Your Business With James Caan 2017 - 193

CLOUD SERVICES

or none at all, while others offer
such a fully managed solution they
effectively become an extension of
your company.
You should also consider disaster
recovery services. While one could
increase your costs, it's usually far
less expensive than what you'd lose if,
for example, your website went down
for any length of time.

SAFE AND SECURE

JAMES SAYS
"Once you've selected
your provider,
plan enough time to
migrate. Understanding
the impact and letting
users know what this
means are often
overlooked and
limit success"
switches, Hosted VoIP uses the
internet, saving you a considerable
amount of money on equipment. One
of the key features is the ability of the
VoIP provider to route calls to and
from your existing system, so your
service levels won't suffer.
Hosted VoIP also includes calltracking and allows you to access a
complete history of customers and
their previous interactions with your
company. This is particularly useful
for reporting and training purposes,
as it allows you to monitor staff
performance in depth.

PHOTOGRAPHY: SHUTTERSTOCK

PICKING AND CHOOSING

While the cloud has plenty of
obvious benefits for businesses of
all sizes, especially those that aren't
in a position to invest in a huge IT
department, it's important to choose
the right provider or host.
One of the primary considerations
should be how in-depth the
support services are. These can
vary significantly, with some hosts
offering either very basic support

If your business regularly deals with
sensitive or confidential data, it's also
important your provider can secure
this effectively. Look for one that
offers firewalls, distributed denial of
service (DDoS) defence, intrusion
protection systems (IPS), security
reviews and penetration testing.
They should also have some sort
of security accreditation, such as
ISO 27001. Some public-sector
clients require this to be in place
as standard, so if they make up a
large part of your customer base
you'll need to demonstrate to them
that your systems are hosted by an
accredited provider.
Security also refers to any internal
restrictions you may want. If you're
working on a classified deal that only
a few people in the company should
be aware of, for example, you'll
want only them to have access to the
documents. Likewise when somebody
leaves, you'll want to terminate their
access to any resources. Make sure
the processes for these have been
clearly explained to you and are easy
to put in place.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT

Think about whether a fixed-cost
or pay-as-you-go model is best for
your company. While pay-as-you-go
can be cheap, if you suddenly have a
huge surge in the number of visitors
to your website or application, you
could be left with an unexpected and
possibly quite hefty bill.
Shop around and negotiate a good
deal. Cloud providers have immense
purchasing power, and often get
hardware, bandwidth and power at
low prices, and may be able to pass
this on to you. Some providers have

reduced their prices more than a
dozen times in less than a decade.

MEASURING SUCCESS

Once you've got your cloud system in
place, you need to be able to measure
the improvements it has made to
business. Some of the key technical
metrics you want to look at are the
amount of data sent and received,
the number of times a system failed
and the utilisation of capacity.
To start with you probably won't
move fully to the cloud and will still
have some infrastructure on-site.
Some sophisticated platforms have
the ability to monitor key data
from third-party cloud systems,
and measure them alongside your
standard in-house systems. Examples

Cloud computing
can make your
business more
productive and
more profitable
include Amazon Web Services and
Microsoft Azure.
Financial metrics are important
too. Have you seen an increase in
profit margins? Given that cloud
computing eventually leads to a
decrease in costs, this is something
you should be able to note.
And make sure you get feedback
from both customers and employees.
Has the user journey improved for
customers, and have your employees
been able to automate certain
processes or become more efficient?
There's a lot of choice and a lot
of questions you need to ask. But
as long as you can work your way
around the different offerings, cloud
computing has the ability to make
your business more productive and
more profitable.

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