What is the cloud?

There’s definitely a lot of buzz surrounding the word “Cloud” in the business context, but you may be hesitant to rely on the cloud when you don’t have a firm grasp of the concept. Now, before we get to what the cloud is, lets talk about what it is not. The cloud has got nothing to do with the stratosphere, or clouds in general, and before you even ask, but no the weather is not going to be an issue here. The reality is that the technology on which the cloud is built is a lot more down to earth than the name might suggest to some.

The first thing you need to understand is that “the cloud” is really just a general term used to refer to various networks of servers generally located offsite.  What this means for you is that rather than having all of your hardware and software sitting on your desk or in your server room, its provided as a service by an external company which gives you access over the internet.   Basically you’ll be paying someone to deal with your IT. You pay for only what you need and can expand or contract your service on the fly, with the added benefit of support, maintenance, and security.

When you take the time to think about it you probably encounter the cloud daily. One Drive and Dropbox, email providers like Hotmail, and even more common services like Facebook LinkedIn, and Twitter all store your information in the cloud. And as you may have noticed from using these web and cloud based services is that you don’t have to worry about updating your software, nor do you have to worry about what harmful elements might affect your data. The service provider, be it Google, Microsoft, or Facebook, do that for you. 

This is also true of ERP solutions hosted in the cloud.

ERP in the Cloud

It can be tough to move away from an ERP relationship, especially considering you’ve likely invested both your time and money into it. However, if you find yourself at the question “Should I break ties with my onsite ERP solution?” its important to have a good understanding of what it means to have your ERP solution in the cloud.

Your ERP is the basis for all of your business operations, and monitors the progress of your business drivers. Modern companies are driven to the cloud for a plethora of reasons, including its economies of scale enhanced research and development in security, efficiency, scalability, and perhaps more commonly, the lack of capital investments and the general savings.

So we know on premise ERP solutions consolidate all of your data and software into a central server network, but how does this differ from the cloud? Well it doesn’t differ all that much actually as cloud ERP solutions are built on the same foundation as tradition onsite solutions, with the key difference being that a cloud ERP solution resides in a secure offsite facility. 

Cloud based ERP benefits from the rich features of a strong ERP solution with the combined fiscal and technical benefits of cloud computing. Having your ERP in the cloud consolidates your business onto one united platform providing an increase in deployment speeds as well as gains in usability, reporting and analytics.

A Cloud ERP is offered as Software as a Service. Now you may find yourself asking, what do they mean by “Software as a Service” (SaaS)? With a SaaS solution you subscribe to the software application’s functionality, and the publisher of said software delivers the service to the user, while housing their data on cloud servers.

 A cloud ERP solution often has the added benefit of helping your company share information across departments. Using an essential to cloud shared database, employees from different departments can be confident that they all can access and rely on the same information, as all the essentials of running your business (accounting, ordering, inventory, HR, etc.) are integrated into one agile system. This cloud accessible central database is additionally the foundation for cloud ERP’s added accessibility and mobility as your departments are able to access all of their data in real time from most any device with an intent connection.

Common Questions about working in the cloud 

What are the cost savings in the cloud?When working in the cloud capital cost is lessened and operational costs, from IT support, to the electricity required to run your server are additionally reduced or eliminated. It additionally benefits from predictable costs, with no month spiking far higher than other due to need for additional IT support, or new equipment for maintaining an internal network.

Is Cloud good for small businesses or start-ups? A cloud based ERP solution should be the obvious choice for any small to midsized business, as well as the perfect fit for your dream start up. With a cloud solution your business has the flexibility it requires to adjust its server usage as the business evolves and grows. The added benefit of little to no capital investment and included IT support further cements it as the ideal route for start-ups.

Is the cloud scalable? Within cloud computing you are free to adjusts applications and users up and down to meet the ever changing needs of your business, with the added benefit of being able to trial an application without dropping massive capital upfront.

How do you update your cloud ERP: Perhaps one of the best parts of working in the cloud is that upgrades happen to your ERP service in the background and without your need for involvement, and in many cased without your notice. Your IT team can thus focus their talents towards other ventures that actually improve your business and revenue, rather than spending their time and your company’s money on upgrading, patching, or maintaining your software.

Is there security in the cloud? While many business owners may feel that their data is most secure in house under their watchful eye, what they often neglect is that cloud service providers have the knowhow and finances necessary to provide the most secure servers possible. It’s time to face the music, for many companies their server is located in little more than locked in a closet that has little in place to protect against robbery or natural disaster, whereas cloud providers like Microsoft are actively pouring resources into securing their environments in ways that the average client couldn’t hope to. 

Reputable cloud providers like Microsoft additionally clearly articulate specific operational and regulatory guidelines that they follow to assure the security of your data.

Bring your business to the 21st century by bringing it to the cloud