The future of corporate IT will inevitably include some element of the cloud. So the issue becomes how to use the cloud to help your business meet its strategic goals.

There are several cloud vendors options available; why would you choose the Microsoft cloud stack for your business?

 

  1. Native integration with your on-site Microsoft network

If your business has an existing network built on Microsoft technologies it makes perfect sense to adopt the Microsoft cloud. Microsoft Office 365 (the productivity suite), and Azure (the cloud-based infrastructure platform) all integrate natively with Active Directory for instance.

This means that your existing permissions, roles and security settings can be replicated to applications and data hosted in the cloud too – without significant reconfiguration.  You will have the ability to run both your existing network and the cloud at the same time so you are in control about when to move workloads to the cloud. For example, moving email to Office 365, whilst retaining the file server in the office. You are in control of the pace of change.

 

  1. Built for business

Unlike some cloud services offered by other providers, Microsoft’s entire platform has been built with the needs of business in mind. Security, sharing and permissions are at the heart of operations, again mirroring the set up in your local data centre.

How to use the cloud will depend on how you plan to meet the challenges of the future. Collaboration and platform flexibility are core benefits of the cloud, allowing you to build IT systems that change as your strategy does.

 

  1. Advanced data analytics for all

Microsoft Office 365 includes more than just the usual Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook applications. Tools like Power BI bring the power of advanced analytics to your data for instance.

Power BI allows you to link disparate data sets to unlock insights that are not immediately apparent. Better still, this kind of analysis is usually performed by a skilled data scientist – but Power BI has been designed so that any experienced Excel user can do it.

 

Microsoft office 365 analytics

 

  1. Familiarity

Your IT Manager already has extensive experience in managing and maintaining Microsoft applications and servers – and most of this experience can be translated directly into the cloud. After all, many of the systems are virtually identical.

Hosted Exchange, Microsoft’s cloud email server is almost identical in operation as Exchange 2019. And the same is true of the SQL Server database. Your existing IT engineers will be familiar with how to manage and maintain systems, allowing you to get up to speed quicker.

Applications like Microsoft Office and the Exchange email server are embedded in your operations – and your employees’ working habits. They use the tools instinctively throughout the day.

Adopting Microsoft cloud services like Office 365 allows your staff to pick up almost exactly where they left off. They can be productive on the day of the migration – and they will require minimal retraining with the new tools.

 

  1. Any place, any time, any device collaboration

Microsoft cloud makes your most important apps and data available any place, any time, from virtually any device. Office 365 has also been designed to increase collaboration, allowing your staff to work on documents simultaneously – even more easily than if they were sat on adjoining desks in the same room. This is exciting because your employees can now be productive, wherever they are in the world. Microsoft Teams allows workers to communicate in real time too, hosting video and voice calls between workers – all seamlessly integrated in the Office 365 experience.

To understand how that is possible it helps to answer the question – how does cloud storage work?  In your own data centre, apps and data are stored on physical servers. Each server has a finite amount of storage and moving files and applications between them is a headache.

Cloud storage is designed slightly differently however; capacity exists as a virtual layer that is spread across hundreds of servers in a giant data warehouse. That storage layer extends around the world, shared between a network of global data centres.

So long as your (securely authenticated) users have internet access, they can tap into the cloud wherever they are – and without the hassle of setting up VPN connections back to the office.

 

Microsoft Office 365 device collaboration

 

  1. Scalable I.T. infrastructure

Every business experiences spikes in demand for IT resources, although some are larger than others – retailers in the run-up to Christmas for instance. To cope with these peaks, businesses must purchase redundant capacity, or cope with poor performance.

The Microsoft cloud provides auto-scaling as standard, adding storage or processing power to cope with increased demand. When demand returns to normal levels, those additional resources are returned to the shared pool. All without investing in expensive, new redundant hardware that will go unused for most of its life.

 

  1. Pay-as-you-use billing, reduced capital spend

More than simply helping you to avoid the purchase of hardware for redundancy purposes, the Microsoft cloud allows you to avoid buying any new servers or software. Instead of paying up-front for assets (capital expenditure – CAPEX), cloud resources are billed based on use (operational expenditure – OPEX).

