Written by Christoan Smit
29 May, 2019
First of all, money talks. Cloud services used to be much more expensive. Going back to the 80’s – Mainframe, the precursor to Cloud, was something only FTSE 500 companies could afford; now even the smallest of startups can arm themselves with the benefits of Cloud computing. This is largely due to economies of scale – when 1000 small companies join forces, they can afford the same, top-end systems as what a single company with 1000 employees can.
What makes Cloud so reliable? Firstly, a caveat: Not all Cloud providers were created equal. Check to make sure that your Cloud provider meets certain minimum standards such as ISO 27001, Tier 2 data centres and multiple data centres to provide failover in case one of them goes down. If all systems are good, then Cloud is an excellent way to ensure your business continuity.
Let’s say your office gets flooded: ‘Back in the day’ before Cloud, you wouldn’t be able to work, but now, thanks to Cloud, you could. If you had cloud-hosted desktops, like a Citrix desktop and VoIP phone from Venom IT, you could go home, to the local pub or anywhere else that has a fairly decent internet connection, and carry on working as normal.
There are two ways in which Cloud desktops could outperform physical desktops – running your apps and internet speed.
Here’s how it works: A Cloud desktop is made up from a combination of powerful servers which then pool their resources into one giant cluster. This cluster then provides the resources to host smaller computers such as servers and desktops.
Think of a cart being pulled by several horses – the more horses, the heavier the load they can pull, but the speed remains the same. Similarly, a cloud-hosted desktop relies not on one, but several physical machines to power it, whereas a physical desktop is, well, just one machine, and if anything goes wrong, that’s it.
The cloud desktop is what does all the calculations, processing and running of apps; your physical desktop that you use to connect to the Cloud, is really nothing more than just a screen for the cloud desktop.
Finally, the Internet speed at a high-end data centre could easily be fifty to a hundred times faster than the internet at your office. Your cloud desktop uses that super-fast internet connection to fetch data, and not the internet at your office. All the internet at your office really does is provide ‘screenshots’ from your cloud desktop to your physical desktop, which doesn’t require much bandwidth.
Some Cloud providers, such as Venom IT, offer free system upgrades and latest Windows versions along with the usual security patches and updates, all at no extra charge. This means, not only a saving in cost because you don’t need to buy new Windows licenses or physical machines, but also improved security and functionality.
With all your data on the Cloud, how secure is it? Again, this is where economies of scale really work in your favour. A data centre firewall is significantly more powerful than your average office firewall/router – a bit like the difference between a JCB and spade.
A high-end data centre firewall like the ones used by Venom IT will, for instance, open all incoming emails, check for weblinks, click the link, check the website it points to for malware, open any attachments, check those weblinks, and scan the attachment for viruses – all in under 300 milliseconds! The average office-grade firewall simply can’t do that.
Need to work away from the office? Then Cloud services give you a plenitude of choices to help you remain productive whilst on the move. A hosted desktop, for example, stores all your work on the cloud and gives you the flexibility of using pretty much any device – laptop, tab or even smartphone, to connect. Once connected, all your work is right there and the interface will always look the same – no matter whether you’re using Windows, Apple or Android.
Another sterling example of the mobility provided by Cloud is the VoIP phone system. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) means you can make free internal calls – even to branches that are geographically separate. You can also enable your mobile phone to act as though it were the phone on your desk at work simply by installing an app and connecting it to your VoIP system.
Scalability is a word you won’t find in the Oxford Dictionary from a decade ago. It emerged quite recently and simultaneously in various industries, with various meanings. From a Cloud perspective, scalability simply means you can easily add or remove services, apps, users and change admin rights, as the need arises.
Practically, what this means is you could have, let’s say, 40 users this month, 43 users next month, 41 the month thereafter… you get the idea. A small caveat is to check your contract. Venom IT offers a 30-day rolling contract, which means there is no penalty for making changes, but not all Cloud providers work this way – some might penalise you for making any changes, and/or try to lock you in with unreasonably long contracts, so do be careful when signing any Cloud services agreements. Also make sure that it’s stipulated in the contract that you retain ownership of your data – again, some Cloud providers sneak clauses into their contracts that effectively make them the new owners of your data.
Moving to the Cloud is probably the right choice for 99.9% of all businesses. If you have any doubts, or if you feel you first need some more info or assistance before taking the leap, or if you simply would like an independent review your current situation, Venom IT is there to lend a helping hand.