SharePoint is not new in the world of enterprise technology. However with SharePoint Online and Office 365 there is one additional element that is turning heads for businesses everywhere: the Cloud. Despite its increasing presence in the global workplace, many still have misconceptions about what "the Cloud" actually is, and how it can help businesses to become more productive. The hesitation against the Cloud usually presents itself in three areas: security, costs and user control. Let's dive in and bust the myths surrounding these three areas.
Security of Data in the Cloud
One common myth about the Cloud is that it is not secure, and that data kept within the Cloud can be easily compromised by external sources. This is an understandable concern as many organizations, private and public alike, have highly sensitive and confidential data around products, financials and customers or clients.
With this in mind, cloud providers have been holding nothing back at providing top-notch security for its users. Cloud providers, particularly Microsoft, have many tools to ensure that customer data is accessed only by the right people, including firewalls, surveillance systems and role-based access controls (RBAC). They also implement measures to protect against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, commonly seen in the form of targeted mass emails, which can cripple organizations that do not have the appropriate infrastructure to defend against them.
As an example, the healthcare industry in the United States is required by law to keep private the Protected Health Information (PHI) of patients, including any medications they might take and conditions they have. In the United States, the importance of keeping PHI secure in this new technological environment is embodied in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). With the ever-changing requirements of the healthcare industry, Microsoft has developed Office 365 to be HIPAA-compliant for health organizations of all sizes, making a big step in ensuring security and integrity for health organizations’ data in the Cloud. Microsoft is the first major public Cloud provider to meet the requirements for the HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA), greatly enhancing their status as a HIPAA-compliant Cloud provider.
If you are interested in more details about Microsoft Office 365 Cloud security, you can read this whitepaper.
Costs of Cloud Computing
Some organizations also have misgivings about the cost of moving to the Cloud. However, Cloud computing is quickly becoming one of the cheapest forms of computing, with prices dropping rapidly due to the increased competition in the market. In a study, aptly named "Pricing the Cloud," researchers found that the cost of cloud computing services, including Windows Azure and Amazon EC2, are falling on average 10 percent per year.
Along with the sufficiently competitive marketplace of Cloud computing, the opportunity costs of the Cloud need to be established. When asking "What am I paying for?" clients and businesses alike often forget what they are not paying for. With the Cloud, server security is handled by the Cloud provider, greatly reducing the costs and inefficiencies of in-house security. Customers also need not worry about the physical security of the servers, as many cloud services already provide more-than-adequate structures to house server farms. Microsoft, for example, houses all of its server farms in seismically-braced racks and has automatic built-in fire prevention safeguards.
Similarly, with the move to Cloud computing, Cloud providers have been able to cut prices on other products that many businesses use. Just recently, Microsoft announced that Office for iPad will be free (previously the software cost $10 per download). While an Office 365 subscription is required to effectively use these apps, the move is targeted primarily at businesses (which already have these subscriptions), who can now make their processes more mobile by using the Cloud. Many Cloud providers also only charge on a per-hour or per-gigabyte basis, making the cost more responsive to actual usage. No longer does a potential customer need to worry about wasting money on unused data storage. Cloud computing is, therefore more cost efficient.
Control of Your Technology
The Cloud is thought to be an uncontrollable entity, with enterprise IT teams unable to keep a hold on the sites or data managed within. The fact is that with Cloud computing, businesses have an easier way to manage the scale of their IT deployments. Cloud providers understand that IT infrastructure is not "one size fits all," so there are often multiple options to give companies enough for their specific requirements without excess; this is invaluable for smaller businesses that are growing and need to accommodate for an increased demand in technology.
The Cloud also has room for customization depending on the user's needs and requirements. There are multiple delivery models for implementing Cloud based solutions, including software as a service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). With SaaS, for example, software would be specifically hosted on the Cloud while other elements of the company's IT structure would remain on-premises. BrightStarr's deployment planning service can help you make the right choices for your organization. With the ability to mix and match which elements are deployed through external vendors, Cloud solutions are customizable in ways that traditional technology models are limited, but they are not outside of your control.
The common misconceptions about Cloud computing for the enterprise are just misconceptions when you dig deeper, but any change on this scale is best done with the support of those who have done it many times before. BrightStarr have the expertise and experience across different types of Cloud implementations and applications. We have successfully completed many Office 365, Windows Azure and SharePoint Online projects for clients across the globe and you can benefit from this experience. For more in depth information download the whitepaper via the link below, or if you have a specific question or project why not contact us and one of our consultants will be happy to talk to you.