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Understanding the cloud

The “Cloud” has been with us for over a decade with Google and Amazon using the term to describe their systems as early as 2006. In the intervening years it has become an industry buzzword, but like many buzzwords it’s been hijacked and misinterpreted by players both inside and outside the industry to suit their needs. I’m not about to create my own definition to further confuse the market, instead here are a couple of the straighter forward definitions.

“Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user.” Wikipedia…

“Cloud computing is a method of providing a set of shared computing resources that includes applications, computing, storage, networking, development, and deployment platforms as well as business processes.” Cloud for Dummies

Cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer's hard drive.

The Cloud can provide massive opportunities for your business, it gives you access to the latest technologies that would simply be out of reach unless you had an enterprise datacentre. But the Cloud is not for everyone, or more importantly not for every service. Below are the common misconceptions we hear on a regular basis.

Once I move to the Cloud I can stop worrying about my data

Incorrect, the information you put in the Cloud is your property, you need to take care of it. Ensure you are putting that data with a trusted provider, do your research and understand the risks. Remember your data, and the private data of others you keep is your responsibility.

In the Cloud, backups are taken care of for me

Incorrect, some services will undertake regular backups, however the scope of these backups and your access to them may not be straightforward. Question what backups are undertaken by the provider and how you can recover from a disaster. Do not assume the provider is carrying this risk for you.

The Cloud is cheaper

Sometimes, the true cost of an on-premise IT system (Total Cost of Ownership) vs Cloud-based systems can be difficult to calculate. If you are looking to truly benefit from the Cloud, don’t simply look at the costs. Consider mobility, security, flexibility, scale, and resiliency. If your motivation costs only, then do your sums carefully.

The government requires my data to be hosted in NZ

Without knowing your own individual industry compliance requirements then this one is hard to answer. However, in general, the New Zealand government has authorised businesses to store data offshore. The Ministry of Health authorised the storage and processing of Health-related data offshore in 2017 and the IRD made changes way back in 2013.

The reality is that the Cloud is not an all or nothing solution. Many businesses are successfully embracing a hybrid approach, which means putting the services that make the most sense to you in the Cloud. Assess each system you run such as communications, backups and disaster recovery, accounting solutions, payroll etc, once you’ve determined the best system for each, can then properly leverage this innovative technology to its maximum value.