Your IT Department

Cloud Solutions

Simplifying cloud computing systems
To meet the changing demands of the modern workplace, the people in your business should be able to securely access and collaborate on internal systems and files from anywhere. To achieve this, many businesses are adopting cloud solutions such as Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure. We’re on hand to help with advice, installations, cloud migration, support, cloud backup solutions and everything in between. We work with all sizes of organisations, from 10 to 100+ users. So if you are a business that needs help and advice on whether migrating to the cloud if the right solution for you, we can help.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is described as the process of using a network of remote servers, hosted via the internet, to store, manage and process data, rather than hosting it locally. Essentially, cloud computing is using someone else’s infrastructure and hardware, reducing the amount of capital investments your business needs to make.

We'll help you choose the best cloud infrastructure for you

Private Cloud

Sometimes called dedicated cloud, private cloud solutions provide your business with high performance, secure virtual resources that are not shared with anyone else. Dedicated computer resources means guaranteed availability as absolutely everything from the hardware to the network connection is dedicated to you. Private cloud solutions can be more expensive than public cloud but it eliminates any worries of competing for shared resources so can be the best solution if you need high availability.

Public Cloud

Sometimes called shared cloud, public cloud is a multi-tenant cloud computing deployment model, meaning CPU, RAM, storage and network hardware is shared between multiple tenants. Physical servers are segmented into multiple virtual servers, providing a reliable, high performance yet economical cloud solution. While underlying resources are shared, each virtual server is dedicated to an individual business, with no way to be accessed by other users.

Hybrid cloud

We often say that cloud isn’t one size fits all – and just as solutions will vary from business to business, there are also considerations to be made on a workload level. Some of your business applications may run efficiently and cost-effectively in the public cloud, whilst others may be better kept on-premises (such as complex legacy applications or those that process highly sensitive data). A hybrid cloud solution allows you to harness the benefits of a public cloud platform whilst also running some applications in a private cloud and/or on your on-premises infrastructure.

The Advantages of Cloud Solutions for SME's

1. Cloud computing cuts costs

For CEO’s with a fragile budget, switching to cloud computing is a no-brainer. You only pay for services you need and the low monthly fees cut down on hefty software and hardware costs so you save money. Not only that but with a third-party support team in place, you can afford to soften your wage bill.

Furthermore, there is no need for cumbersome servers to be installed in your offices. This not only saves on energy costs but creates more office space which you can use to expand other departments that increase the productivity and profitability of your company.

2. Reliability and availability

Cloud solutions give you unlimited data storage whilst freeing up space on your dedicated server. This will improve efficiency of your systems without overloading your servers and crashing. As a result, your staff will experience less downtime. Furthermore, automatic backup means you don’t lose any work.

Cloud computing service providers also take responsibility for monitoring, maintaining and upgrading system networks. Using advanced tools, system administrators can detect potential problems and rectify the issue before the network crashes.

3. Collaboration and convenience

To improve productivity, SME’s need to be flexible. Storing files in the cloud enables your staff to access files from anywhere on any device. This provides more convenience for employees on the road or that have chosen to work from home.

Sharing files is also much easier. Your staff can, therefore, collaborate on projects much more easily, even from remote locations. When files are stored online, project teams can work together and update documents in real-time.

4. Security

With cybercrime on the rise, there is intense public scrutiny on a company’s ability to protect their data. Cloud computing can help to provide a solution by adding an extra layer of enterprise-grade security to your defence systems.

Data that is stored in the cloud is encrypted to block hackers attempting to intercept files. Furthermore, advanced technology can identify corrupted files and incubate viruses to prevent them from spreading and putting your entire network at risk.

5. Scalability and flexibility

The digital arena is maturing quickly. As a result of new technologies and consumer behaviours, SME’s can struggle to keep up with the pace of the marketplace. No sooner have you installed a new program, and it needs updating with improved software or faster hardware.

Taking advantage of cloud computing services negates the need to constantly invest in a traditional IT infrastructure. Software is easily accessible and affordable, and pay-per-use models mean you are flexible enough to adapt to changing markets without burning your budget.

Microsoft Cloud

Transform your business with the Microsoft Cloud – simply the most trusted and comprehensive cloud platform available on the market, it offers all of Microsoft’s industry-leading products and solutions available from the Cloud.
Accelerate innovation from Microsoft’s Cloud services by uniting Microsoft Azure, its public cloud platform offering over 200 products and services accessible over the public internet. Integrate seamlessly with services such as Microsoft Power Platform, Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams and more.

Adopting Microsoft’s Cloud will ensure your organisation stays at the forefront of Microsoft’s technological advancements as well as provide your organisation with the flexibility to mobilise your workforce throughout the 21st century.

Microsoft 365

As a longstanding Microsoft Partner here at Your IT Department, we’re experts in Microsoft 365. From initial advice through to migrations and ongoing support, we’re here to help.

Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is Microsoft’s primary cloud platform for desktop applications. It improves collaboration and operational efficiencies whilst reducing costs. Features include:

  • Powerful, familiar desktop applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  • Microsoft Teams, the app that combines document storage with collaboration tools such as chat, web conferencing, team calendars and voice communications.
  • Cloud-based file storage in OneDrive for every user, with synchronised data held locally on PCs
  • The security management you’d expect from a company like Microsoft.
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Virtual Desktops

Virtual Desktops or Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is not an entirely new phenomenon, but it’s certainly experienced significant growth in the past few years, both in terms of technology and market share, and especially more recently due to the pandemic.
The reason for their take-up is that a virtual desktop is a secure and flexible means for businesses to support a remote work staff and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices. Of course, the pandemic and move to working from home has also accelerated take up of this technology.

What is a Virtual Desktop?

If you use a Windows computer or laptop in your work, you’re used to calling up the programs you want to use through the Windows desktop on your machine. All the resources it takes to do that, from the applications you run, to the Windows desktop you interact with, to the Windows operating system itself, are stored on your computer’s hard drive.

A Virtual Desktop moves all those resources off your hard drive and into the cloud. VD provides a virtualised environment in which your workers access their desktops and applications through a central cloud portal. With this approach, the programs you use don’t actually run on your local computers, but in the cloud.

This means that whether your business has one employee using Windows, or a hundred, all can continue to access the same Windows desktops, applications and data they have traditionally used, but without your business having to provide IT support for all those individual computers and the network that ties them together. In fact, your employees don’t have to use a Windows computer at all. With WVD they can run Windows and all their Windows-based applications from a Mac, a Linux computer, a tablet, or even their smartphones.

FAQ's

With private cloud, some or all of the underlying hardware is dedicated to a single tenant (as opposed to public cloud which is shared between several users). This is great for those who need extra assurance about performance, as dedicated CPU and RAM means the resource is guaranteed to be available during busy periods. Although a more expensive option, private cloud can be customised with options such as shared storage resources.

Virtual vs physical:

As cloud servers are virtualised, you don’t need to buy a physical dedicated server or rent space in a data centre. You can get started much faster as there is no physical server (which would need to be built or installed by a data centre engineer).

Upfront cost:

You only pay for the resources you use, so there’s less capital expenditure and less potential wastage.

Flexibility:

Cloud hosting provides excellent scalability and flexibility – as resources can be increased or decreased based on demand.

Continuity & Disaster Recovery:

When your infrastructure and data is on the cloud, you’re generally more resilient when it comes to things like hardware failure. Many cloud providers provide built-in redundancy for disaster recovery. If the hardware was to fail, then the platform would fail over to functioning hardware with minimal disruption.

Companies that choose to shift to the cloud do so for a number of reasons. The benefits of flexibility, scalability, cost savings, etc. are weighed against availability concerns. It is important to evaluate if cloud is right for you from a strategic and operational perspective. Does your demand for IT vary throughout the year? Are the costs of your IT impacting your ability to grow as a business? If so you may consider a cloud option that can be easily scaled.

You should also evaluate your current IT set-up to understand the benefits of moving to the cloud, especially in the following areas:

  • Service – how important are security, reliability and flexibility to your business? Is your current solution meeting your needs? Is there room for improvement?
  • Technology landscape – how many business users are there? What is the geographic distribution of your user base? Do your employees require remote access?
  • Cost – Are you satisfied with the costs of your on premises solution? Are the costs to scale up or upgrade services acceptable?
  • Ease of migration – when did you last invest in significant capital expenditure? Do you have any contractual and vendor commitments that constrain migration?
These are general rules and you should discuss your specific issues with a cloud specialist such as Your IT Department

Developing a cloud strategy begins with outlining your technical and business objectives. Understand what the drivers are for your company to shift to the cloud and what solutions these drivers require. Your cloud strategy may be to start small and gradually, or your business may be in a position to dive right in. Once you identify your needs, you can better understand if your cloud strategy should include public, private or hybrid cloud solutions. lay out a road-map and timeline to execute your shift to the cloud.

Many companies do not take the time to consider what they may need to put into place prior to shifting to the cloud. For the most part, preparing to shift to the cloud is simple and just requires you having a Cloud Provider handle your cloud journey. However, one of the biggest things to consider is your network bandwidth. With the strain put on local internet connections from cloud solutons, you may consider upgrading your bandwidth or investing in SD-WAN technology to increase connectivity. Also consider your computing resources.

With numerous high profile hacks of personal information in recent years cloud providers have worked to step up the security game for personal information. If a cloud provider has certifications in place for HIPAA, PCI-DSS and SOC, they have been evaluated by a third party and deemed qualified to handle personal/ private information. Nothing is 100% safe but the underlying infrastructure of a cloud hosting provider will be heavily protected and they will invest significantly more in security solutions than you could as a business.