Like many modern technologies, cloud computing has advanced from the stuff of science fiction to reality. The ability to move entire computing systems from local hard drives to the Internet creates endless possibilities for collaboration and customer service. But it’s also possible to fly too close to the sun and have your data burned in the process.
How much of your data or applications are you comfortable moving to the cloud? Do the benefits outweigh the costs or risks? These are questions Manitoba businesses, like Winnipeg startup success SkipTheDishes, are asking themselves more frequently.
“We’re a tech company first, so even our own tools have been built with the cloud in mind,” says Kieran Moolchan, Linking & Content Manager at SkipTheDishes. “We can login from wherever we need to make sure restaurant partners and customers are getting a great experience.”
Cloud computing has been a buzzword in business for a number of years, and with recent news reports around data security it’s becoming increasingly more important to build a defined cloud strategy. Data centres, in particular, can take on a major role in providing security and safe storage for your company. IDC Canada has said, “The data centre is a vital utility in today’s digital economy which is being shaped by cloud computing, mobility, analytics and the Internet of Things. IDC expects continued growth and investments in the market for third-party data centre services.” MTS recently launched their new MTS Data Centres in Winnipeg to offer this expanded service to the market.
For SkipTheDishes, an online food delivery service across Western Canada, providing that great experience means balancing custom and prebuilt applications to find the perfect fit for its customers.
“We’re always trying to dial back how many external tools we use as we build more solutions that specifically cater to making sure food gets where it needs to be faster.”
Custom cloud solutions cost more, but as your business grows they may become necessary. Consider why you’re using the cloud. If it’s for internal use, or you’re a B2B company with a limited number of parties, cheaper consumer options will likely do. But if you’re trying to reach a growing number of customers, you may likely need to look at more targeted applications for your needs.
“In the beginning, we used some tools [for customer service calls] that didn’t scale well, like Skype,” says Moolchan. “Now we have a very robust call system, and it’s linked to Zendesk so that calls can become tickets that make an unbroken chain of helping customers. Awesome.”
“Regardless of how much money you’re spending or how many customers you’re serving, the key to success with cloud computing is keeping things simple,” Moolchan adds.
“The biggest question to ask is: Can a five-year-old learn how this works in five minutes? Simple-to-use tools that can automate tasks and have easy integrations with other cloud-based solutions are very helpful.”
Here are a few more things to keep in mind as you balance your life between local computing and the cloud.
Depending on the size of your data, cloud storage may not be feasible. For the time being, things like large video files are best managed locally.
The Internet, like any local storage option, is not perfect and can fail — and often when it’s needed the most. Is your business still prepared to carry on when this happens?
How comfortable are you with your data being housed on the Internet? It may often come down to paranoia over legitimate concern, but if your business deals with particularly sensitive data, it’s worth investigating a given application’s security. Has the supplier or app been compromised before? And what kind of access does the supplier have to your data?
Depending on the amount of data you’re using, you may be better off sticking with local storage. PCWorld has a great guide to sort you through this.