Sometimes, it can feel like technology is advancing at breakneck speed. Every year it seems like we create a product or service that would have been science fiction a few decades ago. One of the most transformative changes, however, has been the widespread adoption of the cloud.
No longer are businesses and other entities tied to physical locations and connections. Now, everyone has wireless access to files, documents, and other media. All you need is an internet connection and a login.
Because the cloud is so powerful and convenient, it’s changing many of the ways that companies are operating. One such change has been the shift away from data centers to the cloud. In this article, we’ll discuss why many corporations are doing this, what the benefits are, and how it can evolve into the future.
The Rising Cost of Data Centers
First, let’s take a look at why businesses were searching for an alternative already. The simple fact is that running and maintaining a data center is cost-prohibitive for all but enterprise-level corporations. To operate a data center requires:
- Uninterruptible Power Sources (UPS)
- Backup Generators
- Cooling Systems
Each of these components required maintenance and upkeep, not to mention the power needed to keep them all running. An outage could be disastrous, which is why data centers need to be insulated from a variety of environmental problems. Cooling systems are needed to keep the machinery from overheating, backup generators will need to kick in if there was an outage, and ventilation is needed to ensure that the center itself stayed cool.
On top of all of the hardware costs, managing a data center also requires labor to handle everything. Businesses need a dedicated IT team to monitor the system and update it regularly. They also need maintenance workers checking the equipment to ensure that it doesn’t fail. Security guards are needed to watch for potential sabotage or thievery.
Another issue with a physical data center is that it has to be upgraded every few years as technology progresses, not to mention the wear and tear from machinery working around the clock. Companies could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make these changes, only to have to do it all again in a few years.
For some businesses, a secondary data center is also necessary to protect against data loss. If all of your sensitive information is stored only in one location, an outage could mean the end of your company. Backup centers ensure quick recovery and peace of mind.
As you can imagine, all of these maintenance issues and costs were a significant part of the need to find a better alternative. Enter the cloud.
The Benefits of Cloud Technology
We’ve looked at all of the disadvantages of running and maintaining a physical data center, so now, let’s see what businesses could get out of the cloud instead.
In the old days of the internet, everything had to be connected physically. Routers, modems, and phone lines (or fiber optic cables) were all necessary components of an integrated network. For companies to connect multiple offices and worksites, tons of infrastructure had to be built from scratch to manage such a feat.
Now, with the cloud, businesses can add or remove worksites almost instantly. All it requires to add an office to the network is an internet-connected device, and it’s ready to go. Each satellite just has to download cloud software and get login credentials for proprietary programs and systems. New users can be integrated in far less time.
As you can imagine, this level of scalability means that companies can expand into new cities and markets seamlessly. A startup could have offices in multiple countries before it even gets off the ground, which makes growth even more viable. With competition growing in every industry, the ability to adapt quickly can set a brand ahead.
It’s almost baffling to think about how hardware was updated in the old days. Each device had to be upgraded individually, which could require massive amounts of time, energy, and resources. IT teams had to install updates on each machine connected to the network. For enterprise-level companies, a rollout of an upgrade could take weeks or months to finish. Even worse, a new update would likely be ready shortly after that, and the whole process would start over again.
With the cloud, updates are installed once and spread across the network instantly. While users may experience some downtime (depending on when the updates occur), they don’t have to worry about installation or maintenance. As soon as users login again, the update is ready to go. This kind of technology is far more adaptable, and it can enhance productivity and security.
Enhanced security features are another benefit of utilizing the cloud. These days, hackers and malware can move lightning fast, so IT teams have to keep up. Rather than worrying about compromised machines, they can simply add a security patch to the existing program and be ready. Also, the cloud enables these teams to monitor the network (and devices on it) easier and more efficiently.
Human error is another critical part of the security equation, and the cloud can help combat that as well. Companies can customize digital workspaces according to an employee’s needs, ensuring that no one has access to information or protocols above his or her paygrade. Also, remote systems can be locked in case of a breach, such as a stolen device. While human error is still a prevalent problem, it can be managed more easily in the cloud.
Another way that security is better with cloud-based data centers is that the businesses managing the physical hardware have the tools and means to protect everything as securely as possible. Smaller companies couldn’t afford high-tech security solutions like RFID scanners or biometric controls, but cloud providers like Amazon or Microsoft can.
Fast Data Recovery
In the old days, backing up information was a time-consuming and laborious process. Even transferring files could be a pain. Either you had to save the data to a portable hard drive and then upload it to the new device, or you had to email it to yourself, which could be a security issue.
Now, companies no longer have to maintain banks of hard drives with backup data on them. Not only do these drives take up valuable space, but they have to be updated regularly with new information so that they are always current. There is no reason to keep backups if they are outdated or obsolete.
With the cloud, businesses don’t have to worry about outages or data loss. Information is easily accessible from any device anywhere in the world, which ensures that even if a single office goes down, the network doesn’t.
We outlined the financial setbacks that come with running an individual data center. Worst of all, as the business grows, these expenses will only get bigger and more draining on the bottom line.
Using the cloud, companies of all sizes can benefit. Best of all, each business only pays for what it uses, meaning that monthly expenses won’t go to waste. Need more data storage for the month? Add it to your plan. Need to cut back for a little while? Adjust your costs accordingly.
The Drawbacks of Cloud Adoption
While the benefits are undoubtedly good enough for most corporations to take notice, upgrading to the cloud is not free of setbacks. It’s crucial to understand the potential downsides of this migration, so let’s discuss some of the issues your business might face.
Everyone has experienced the problem of slow internet before. In some cases, you may lose the connection entirely. If that happens on an enterprise level, you’re kind of stuck. While the data itself may still be there, the link to it can be a weak point.
Not only that, but you need to make sure that your business-level internet provider is fast and reliable. Accessing files remotely is only convenient when you don’t have to worry about things like lag.
Fortunately, with the rise of 5G technology, this issue won’t be as prevalent in the future, but for now, it’s something to worry about.
For the most part, cloud providers are excellent about protecting information, particularly for large-scale clients. However, for smaller businesses that utilized shared storage, security can be an issue. The simple fact remains that a third party is managing your sensitive data. If they are compromised, so is that information.
Support and Control
Finally, one issue that can come from utilizing cloud technology is that you don’t have control over it. Businesses like Microsoft or Amazon do, which means that their policies affect how you can manage your data. If you don’t have a proprietary IT team, you can only access programs and software available from third parties. In some cases, these entities don’t provide the best customer support, nor are they obligated to adjust the system to meet your needs.
For some companies, this lack of control can be frustrating or disparaging. In these situations, it’s typically better to utilize a mix of cloud storage for backups and onsite storage and management for proprietary programs and systems.
Bottom Line: Corporations are Embracing the Future, You Should Too
If you haven’t moved to the cloud yet, now is the perfect time to see how it can enhance your operations. Contact us today to find out how we can help you transition to this incredible technology and how it can move your business forward.