Keeping your computer network up to date is one of the hardest and sometimes riskiest parts of your business. Over the past three years we have gotten many inquiries about cloud services from clients looking to break the cycle of continually buying and maintaining more and more equipment, which sits there and grows obsolete whether you use it or not. However we have always advised a strong dose of caution against jumping too quickly into the cloud, as the risks and expenses tended to outweigh the rewards… at least until now.
One of the first concerns has always been the available Internet connection. Until recently Internet speeds have not been fast or reliable enough to handle cloud services, and in some locations that is still the case. But where services like VerizonFIOS have become available, this concern is no longer an issue.
Another concern has been the security of your data and the reliability of the hosting company. While this concern will never fully disappear with any Cloud service, we have seen the market mature to a point where these risks have faded and are no longer a barrier for the mainstream use of Cloud services.
In the end, the largest and most important hurdle has always been cost. In order to use most of the current cloud services you still need to have a server, and computer at each desk, maintain it, and in many instances, keep separate cloud providers for email, data backup, remote document storage and access, etc. While some problems were solved by the cloud, the added costs just didn’t make sense for those without special niche needs.
But being very aware of the ever growing interest in the many benefits brought by moving to the cloud, we have constantly monitored the marketplace and have tested out many cloud based products trying to find those that would start to make more economic sense for the broader market. We have seen the costs of online backup plummet while the reliability has improved greatly, and we have seen a growing acceptance of cloud based email and document storage/access solutions, especially with the explosion of smart phones. And now, we have found the first cloud solution that affordably removes the need to purchase and maintain PCs and servers, removing one of the larger headaches of iT implementations. Essentially, the Cloud can now eliminate the need for buying computers for each individual employee. Instead, much like any utility service for your business, you are billed monthly for however many PC desktops you use. Instead of a PC, each desk would have a “Receiver” device to which you can hook up all of your desktop items (monitors, keyboards, printers, USB Drives, etc). This Receiver (using 1/3 less electricity than a PC) then connects directly to the Cloud using secure Citrix in order to access the PC desktop. In addition, when away from the office, you can access your desktop and company server securely from your iPad, iPhone, Android phone/tablet, or your home desktop or a laptop (with no need to leave anything on and running overnight in the office). The only requirement being that you have an Internet connection that can handle the basic speed requirements. While VerizonFiOS is recommended because they offer faster upload speeds with less built in delay than the other cable providers, we have found that it does work just fine on user setups using providers like Comcast.
By removing all the PC and Server hardware from the office, a great deal of time and effort can be saved on computer maintenance, and the disruptions of hardware failures can largely become a thing of the past. Even if your desk gets flooded, or stolen by aliens, or crushed by Godzilla, you can simply log in securely from any other cloud Receiver or any other PC/Smartphone/tablet, from any location with Internet access, and your customized desktop, with all your documents, settings and server access, will be there just as you left it.
After reviewing the cost of owning and maintaining a PC by looking at our records over the last decade across all of our clients, we have been able to get a good idea of the yearly actual costs including hardware, software, maintenance, and the average risks of hardware failures (bad hard drives, power supplies, motherboards,
memory, etc), and it is now finally within the range of hosting the PCs in the cloud instead. We also believe that cloud hosting will continue to decrease in price over the next few years, making the hosting option more and more attractive as time goes on.
Beyond the costs being close for either in-house, or cloud basedPCs/servers; there are the other benefits of moving to the cloud:
- Never need to replace a computer or server
- Backup and anti-virus costs are included
- Securely access your desktop from anywhere
- Greatly reduced technical support costs to maintain equipment
- Highly scalable and easily upgradable
- Greener solution, since it uses less electricity
- Much less hardware that can break, and therefore less downtime during the year.
- Only pay for the users that you have that month, no more paying for that PC that sits unused in the corner, growing obsolete.
- Easier to budget costs … no more “surprise, you need to buy 3 more desktops this week for thousands of dollars you hadn’t planned on.”
So finally we feel there is a comprehensive cloud solution where the performance and costs are in a reasonable range, and the benefits make sense for a lot of our clients. However this solution is not for everyone and there are some requirements (mainly good Internet access) that would need to be met. So if you never want to pay up front and maintain the hardware of a computer or server again or are interested in moving your company to the cloud in some form, please call us at 866-9MH-TECH (964-8324) or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our technicians will be happy to answer your questions.