There is still a lot of complexity in Public Cloud Computing today but the rate at which it is becoming easier is accelerating. Most organizations will not go from 0% to 100% in the Cloud. Like server virtualization was in the data center, it will continue to be a crawl, walk, run approach for many organizations. Creating the right Hybrid Cloud strategy to allow your business to take advantage of the Cloud to reduce cost, complexity, and management of on premise solutions today can allow you to re-purpose resources (people and dollars) from maintaining the current state to growing your business.
Here are three simple things you can be doing in the Cloud today to increase your team’s productivity.
Messaging (Email, Instant Messaging, and Virtual Meetings)
Migrating email and messaging systems to the Cloud is as easy as it gets. The benefits and features obtained in the areas of ease of use, security, record retention, and backup make this a no-brainer. Turnkey compliance, simple and secure messaging, and high, SLA driven, availability make this very appealing to most, if not all, businesses. Pricing models for solutions like Microsoft Office 365 and the ability to manage (or have a partner manage) your primary messaging platform make deploying, managing, and upgrading on-premise mail, SPAM, and Security solutions a thing of the past. By migrating your messaging to Microsoft Office 365 you can:
- Pay Monthly or Annually for only the Features you use
- Increase Security through secure and encrypted email as a standard feature
- Reduce SPAM and Antivirus costs through protection as a standard feature
- Have up to 50GB of mail data per mailbox and the ability to set the retention periods required by your business
- Optionally route mail on-premise for on-premise backup
- Bundle solutions such as the Microsoft Office Suite, Skype for Business, SharePoint, OneDrive, and others to increase your feature set.
Migrating messaging platforms to the Cloud has become a very well-defined practice. Experienced partners that have done many migrations can migrate your email and collaboration solutions with very little to no downtime for the end users. In most cases, the updating of mobile devices or client systems is automatic and non-disruptive. In the worse-case scenario, it is end-user self serviceable in an intuitive way.
Backup and Disaster Recovery
Storage, Disaster Recovery Sites, and Physical Backup solutions are costly and still require significant capital investment in the hardware and physical data centers to support them. Most organizations lack a true disaster recovery solution or an off-site backup location. The costs to implement these highly available solutions are either out of reach for the Small and Medium Business or continuously growing as data and retention period requirements expand.
- I need to backup all or some of my data offsite: Microsoft Azure Backup allows you to specify exactly what files, folders, or systems you want to backup using an easy to use client for all of your systems or just your critical data. With very little cost associated. You can achieve up to 99 Years of secure, encrypted, retention. Restoring data, either one file, or an entire server, can be done through the same easy to use client.
- I need a fail over site for High Availability and Disaster Recovery: Microsoft Azure Site Recovery allows you to replicate with a little as 5 minute Recovery Point Objective (RPO) your physical or virtual (VMware or Hyper-V) servers to the Microsoft Azure Platform. Since the virtual machines in Azure are not online when standing by, you are not paying for resources you aren’t using. Thus, significantly reducing the costs of implementing and maintaining a second data center or disaster recovery environment.
Configuring these solutions can be classified as easy (Azure Backup for Files) to somewhat complex (Creating a DR Site in Azure) but the costs and time savings to build and maintain a second physical data center is significantly more than the cost of leveraging the scale, availability, and security of the Cloud.
Collaboration and Workflow Solutions
Managing Intranet, Business Intelligence, and Business Process Workflow platforms on-premise is complex. For some organizations, tight integration to line of business systems make this a necessity. For most organizations, Microsoft SharePoint Online, PowerBI, and Office365 Groups can solve the same challenges with significantly less IT administration overhead to support the back-end of the solution.
Most organizations looking for an Intranet are concerned with a few things:
- Effectively communicating policies, information, culture, and important notifications to members of the company that allow them to be more productive or access information more efficiently.
- Create workflow solutions that allow manual business processes to be automated or consistently executed
- Allow members of the company to collaborate effectively with a variety of technical and social solutions that also are designed to keep information protected, secure, and backed up.
Historically, businesses turned to Microsoft SharePoint to be the central hub for these various goals. Most organizations have struggled with the complexity of the one-stop-shop solution either from administering the back-end technology or creating a governance strategy that made the end result intuitive to the end-user. SharePoint is still alive and well but in the Cloud, it is more clearly defined into it’s business uses so that the end user experience can be more intuitive and purpose-built.
- OneDrive – Document storage and collaboration on any device, any operating system, anywhere.
- SharePoint – Company Intranet and Business Workflow Solutions
- PowerBI – Business Intelligence, Dashboards, and Reporting Solution
- Office 365 Groups – Alternative to SharePoint for team collaboration
- Yammer – Enterprise Social Media and Communication Platform
In this instance, more is less. More solutions, a la carte or bundeled pricing models, allows an organization to provision and deploy the right tool for the job as opposed to one tool that can do many things. Businesses are embracing this as a way to clearly define the purpose and value of a solution. Further allowing their end users to be more productive in utilizing it to drive efficiency.
All of these solutions are available to try before you buy. Feel free to utilize some of the links below. Note: Shameless plug, the links below allow you to acknowledge that my organization (eGroup) triggered your interest. If you find this information useful, it would be much appreciated and we are glad to help with any of the solutions above.