Business Basics, Start Up / New to Business, Technology, Xero

Life in The Clouds

The past few years we’ve seen businesses embrace “The Cloud”.  The Cloud is what we call software and data that lives on the servers external to your computer.  These servers are generally in large dedicated warehouses around the world and you generally access the data by logging in over the internet.

Advantages

Reduced Costs

For businesses, the need to purchase and maintain costly servers has reduced, greatly reducing barriers of entry for many industries.  Instead, you can subscribe to providers of software that your business needs through Software as a Service (SaaS) providers, which further diminishes cost of purchasing software outright.  You can start with what you need now and easily add features or applications as your business grows.

Accessibility

The key to running all or some or your business in The Cloud is accessibility.  As long as you have a fast and reliable internet connection, you can access software and data from anywhere in the world, on any device.  This means that you can work during that layover in the airport.  Kids sick and need to stay home to look after them?  No worries, you can easily work from home.  Need to travel for work, that’s easy too!

File Sharing and Data Recovery

Another advantage is file sharing.  Ever needed to work on the same file as someone else in real time?  Many cloud applications offer this, enabling collaboration between people located anywhere.  Hence the rise of the mobile workforce.  In addition, storing documents in the Cloud means easier data recovery should disaster strike.

Considerations

ACCESS:

Generally, you need a reliable internet connection to work on the cloud.  If you operate in an area where there are often outages, then you should ensure any applications you use offer an ‘offline’ working option.

SECURITY:

Selecting cloud service providers that are renowned for their security measures is a must.  Companies must abide by rules that keep your data safe from hackers or security threats but things can sometimes go wrong.  A service provider that isn’t constantly updating security patches mightn’t be the best provider for you.  Location of servers can also be a factor to consider depending on the information you are storing, you need to ensure that you maintain privacy standards.

Similarly, you should also ensure that user permissions are set accordingly within your organisation.  These permissions are configured by you and set who can access what inside each application.

Finally, your organisation should also have some standards on password use to ensure login details are secure.  Making sure that computers are locked in an employee is away and not using the same password more than once are places to start.  We suggest you have an IT Security expert review what you currently have in place and provide some recommendations on other security measures that you can implement.

We love life in the cloud and considering that its becoming “normal” to work across devices (laptop, mobile, tablet) the cloud makes this so much easier.  Next week we explore how to build an Application Ecosystem and share some of our favourite apps.

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