibility. You just have to work out what you prefer and how you’d like to work.
Most services also have free trials, usually a couple of weeks or a month, so you can test out whether or not they’re the right fit for you and your business.
#5 What if my internet goes down? What if the cloud goes down?!
In answer to the first part, it depends a little on what you’re doing. If you’re using a service through a web browser, then you won’t be able to access it without internet. On the other hand, if your office internet does go down, you can just pick up your laptop and work somewhere else, because all your information is available no matter where you are.
Other services, such as Office 365, continue to work perfectly well without internet, they just won’t sync until your internet connection returns. You can even send emails, they’ll just wait in a queue in your outbox and not be delivered until you have a connection again.
The second question – what happens if the cloud goes down – is an incredibly unlikely scenario. Aside from the fact the cloud is made up of a lot of different solutions, services, and providers, and won’t go down in its entirety, the level of redundancy that is built in is huge.
If one server of a cloud provider breaks in some way, there will be another right there to carry on. And another. And possibly a hundred more. Cloud providers can’t afford downtime, they’ll lose customers, so in the incredibly unlikely event that everything goes down, they’ll have the best possible people getting it back up and running as fast as possible. Most providers offer uptime guarantees of 99%.
If you have concerns about using cloud services that we haven’t covered here, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and ask about them.