With information being at the forefront of all businesses and their decisions, companies are now seeking data storage and cloud management solutions at rapid rates. As a result, many companies across multiple sectors are considering cloud-based solutions and software as a service (SaaS) products to store their data and operate their businesses more efficiently.
What are Cloud/SaaS Solutions & Why Are They The Right Choice For You?
Cloud-based solutions are networks, applications and or services accessed via an internet connection through a service provider's shared cloud computing framework. Put more simply: cloud solutions are methods that companies or businesses can leverage to store and access data over a network other than their own.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is in and of itself a cloud computing software that is offered in the form of a service. In essence, it's a software distribution framework in which the service provider hosts applications or technologies for consumers to make them accessible to the consumer via the internet. Practically speaking, SaaS allows users to simply access programming and software via the internet, freeing them from the complexities of hardware installation and management.
Cloud-based solutions and software-as-a-service programs are highly beneficial and an excellent choice for many businesses. Advantages include lower costs, greater data storage capabilities, reduced time to benefit, greater scalability, flexibility, efficiency, and the benefit of technological advancements.
Cloud-based solutions provide businesses with greater flexibility within their organization. Cloud solutions are scalable and on-demand, allowing organizations to adjust their needs based on fluctuating workloads. Flexibility is also offered in security as cloud solutions provide businesses with control options ranging from public to private to a hybrid model, allowing businesses to share and protect their data within the company. Cloud-based programs will also improve a company's efficiency immensely; all data in the cloud users have access from virtually any device; they do not risk data loss from hardware failure and can reach the market quicker by developing products in the cloud.
Software-as-a-service products combine the benefits of any cloud-based program with the practicality of integrating a company's software needs into their network. SaaS products can lower a business's expenses as the fees are commonly license fees instead of traditional purchase and install costs. Maintenance costs are also reduced as the program is shared among licensees. The price for maintenance is also built into usage fees by the network provider. SaaS products also improve a company's scalability and integration as they are within the network servers and compared with traditional models as users do not need to purchase new servers – only install new SaaS offerings.
In addition, SaaS products are an excellent choice for many businesses because it ensures they stay at the forefront of technological advances. Using a SaaS product, users reap the rewards of any updates without the added expense of purchasing the next-generation program/application/system.
7 Things to Consider When Choosing a New Cloud Solution for Your Business
The following seven factors should be considered by any business when implementing a new cloud solution or SaaS product within their business model. Considering these factors will ensure that the correct system is chosen for a business's unique needs.
With any good business decision – the bottom-line expense must be considered. Pricing should not be the only factor considered, as often, with lower cost comes reduced service and feature offerings.
Businesses should also ensure that their cloud solution pricing is flexible enough to meet their needs. For example, a fixed rate may be most appealing to larger companies, but usage-based pricing may be most favourable to smaller businesses with lower expected usage. When assessing the costs of a cloud solution, companies should be sure to compare the bottom dollar cost and the feature packages offered by each provider to find their best fit.
2. Performance & Resilience
The bottom line of any purchase for a business is that the product or solution needs to work. When deciding on a cloud solution, companies should assess the provider's performance considering annual uptime reports, support options, and ease of use.
Businesses should list their needs and ensure the performance of a cloud solution can meet these needs. Can your business afford minor downtime? Is assistance only required during working hours? If so, perhaps a solution that performs slightly worse than others may be acceptable for your task. On the other hand, if a company requires 24/7 access and service, a cloud product with a 99.99 percent uptime score may be necessary.
3. Data Storage
Data storage is another important consideration for several reasons. First and foremost, when choosing a cloud product, you want one that can store your data, ensure recovery of data in the event of systems disruption, and always allow you easy access to your information on the network.
Another critical factor is asking what happens to your data if you sever ties with that vendor. You may want to consider if the provider has features to assist in data transfer in the event of severance of relations. You may also wish to consider who owns the data. These are all questions to consider when pricing or shopping for a cloud solution for your business.
4. Service Offerings & Features
As with any new service or product, cloud products will leave you asking what you're genuinely spending your money on. When choosing a new cloud solution for your business, you should consider what features and services the provider offers.
This consideration will also play into your cost assessment. What are you getting for the money paid? Is the service on par with competitors for similar value? These are all questions you will want to ask yourself.
5. Security & Governance
With more emphasis than ever on the value of information, you may wish to consider the security features of a cloud product before implementing it. Perhaps you require a private server within the cloud program because you have confidential information or wish to monitor access to your data.
You should consider both internal and external security features. Internally some businesses may require multi-level security to provide varying levels of access to members of the organization. Externally, it would help if you were sure the cloud networks are secure from breach to prevent service interruptions or data loss.
Depending on your business's existing cloud usage, you may want to explore what integration options exist with the new cloud product being considered. Cloud integration entails bringing multiple cloud environments together to operate as one cohesive IT structure. Should your business already have a system in place, it must assess the integration features and capabilities of the new cloud solution being considered.
7. Ease of Implementation
A last important factor is that of ease of implementation. Whether you are looking to switch cloud product providers or move from desktop-based services, the assistance of your next provider is essential.
Without training or assistance in the migration of your data and implementation of the new cloud product, you will be forced to learn on the fly or hire/deploy your employees to learn the latest product, which will cost time, money and resources that could be better spent running your business.