(And how you could remove your company’s file server)
Companies that provide cloud-based solutions have a tough sell to make. It’s difficult to persuade companies that they should give up their sturdy file server, humming quietly in its own room, between the kitchen and the ladies’.
Many smaller companies have invested a lot of their IT budgets in having a decent server in their building. It hosts their intranet and stores their important information, and it’s difficult to tell them that they should get rid of it all, and move their important stuff to an online folder “somewhere in the cloud”.
But they should – and there are a number of excellent reasons for doing so:
- It will save money – This is only a recent development, but cloud-based file systems are generally as useful as in-house solutions, and are much cheaper to run. If you have to call in an outsourced IT company every time your server starts doing something funny, you’re spending money you don’t need to.
- It reduces carbon emissions – Not only will it lower your power bill to not be running a server in your building, but your actual file system is stored on something that generates far lower emissions. You can use this to offset your carbon tax.
- It’s more reliable – You don’t have to pay a separate company for backups, and you don’t have to maintain a team of IS operators to look after it. Your files are accessible by any of your employees, from anywhere, and you don’t have to worry about it “going down” ever again.
What Should You Look For?
There are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing a provider, and these can make a big difference to whether or not your file system remains as useful once it’s cloud-based.
- Bandwidth (theirs and yours) – How much bandwidth are they giving you? How much do they even have? Is your office’s bandwidth good enough to give users the same speed of access to files that they did when your server was in the building? These are the most important considerations if you need the transition to be seamless.Most importantly, in what way is your bandwidth being shared with others? Make sure you get the difference between “unlimited” disk space and bandwidth, and absolute numbers of what you will practically be able to use daily.
- Security – Are the provider’s servers in a secure vault somewhere, or in the basement of a high street store? Do they employ 24 hour security guards? Is your data protected against physical and technology-based threats? Your own IS team should assess these risks.
- Reliability – Most cloud-hosting providers will promise a certain amount of up-time, though these numbers are often misleading. If they promise 99% uptime, but your file server goes down for a minute every three hours, you’re going to get very angry. Read reviews of hosting providers, and talk to other companies who have used such services in the past to get honest opinions of their service.