‘The Cloud’ has influenced a vast range of technologies related to our work and private lives. But what is it? How does it work? And what benefits can it bring to your business?
Since cloud computing rose to prominence, thousands of businesses have invested in cloud driven technology solutions as a means of managing day-to-day operations. Others, however, are yet to fully take the plunge, whether through technological scepticism or, perhaps more likely, broadband issues, security concerns or just an unwillingness to move on from the familiar.
If you and your business fall into the latter category, you may need some words of encouragement and guidance to get you thinking differently about the cloud. And that’s what this guide seeks to provide – a no-nonsense look at what the cloud is, does and offers from a business point of view.
- What is the Cloud and How Does It Work?
- From Hosting to SaaS: Key Cloud Terminology Explained
- What Are the Benefits of Cloud-Based ERP Software?
‘The Cloud’ refers to computing resources made available over the Internet, including the Software and Databases that run on those servers.
By using cloud computing, users and companies don’t have to manage physical servers themselves. The good news is that they can access the same data and applications from almost any device because the computing and storage take place in the cloud instead of locally on a physical server.
Adopting cloud computing means businesses can remove certain IT costs and overheads. We’ve found that it can be a great cost saving option for smaller businesses who don’t have the resources to invest in an on-premises server.
The cloud can also make it easier for companies to operate internationally or in a geographically distributed environment because all users can access the same data and applications from any location.
Right off the bat, it’s clear that Cloud computing can add great to businesses. With minimal maintenance costs and the ability to scale with ease, cloud-based technology represents the future of business management software.
For those new to cloud computing, the technology presents a steep learning curve. But by understanding the basics of how the cloud works (which the above section hopefully made clear), as well as its key terminology, you’ll be better placed to put it to work for your business.
It is essential to understand the differences between Hosting and SaaS. The two terms are often used interchangeably, so it’s no wonder people get confused and can’t tell them apart.
If you are considering an ERP or any software implementation, you need to understand the different type of deployment/infrastructure options available, and which one is right for you.
SaaS is a business model where a provider sells access to a platform as an ongoing subscription: this access includes the software licenses and the underlying infrastructure to run the software.
On the other hand, a hosted solution is a bunch of computing resources rented from a hosting company where you install the software. You have to pay for the hosting, and you have to pay for the software separately (whether you buy a full license or pay for a license on a subscription basis).
The biggest difference with SaaS applications is that they are usually multi-tenant. This means that one database shares multiple end-user customers, and they are partitioned from each other via a security model in the application, not via separate virtual servers.
Multi-tenancy is a core benefit of SaaS that allows lower costs through economies of scale:
- Scaling has far fewer infrastructure implications than with a single-tenancy-hosted solution.
- Not having to provision or manage any infrastructure enables businesses to focus on everyday tasks.
- Customers don’t need to pay costly maintenance fees to keep their software up to date. Vendors roll out new features and updates, and these are often included with a SaaS subscription.
In recent years, cloud-based SaaS has emerged as one of the most in-demand features our customers request from their ERP software. And, when you consider the advantages of such technology, it’s easy to see why.
Here, we take a closer look at the benefits that cloud-based ERP software can bring to your business, including:
- Lower Upfront Cost – with little to no requirements in terms of additional infrastructure, businesses can get started with SaaS ERP for a low upfront cost.
- Quick Setup and Deployment – the nature of cloud-enabled SaaS ERP means that the deployment architecture is set up and ready to go, so you can experience a near-immediate benefit.
- Improved Security – with on-site servers at risk from break-in or even natural disasters cloud providers pledge strict data security standards with regular back-ups taken and stored in alternate data-centre locations to ensure optimum disaster recovery protocols are adhered to
- Increased Flexibility– by using SaaS ERP software, businesses are free to add or remove users at will, while the centralised database and remote server makes for seamless access.
- Operation and Cost Efficiency – with low maintenance costs, pay for what you use pricing model, and powerful performance, cloud-based SaaS ERP can drive cost savings throughout your operation.
- Improved Issue Resolution – with virtual, on-demand support, you can get your questions answered without delay, meaning reduced downtime and enhanced performance.
- Improved Mobility – Access securely anytime, anywhere you have an internet connection
We hope this guide has helped you gain a better understanding of cloud computing, some of the related terminology and what it can do for your business. At Intact we appreciate that every business has different data, different hardware, and different needs. Our ICT team works with you to select the most appropriate deployment architecture for your business management software solution, whether that be on-prem, Intact Cloud or a hybrid solution. To learn more about cloud technology and the range of ICT solutions we provide, visit the homepage or get in touch with our expert advisers.