‘The Cloud’ is a term on everybody’s lips at the moment – but do you really know what it means? Many people use this phrase, not fully understanding what business cloud solutions are – indeed many are unaware they are already using some form of cloud computing.
So, talk to EC-MSP for some no-nonsense advice. Our cloud support team will tell you everything you need to know, but were too afraid to ask.
As an IT support company serving SME businesses in London, we often produce network diagrams to show clients how their networks function. These diagrams contain the basic elements that make up a network and the symbol traditionally used to represent the internet is a cloud – which is where the term ‘cloud computing’ first originated.
Today, a broad definition of the cloud is ‘a set of virtualised resources provided via the internet’. There are several aspects of cloud computing that EC-MSP can help you with – emails, backup, file storage, desktop access and cloud server support. It all depends what makes sense for your business.
What is Microsoft Office 365?
Microsoft’s cloud offering is Office 365 – providing you with cloud email, file storage and desktop software – and it has become the fastest growing product they have ever released. Office 365 sets you up with Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint and all of the Office family that you are used to, but they are no longer installed onto your computer. Instead they exist as apps accessible via the internet. Some packages also allow for software downloads onto a maximum of 5 devices.
When you move to the cloud, you may no longer require your Exchange server or file server, which has the potential to save you money in various ways: you no longer need worry about hardware failing, or extending its warranty, paying electricity bills associated with its use, or the air conditioning in your comms rooms.
The cloud allows you to ‘rent’ space, services and software that will be billed to you monthly, or annually from various providers. The space in question is generally a huge data centre where millions of different people’s information is held. All of the data stored in one data centre is also mirrored to a second data centre in a different location to minimise the risk of data loss.
In addition to full blown cloud solutions, where everything is moved from your comms room to a hosted environment, there are also hybrid cloud options where some aspects are moved over – such as your emails and Office suite – whilst files and folders remain stored in your office on a server or a NAS box.
Away from work, if you use Outlook Online, Gmail, or web platforms such as WordPress, then you are already using the Cloud as all of your data is stored away from your PC at home. Services like DropBox and SafeSync are also widely used cloud services you may have come across.
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Cloud computing for email continuity
Communications explained: “Email is the lifeblood of our organisation, so our number one priority was to guarantee messages would always be delivered – even in the event of a complete server crash”.
Shine is a leading light in the field of public relations and needs no reminder of the importance of good, reliable communications. When Shine asked its long-standing IT partner to recommend an appropriate business continuity solution to ensure it could always function in the event of a business disaster, EC-MSP performed a detailed analysis of their operations. After considering all options, Shine opted to focus its attention on an email continuity solution, as well as an online backup service.
EC-MSP dramatically improved the resilience of the corporate email system through the design and installation of a continuity service, which can be triggered within 4 minutes of a server crash.
Now, in the event of an Exchange server failure, an authorised member of staff, or the EC-MSP service team can activate the alternative delivery system to ensure email messages continue to reach PCs and Blackberrys without users ever realising that a fault has occurred. A web portal which stores a 30-day history of all company emails is also being used by Shine to keep critical address data, such as next of kin contacts, which may be required in other disaster scenarios. Furthermore, critical company files are now available for download to any Web-connected PC, thanks to secure access to an automated online backup system.
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