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What are the benefits and risks of cloud computing for a business?

How exactly can cloud services help your business, and are there any risks you should keep in mind?

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Many people nowadays tend to look back with nostalgia to the times when we used CDs, floppy disks, and thumb drives to store files, but those were actually some dark times for businesses. Processes were slow and ridden with human error, workers still relied on paperwork for most things, and everything took ten times longer than today.

Data could easily be lost, stolen, and corrupted, and many businesses failed because they couldn’t work their way out of the bureaucratic maze. Fortunately, times are different now, and businesses have faster, better, and more effective ways of dealing with data. The cloud has revolutionized the way processes are carried out, and 2020 in particular was eye-opening for companies, who realized that cloud services are the best way to move forward in the era of digital transformation.

Cloud services are no longer “the next big thing”. They’re already here, and they are becoming mainstream. According to Gartner research, the worldwide public end-user cloud spending will reach $304.9 billion, an 18.4% growth compared to $257.5 billion in 2020. What’s more, they estimate that cloud will account for 14.2% of worldwide enterprise IT spending in the following three years. The most lucrative sub-sectors are currently cloud business process services, cloud application infrastructure services, and cloud application services.

Last year posed new challenges for businesses, forcing them to seek solutions for remote working and collaboration, all while addressing reduced budgets and the increasing risk of cybercrime. Cloud solutions rose to the challenge, offering businesses a way to address all these concerns, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. According to recent data, 70% of companies that used cloud services in 2020 plan on increasing their spending this year, and up to 94% of workloads in 2021 will be processed by data centers.

But how exactly can cloud services help your business, and are there any risks you should keep in mind?

Cloud services reduce operational costs.

Many IT leaders have heard about the cloud and want to join the bandwagon but ultimately it comes down to one simple question: how much will it cost me? Especially last year, when budgets were reduced significantly, spending needs to be justified.

Fortunately, the cloud is a good investment and, in time, it reduces operational costs. Over 70% of CFOs said that cloud had a positive impact on the business, and that, by boosting business agility, it helped them achieve much more. Plus, cloud services are scalable. You only pay for what you use, and you can always scale your plan up or down, depending on your needs.

Your data is accessible from everywhere.

Budget is an important driving factor for cloud adoption but, for some, accessibility is even more important. In 2020, most businesses had to switch to the work from home model, but working outside the office has its challenges in terms of communication and collaboration.

Cloud based application development was one of the ways businesses could keep up, since it allowed workers to stay connected and productive while working from home. By switching to cloud-based apps, you no longer have to worry that employees have to be in the office to do their job. They can continue to do that safely, from home, as long as they have an Internet connection.

High performance

Cloud adoption goes hand in hand with business agility. Cloud-based apps can be used instantly after signup, so you don’t have to worry about long execution times. And, since they are based on cutting edge technology, you get consistent year-round performance.

On a similar note, cloud-based apps don’t suffer from downtime because if one server fails, your data is backed up instantly. This way, you have the peace of mind that you can easily recover your data should anything happen to it. This ensures business continuity and productivity.

Security against cyberthreats

Businesses are some of the favorite targets of hackers. And if you’re thinking something like “We’re just a small company, they won’t bother hacking us and they’ll go straight for the bigger fish,” you’re wrong. Contrary to common belief, hackers actually prefer small to medium-sized businesses because they don’t have the infrastructure to detect breaches in time and they’re much easier targets.

One single data breach can cost a small business more than $2.3 million/year, and 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyber-attack end up bankrupt within six months. Cloud solutions offer protection against hacking and data theft and use state-of-the-art firewall technologies to keep intruders at bay and protect sensitive business data. Don’t wait to become a victim.

Cloud adoption is at an all-time high and organizations are getting better at using cloud technologies. But are there any risks you should know about?

Although the technology in itself is beneficial, it can have some risks depending on how it is deployed and who you partner with. For example, cloud solutions are meant to boost security and ensure business continuity, but hackers are constantly finding new ways to work around firewalls. So, if you don’t invest in applications that are constantly updated, you might be affected. Once a business becomes a victim of a data breach, customers lose their trust in it and that trust is almost impossible to regain.

Also, you need to make sure that your cloud services provider complies with the legislation on data protection. The average company manages a whopping 162.9 terabytes of data, and some of this belongs to customers; so who exactly can access this data, and what do they do with it? Compliance violations can cost your business millions in fines, so don’t forget to go over this with your provider.

Last but not least, cloud adoption can be risky if the product you ordered doesn’t match your organization’s needs and requirements. Don’t start digital transformation just for the sake of change. Instead, have an open discussion with your cloud provider, give them a realistic budget and a list of your top requirements, and only then cloud services will work in your favor.

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