You have a lot to keep track of in your business. Customer information, sales data, employee details, and more. Although there’s no longer a worry about someone breaking into and destroying the papers in your filing cabinet with all of your business intelligence, there are new concerns to consider. With the digital age, you must now be aware of how your business data is stored online and in the cloud.
What is the Cloud Anyway?
The cloud remains a bit of a confusing concept for many people. Yet most people with a smartphone or Internet connection access the cloud on a daily basis.
Simply put, the cloud is the way computing services are delivered over the Internet. For example, storing images, accessing data on servers, networking on social media, accessing software, and more all make up the type of services made possible by the cloud.
Facebook, LinkedIn, and Dropbox are just a handful of examples of cloud-based programs that are commonly used today.
What does this have to do with your small business? A lot.
To run your business in today’s world, you need to have a server to store your company’s information, access software, and more. This lets your employees access data from anywhere.
Where this server is located makes a big difference. With the cloud, your server equipment won’t be located on site but you still might need to own and manage the equipment depending on whether you choose a public cloud, private cloud, or a hybrid of the two. There are pros and cons to each, so let’s dig in.
A public cloud service means you’re sharing hardware with others. This hardware is owned by a third party provider, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or a local IT company.
The reason many small businesses choose to use a public cloud is because they don’t have to fork out a large upfront investment. You pay as you need to without having to be burdened by the costs of the hardware, upgrades, or maintenance. You can also scale up or down easily.
Because you’re using a third party’s server, you get IT resources quickly. The provider manages all of the backups and server monitoring so downtime is minimal (if there’s any at all) and you can be confident that you’ll always have access to the information you need.
There is a downside to sharing hardware. Specifically, it’s not as secure as if you owned your own server.
If you’re using a large third party provider such as AWS or Microsoft Azure (instead of a local IT company) you’ll also have more ‘cons’ associated with public cloud.
First off, these large companies aren’t usually as selective with who they’ll share your infrastructure with. Local IT companies generally use strict application processes with their public cloud offerings to ensure your data is secure. Also, if you’re working with a large provider, you’ll usually have a slower response time for any problems or issues that arise.
If your hardware and software is located off-site and is solely dedicated to your business, you have private cloud. Private cloud delivers similar advantages to public cloud, but offer proprietary architecture and dedicated hosting behind a firewall, so it minimises the security concerns some organisations have around cloud.
This is the most secure option because you aren’t sharing your hardware with other businesses. The hardware is dedicated to you and you can physically access it if need be. Your data is more secure because you can decide who will help you manage it. Typically, this is a local IT company or your internal IT department. You can actually have your local IT provider own and manage the hardware, but still provide you with a private cloud environment that is dedicated to you.
Any problems or issues that arise are quickly resolved because the company hosting your data is local.
By having your own dedicated server you can customise the computing, storage, and network components. This is ideal (and often times required) for high compliance industries, such as healthcare, insurance, and financial markets.
A private cloud provider will generally use Tier 3/4 hardware (tier 1 is the low end) such as high end servers, high throughput switches, and enterprise class firewalls in a fully redundant configuration to provide the best performance possible and guarantee uptime for your business.
If you own the equipment (not always the case), you’re the one responsible for any issues, as well as management of the hardware. If you’re working with a local IT company, they will often provide maintenance in their offering including upgrades, software, security patches, 24/7 monitoring, and backups.
But, depending on who you work with and the plan you pay for, you may be responsible for all of the above if you are the owner of the hardware.
A Hybrid Solution
A hybrid solution is simply a blend of public and private cloud options. There are many iterations of what this looks like. For example, you can use the public cloud for non-sensitive business information, and store your more sensitive business data on a private cloud.
What’s Right for Your Small Business?
Ultimately, you have to decide what’s right for your business. If you’re in a high compliance industry, you might not have much choice. However, if you’re in a position to be a little more flexible with your business hardware, a hybrid solution might be your best option.
QCS Group Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
We generally recommend private cloud environments due to the growing number of cyber threats. Our private cloud service surpasses industries standards. QCS Group utilises all Tier 3-4 hardware, meaning all of our equipment exceeds industries standards. We use industry leading hardware and software to provide the best platform to our clients. Our networking backbone is fully-redundant using enterprise class switches that can handle high throughput allowing clients to truly feel low latency from start to finish.
Our cloud platform truly isolates each clients’ data by utilising secure end to end VPN connections along with unique VLANs and private IP spaces. QCS Group solely utilises the power of VMWare from front to back, providing endless scalability and performance to our clients. All of this is housed in a secure facility accessible only by our dedicated NOC team. No matter what your compliance needs are, chances are we have it covered. Our platform is more than just a service, it is an investment not only for us, but our clients as well.
Not sure what’s right for your business? Let’s talk! We’re happy to discuss your options based on your company’s specific needs. Call us to learn more.