1. What are the benefits, if any, of moving to the cloud?
Typically, customers turn to SADA Systems and the cloud to help them solve a specific business problem. This problem could involve infrastructure concerns, communication barriers, lack of cost-effective scalability, outdated or unreliable on-premise servers, insufficient disaster preparation, etc. What we have heard most often from these customers is that when they transition to the cloud, they often realize unexpected benefits above and beyond the root of their initial problem, and these benefits become key success factors to their practice.
The key recurring benefit that our customers are most pleased about is the ability to access information from anywhere, and on any device. For example: one of our clients, Alain Pinel Realtors, has recognized a powerful competitive advantage in the real estate industry by being the first to respond, engage and make an offer with the ability to access the necessary information and documents on the go, from wherever they are.
The unified environment provided by working from the cloud allows companies to be more mobile, flexible and collaborative. Moving to the cloud allows employees to communicate and work together with co-workers, partners, and customers in a whole new way — far more efficiently and reliably than in the past. Another one of of our customers, Hopkins School, underwent a massive 18-month project to optimize its re-accreditation process by providing teachers and staff with the ability to share, edit, and rewrite critical information collaboratively within a single document in the cloud.
Furthermore, organizations who have transitioned to the cloud have the capacity to leverage other cloud-based solutions and add-ons, opening up integration possibilities that strengthen overall business and provide a critical advantage over their competition.
2. Is it more cost-effective to move to the cloud or stay on premise?
One of the primary components regarding the cost-effectiveness of moving to the cloud is human resources transformation. What we have observed in virtually every industry is that, despite the fact that cloud computing does more of the heavy lifting in terms of IT needs, organizations do not need to reduce their IT workforce. Rather, they end up simply redefining IT roles. This professional realignment, something SADA Systems intentionally strives for in our projects, empowers IT departments as well as the rest of the business to focus on proactive services and driving greater value to the business.
Another component of cost-effectiveness is the brand value increase that organizations experience after moving to the cloud. This includes increased agility that allows companies to take advantage of new opportunities for growth, communication tools making it easier to connect with clients or partners, and also fostering a collaborative environment increasing overall productivity. Working in the cloud transforms workflows and gives businesses a critical advantage that results in tangible profits and company growth.
Although the initial transition to the cloud does require some investment, companies we have worked with have reported that the Return on Investment (ROI) becomes more profitable in the long term. Beyond the initial price of migrating to either Google Apps or Office 365, we encourage customers to contact us for detailed price quotes, as unexpected expenses such as additional security, disaster recovery, storage, support, and other services can add to the overall investment required to move to the cloud. Research indicates that initial cost concerns to move to the cloud are falling- (dropping from 71% in 2009 to 56% in 2012), and studies by Forrester Research that feature both Google and Microsoft cloud solutions have demonstrated extremely high ROI figures.
For example, one of our clients, LACMA, estimated annual cost savings to be $125,000 based on servers, maintenance, productivity, licenses, and support hours. Many other clients have been spared enormous storage costs, including WesTech, which saves $10,000 annually just by not having to purchase additional on-premise storage. Read more customer stories here.
3. How safe is your company information?
Regardless of where your data rests in the cloud, you still own it and retain all rights to it. Your data will not be shared, and you have the ability to download your data and take it with you, to wherever your business goes. Cloud service providers never scan your email or documents for advertising purposes.
Additional encryption, including SSL/TLS, keeps your data safe at both Microsoft and Google state-of-the-art data centers–both at rest or in transit. Both Google Apps and Office 365 have the most sophisticated auditing standards that secure all data and critical aspects such as logical security, privacy, data center security, and incident management. Explore the finer details below:
4. What guarantees that the service will be up and running?
Both Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 guarantee over 99.9% uptime. Premium enterprise subscriptions also both include 24/7 support for any questions or issues that may arise. Also, if your system experiences any downtime, Google or Microsoft will credit your organization for any loss of time. If a customer experiences monthly uptime that is any less than 99.9%, that customer will be compensated with service credits.
5. How scalable are cloud services?
Scalability is another major benefit to moving your organization to the cloud. The most beneficial aspect of Google Apps and Office 365 licenses is that when you purchase a license, which is usually on an annual contract, you then provision a name of the person using it. If employees come and go at your company, it’s extremely easy to add and remove people without any additional costs. Although there are a few different pricing models, and month-to-month subscriptions are available, the annual contract is generally the most cost-effective option. Furthermore, adding a large amount of additional seats is easier and cheaper because you’re paying as you go, and there’s no need to invest in having to bolster on-premise computing.
Most businesses we have talked to that have made the transition to either Google Apps or Office 365 have found themselves requiring assistance from a consultant during implementation. However, these emerging online collaboration portfolios have also opened the door for new implementation services providers, such as SADA Systems, which are bringing additional capabilities to the table, like mobile application development and premium managed services. As key stakeholders and IT leaders analyze the transition they are making to the cloud, they should also consider what the workforce will need to make the transition work: Integration with other cloud services? Custom mobile apps that use a cloud service as a backend repository? Centralized management of multiple cloud services? Change management guidance? On top of that, a reputation for strong project management and remediation capabilities is extremely important to keep your transition moving and prevent disruption to business practices.
Our guest blogger today is Matthew Rice, Business Development Manager at SADA Systems. Matthew has extensive experience handling all of SADA Systems’ inbound requests, with expertise in both Google and Microsoft cloud solutions.