While cloud computing can be an attractive option, you still need monitoring and management services to support your business.
If yours is like many small to midsize businesses (SMBs), cloud computing has become an integral part of your operations. According to Intuit, 37 percent of small businesses in the U.S. have adopted some form of cloud computing, and that number will more than double to 78 percent by 2020.
Most small business owners use cloud applications for financial management — 65 percent handle bookkeeping, generate invoices and/or accept payments via the cloud. In addition, 58 percent use the cloud to manage relationships with customers, and 48 percent to communicate with staff and business partners.
“We encourage our clients to use the cloud where it makes sense for their business,” said Krystal Triumph, IT and Telecom Specialist, Atlantic-IT.net. “For certain applications, it’s more cost-effective and flexible to use the cloud than to buy servers and software licenses and maintain them in-house. With the cloud, you pay for what you use and can ramp up quickly to meet spikes in activity.
“That said, not every application is suitable for the cloud, and the cloud does not eliminate the need for in-house IT infrastructure. You still need a network, desktops, mobile devices, security systems, backups and more.”
Managed services provide a concrete foundation for organizations that move some apps to the cloud. With managed services, organizations can outsource the management of all IT operations, including both on-premises infrastructure and cloud-based applications and services.
“Atlantic-IT.net provides a valuable management tier between your business and the cloud,” Triumph said. “The Atlantic-IT.net team can help determine what should be moved to the cloud, ensure the success of cloud deployments, and provide monitoring, maintenance and support of your technology that remains in-house.”
Platform for Success
Monitoring and managing a complex network is a responsibility that few SMBs can handle in-house. However, network management is even more important when relying upon the cloud to conduct business.
With traditional in-house IT, the focus is on the availability and performance of applications, servers and network devices. When the cloud is introduced, organizations also have to monitor the performance of their Internet service provider and cloud provider, and manage wired and wireless network traffic to ensure business goals are met.
“With the cloud, your Internet connection becomes your lifeline — if it goes down you cannot access your applications and data,” said Triumph. “Network capacity is another concern. If all of your users are accessing cloud applications at the same time, you’ll have performance issues if there’s not enough network bandwidth.”
Managed services relieve the burden of network monitoring and management from your staff and help optimize the entire environment, including the cloud. Atlantic-IT.net also offers a managed firewall service that can provide automatic failover to a secondary service provider if the customer’s primary ISP goes down.
Most importantly, Atlantic-IT.net provides prompt, professional support for any IT issues that arise. End-users can call qualified experts for help with desktop and mobile device issues, printer problems, remote access difficulties, and many other concerns.
“The Atlantic-IT.net Support Center serves as the single point of contact for questions and service requests, and can serve as a liaison with cloud service providers,” said Triumph.
“In addition, an Atlantic-IT.net consultant will meet with you periodically to discuss potential problem areas and ways to improve your IT environment. We can analyze any cloud services that you are using and ensure that they are meeting your business objectives.”
Although signing up for cloud services can be as simple as filling out a form and entering payment information, the transition to the cloud is much more complicated. The monthly, per-user fee for a cloud application might seem cost-effective, but it still adds up — particularly for businesses that are growing rapidly. From a technology perspective, organizations need to consider whether the cloud application can deliver the performance, availability and security they need.
“We’ve had customers wanting to move mission-critical applications to cloud services that simply weren’t adequate,” Triumph said. “We take pride in serving as a trusted advisor for our customers — one company they can go to for feedback and straight answers. Because we understand our customers’ IT environments and business needs, we can help them avoid the potential disadvantages of the cloud.”
Many SMBs view the cloud as the cure to all business technology ills. If they just move all of their applications and services to the cloud, costs will drop, time spent maintaining IT will drop, everyone will be able to do their jobs better, and all problems will go away.
Some parts of this scenario are realistic, but they’re far from guaranteed. If organizations don’t put enough thought into what they should move to the cloud and how those applications and services will be managed, they end up moving problems offsite, making them more difficult to correct.
“Remember, your cloud provider is only obligated to provide services that are spelled out in your service-level agreement. Your data and applications still must be properly managed, backed up, secured and available during a disaster,” Triumph said. “Atlantic-IT.net is your outsourced IT department — let us manage your IT infrastructure and operations so you can focus on running your business.”