Technology has its fads, we all know that.  So when it comes to cloud computing, it’s understandable that some people are a bit wary. But there is one subtle difference. Cloud computing, isn’t a fad. It’s here to stay. Gartner predicts that the bulk of new IT spending in 2016 will be for cloud computing platforms and applications with nearly half of large enterprises having cloud deployments by the end of 2017, while CRN predicts that by the end of 2015, small businesses will spend almost $100 billion on cloud computing services.

So if cloud is here to stay, should you be on it? While it’s true that cloud computing brings a great many business benefits, it’s not necessarily right for everyone. So what do you need to know? Why does cloud computing make good business sense and is it right for you? Here are my top three pros and cons to cloud computing to help you decide.

The Pros:

1. A Flexible Approach

When you switch to a cloud computing infrastructure, your company data is stored on the servers of your cloud provider (aka the cloud) and you and your employees access that data via an internet connection. This gives your business flexibility. You can work from any location with an internet connection, and on any device. It instantly gives you a remote working facility. Staff can work from home, from meetings, hotels, conferences, the airport, the train… Your business runs around the clock, productivity goes up, and with it, so does morale as flexible working becomes an important employee option.

2. Spread The Cost

There’s a bit of a myth that a cloud computing solution is cheaper than an on-premise solution. Not necessarily so. Though it can certainly save you money. If you’re running six servers, with the expense of purchase, maintenance, power and cooling, and you move all of that data into the cloud and decommission those six servers, then you’re going to see a cost saving. But what cloud does in terms of finances, is turn your capital expenditure into a running cost.

You rent server space on a monthly basis, and the upfront cost to transition your business to the cloud is minimal in comparison to the cost of new hardware. With a monthly recurring cost there comes a point where you break even and it has cost you the same as an on-prem solution would have cost, but it makes cash flow better, helps with budgeting and you can forget about the unexpected costs of hardware failure, licencing upgrades and the like. It’s all taken care of as part of your monthly charge.

3. Business Continuity

The business cost of a data loss can be catastrophic. Imagine if right now, this second, you lost it all. Your offices were burgled, caught fire or were flooded. Files, folders, contacts, calendars, emails, apps…. How well would your business run without them? Whether it was a temporary or permanent loss, the results would be pretty disastrous for most of us. And there’s a much higher chance of that sort of a data loss happening if your data is sat in the corner of your office on a server, than if it’s in a data centre.

Fire, flood, theft and equipment failure are all very real threats to your premises, they are not so much of a threat to the high security data centres that host your cloud data. And if you’re using cloud computing and the worst happens, you can quickly relocate to alternative premises – whether that be an emergency office or your living room, and continue to work, Your business keeps running.

The Cons:

1. Connectivity Is King

Three words – connectivity is king. Without an internet connection, cloud computing is… well, actually, cloud computing isn’t. You can forget it. So you need good connectivity – which isn’t currently available in all parts of the UK, although we’re getting there. And of course, an internet dependent solution carries a risk of downtime, but that risk is no greater than the risk of downtime with an on-premise solution. You still need the internet to send your emails with an on-premise solution. But it’s well worth noting that without good connectivity, cloud computing is a no go.

2. It’s A Control Thing

You do lose a bit of control when you switch to a cloud solution. Your precious company data is being entrusted to a service that you have little, perhaps no control over. This concerns some people, especially when it comes to data protection. So you need to make sure you do your research and choose a reputable cloud provider with a good amount of the right experience. You need to be able to trust them, and likewise they need to prove to you that they’re worth your trust. Committing yourself to a long contract with the wrong provider will cause problems further down the road.

3. It’s Not For Everyone

Not all businesses are ready for the cloud. Not all need it. Making the change to the cloud is a big deal and a lengthy process. If it doesn’t fit your business, then don’t get involved. But don’t rule it out. As your business needs change, and technology changes, you may well find that cloud is the solution for you.

OneDrive for Business update on storage plans and Next Generation Sync Client

Today’s post was written by Jeff Teper, corporate vice president for OneDrive and SharePoint.

Today, I’d like to share an update on our OneDrive for Business storage plans, the availability of our Next Generation Sync Client and several other new capabilities we’re delivering in our December update.

Storage plans

Office 365 customers on our premium Enterprise, Government and Education plans will receive OneDrive for Business unlimited storage. Specifically, this includes unlimited storage for individuals in organizations with more than five people subscribing to one of the following plans:

  • Office 365 Enterprise E3, E4 and E5
  • Office 365 Government E3, E4 and E5
  • Office 365 Education
  • OneDrive for Business Plan 2 and SharePoint Online Plan 2

We will begin rolling out increased storage to these customers by the end of this month, starting with an automatic increase from 1 TB to 5 TB per user. We expect this rollout to complete by the end of March 2016. After this point, customers who want additional storage can request it as needed by contacting Microsoft support.

Customers on all other Office 365 Enterprise, Business and standalone plans that include OneDrive for Business will continue to receive 1 TB of storage per user. While customers on these plans will not receive the full unlimited benefit, we expect it will serve the vast majority of users. Today, most OneDrive for Business users consume significantly less than 1 TB.

Overall, we have taken too long to provide an update on our storage plans around OneDrive for Business. We also recognize we are disappointing customers who expected unlimited storage across every Office 365 plan, and I want to apologize for not meeting your expectations. We are committed to earning your business every day by delivering a great productivity and collaboration service and improving our communication approach.

Next Generation Sync Client for Windows and Mac

After a successful preview program, we are happy to report that the OneDrive for Business Next Generation Sync Client is now available for deployment. Our top priorities for this release were improved reliability and performance, as well as delivering core capabilities such as selective sync, support for large files up to 10 GB in size and removing the 20,000 file sync limit. For IT Professionals, we’ve provided the ability to silently deploy and configure the client on behalf of your end users. The OneDrive for Business Next Generation Sync Client is available for Windows 7, 8 and 10 (8.1 support will be added in the first quarter of 2016) and Mac OS X 10.9 and above. The Windows client is available today with the Mac client being available before the end of December 2015.

With this first release, the Next Generation Sync Client supports OneDrive for Business only, but we will add support for SharePoint document libraries in future releases. In the interim, if customers require sync for both OneDrive for Business and SharePoint document libraries, the Next Generation Sync Client is designed to work side-by-side with the existing sync client.

Additionally, we are actively working on other important features including Office integration to support the co-authoring of documents and sharing scenarios (planned for the second quarter of 2016), as well as a more seamless experience for users who are migrating from the existing sync client (planned for the first quarter of 2016). Go here to learn more and get started.

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