This approach ensures you only pay for what you use, no more, no less. The subscription model offers comparatively large savings over the traditional CAPEX system – particularly if your business upgrades with every new Office release.

 

  1. Pick-and-Choose services

Cloud services are available on a pick-and-choose basis, allowing you to build a hosted infrastructure that matches business data needs exactly. Importantly, adding new services to your account is very simple.

In the past, you would need to buy additional hardware and software licenses, and invest time and effort in installing, configuring and maintaining the new system. With Microsoft cloud services, all of those factors are included in the associated subscription fee.

 

  1. Data security and sovereignty

Microsoft takes customer data security extremely seriously. They guarantee that information stored in the Office 365 cloud is not accessible by third parties for instance.

All data is encrypted twice too. Information is secured using the industry standard protocols like HTTPS and TLS while it is in transit between your computers and the cloud. Once uploaded, all data is securely “encrypted at rest”; in the highly unlikely event that hackers breach Microsoft’s enterprise-grade security perimeter, any data they steal is heavily encrypted, rendering it useless.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) places extremely strict controls on how personal data belonging to EU citizens is handled and stored. It is illegal to transfer that information outside the physical borders of the European Union for instance.

The globalised nature of cloud storage means that information may be synchronised outside the EU without your knowledge, placing you at risk of a significant fine. Microsoft OneDrive and other cloud-related services have a significant advantage – you can choose to have your data stored in UK-only data centres, ensuring it never physically leaves the EU.

 Your employees can still access systems any time in any place, but you don’t have to worry about data sovereignty issues when they do.

 

Microsoft security

 

  1. Always on the latest version

With Office 365 your applications and services are always up to date. No more running different version of Microsoft Office in your business with all the compatibility headaches that brings and no more expensive and risky server upgrades. Updates are streamed through seamlessly to your PC on a frequent schedule to avoid big-bang changes. New features and services appear seemingly by magic but it is possible to understand what is coming by subscribing to various Microsoft communications about their Office 365 roadmap. 

For some organisations this benefit is a challenge too far – so if you work in environments where a known and stable system is required then Office 365 may not be for you. For example, nuclear control systems or safety systems. For closed systems that do not have internet access, Office 365 is not viable. However, in most businesses, Office 365 makes complete sense.

 

  1. Simplified licensing

Office 365 licensing model is based on a per user / per month model. If you have tried to understand Microsoft’s traditional licensing models, licensing through Office 365 is simple and makes you think why it was so complicated before. 

Licenses can be swapped to another person, increased/decreased based on your business requirements. 

So if you are a 10 user business, pick the subscription you need and license for 10 users. This can be reduced or increased as your business changes. 

For licensing Microsoft Office via Office 365 is also very generous – for each user, they are entitled to install it on up to 5 PCs/Macs, 5 Tablets and 5 smartphones. More than enough for the most avid tech fan. 

 

Microsoft cloud – a smart choice for your business

The cloud is more complicated than simply addressing the issue of what is cloud storage? But by choosing the right technology stack, you can save time, money and resources – and build a platform that delivers against business need now and into the future.

If your organisation already relies on Microsoft technologies, adopting hosted services like OneDrive, Office 365 and Azure makes good business sense. We’ve outlined eleven good reasons why that is the case here – contact us to learn more.

Microsoft cloud makes your most important apps and data available any place, any time, from virtually any device. Office 365 has also been designed to increase collaboration, allowing your staff to work on documents simultaneously – even more easily than if they were sat on adjoining desks in the same room. This is exciting because your employees can now be productive, wherever they are in the world. Microsoft Teams allows workers to communicate in real time too, hosting video and voice calls between workers – all seamlessly integrated into the Office 365 interface.

To understand how that is possible it helps to answer the question – how does cloud storage work?  In your own data centre, apps and data are stored on physical servers. Each server has a finite amount of storage and moving files and applications between them is a headache. 

Cloud storage is configured slightly differently however; capacity exists as a virtual layer that is spread across hundreds of servers in a giant data warehouse. That storage layer extends around the world, shared between a network of global data centres.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you.