Cloud for Small Business: Gain Hardware Independence

Small businesses tend to approach their business IT in terms of the tangibles.. the hardware and software they can see and touch.

The desktop PCs where the programs are installed, the server in the back room where the files are stored, and the backup that goes offsite (tapes? discs? usb drives?) is the stuff most small business owners think of when asked about the computing technology they use. This view isn’t very comprehensive when it comes to considering the costs of purchasing and maintaining IT in the business, yet it identifies a major problem with the typical small business IT approach.

The problem is the dependency on the hardware and the reliance of the small business on the operation of individual computers.

The solution to this reliance on on-premises hardware? The cloud.

The solution to the problem isn’t centered on using web-based applications. The real solution to this small business IT problem is cloud platform, like Microsoft Azure. When businesses deploy a private cloud server they get solution that allows them to run all their desktop and network applications and store their data on a virtual platform that isn’t tied to any particular piece of hardware in the office.

Microsoft Azure offers virtual computing resources, managed and secured on Microsoft’s hardware in Microsoft datacenters. Rather than purchasing and maintaining hardware on-premises, business can deploy virtual networks and servers on the Azure platform. This makes the systems far more versatile and resilient than would be affordable to do otherwise. Surprise server hardware failures become a thing of the past, and buying ahead for possible future needs is no longer required because the systems can be upgraded on demand.

Businesses still need desktops where users access their programs and data, but the “desktop” can be a cloud desktop rather than the local PC desktop.

Remote desktops on the cloud server keeps software licensing and business information securely stored on the cloud server rather than being resident on user computers where it is more easily compromised. Users may still browse the internet and do other things with the local PC desktop, but using the cloud desktop for business applications and data means that just about any PC could safely be used for work.

When applications and data are managed on-premises, it makes changing servers or workstations a big deal. 

Changing desktops or servers means that software must be uninstalled and reinstalled, data must be migrated and user profiles and permissions may need to be recreated. When the cloud server is where users get their desktops, computer workstations become interchangeable because nothing is really installed on them other than the connection to the cloud desktop. This is also why traveling laptops and home computers become more secure for business use, because the applications and data are really running on the cloud server and not on the local device.

The cloud platform provides what the business needs without the lock-in to on-premises hardware or SaaS/Web-based software.

Rebuilding servers due to hardware failures, upgrading systems to handle future growth or replacing aging hardware all contribute to the unpredictable cost of managing and maintaining on-premises computer systems. SaaS and web-based software solutions lock-in data and lock-out many future options, yet they don’t address user desktops and the rest of the applications and data the business needs.

Rather than risking outages and lost productivity, businesses are finding that running their systems on a managed cloud platform provides more stability and consistent performance for a reasonable and more predictable cost. Desktop and server software licensing is able to service multiple locations when installed on a cloud server, and workers at home can access the tools to be just as productive as they are in the office (maybe more).

Make Sense?

J