Visit any IT forum and chances are you’ll come across this type of question:
“What are the benefits of hosted email and backup, particularly for small or medium businesses?”
There was a time when most IT pros would quickly weigh in with the routine round of arguments against migrating such services to the cloud: Lack of control over the service, lack of accountability by the hosting provider in the event of data loss, sub-par customer service, and questionable cost savings. This stereotype is so prevalent that in another blog, we look at 5 common myths surrounding hosted services that still persist among many professionals in the IT world.
But lately, IT pros have been changing their stance when it comes to cloud-based services such as Hosted Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. That goes for online backup and recovery, too. And what they have to say just might surprise you:
The Benefits of Going Hosted
(According to 8 IT Pros)
IT Pro #1:
We recently looked into this same issue and found that the most common reasons for moving from in-house to hosted services are:
1. You can shift capital expense investments to predictable, regular operating expense spending.
2. You can more easily align costs to need.
3. You can massively reduce the need for financial predicting.
4. You get increased agility.
5. You’ll get massively better security and reliability with hosted services.
6. You can greatly reduce your dependence on your in-house facilities. Few SMBs own a facility of sufficient quality to adequately run services locally.
7. You get transparent data access from anywhere, since remote access is the only mode, rather than a failover mode.
8. You get specialized support for each service, instead of having to rely on one or a handful of local generalists to support several systems.
IT Pro #2:
Here’s another point: less physical software to manage. Far too often the SMBs I deal with run into trouble when they have to load a program like QuickBooks on a new PC, but can’t because they can’t find the install disks. Problem solved with the hosted model; you only have to keep track of the license agreement, service level and purchase records.
IT Pro #3:
In non-technical terms? If there’s a natural disaster and your building is inaccessible or without power for a week… there’s the ultimate benefit.
IT Pro #4:
I think the cloud makes perfect sense for small or medium-sized businesses that are not bound to a specific location or that do not have some kind of automation with machinery. But as soon as the latter comes in, you end up with a hybrid model.
IT Pro #5:
Increased agility… in my opinion, that’s the biggest reason. There’s so much more flexibility—not only when it comes to accessing your data, but it also allows you to invest all that time and money into other areas of your business that you can grow. Owning infrastructure sometimes creates huge time and financial dependencies. Since there’s no real ownership involved with cloud services, you have the agility to move to another service without incurring any real loss in terms of hard costs.
IT Pro #6:
These days, IT is more about helping businesses access the right technology, and less about building systems. Hosted solutions can certainly help there.
IT Pro #7:
Another point I haven’t heard yet: additional support. When moving services to the cloud, you can push some of your ticket flow to the hosting provider. We recently moved our phones to the cloud and now, instead of fielding support calls, I point users to our vendor and focus on more pressing matters. Granted, it’s not the main benefit of moving to cloud services, but it shouldn’t be overlooked.
IT Pro #8
I think there are tons of benefits of moving to a cloud-based infrastructure. You can reduce your datacenter floor space by up to 75%, reduce cabling and reduce your total cost of ownership.
Struggling with your in-house solution?
Many SMBs do not have the IT infrastructure or staff to efficiently manage a business email environment such as Microsoft Exchange; even fewer have a strict backup policy to adequately safeguard data.
Hosted services can make more sense in terms of efficiency and ROI, since they eliminate most of the capital expenses and the day-to-day tasks that tend to monopolize an IT staff’s time.
Hosted services can also be a good interim solution for growing businesses that aren’t sure what their IT needs will be in 2-3 years. Rather than over- or under-spending on infrastructure, you pay only for what you use, thereby optimizing ROI. A good hosted solution will also give you the agility to instantly scale your services as you grow.
The debate continues. What would it take for you to delegate your email or backup to a hosting provider?
*Update 17 Sep 2014: SkyNox now goes by a new name. Details