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How small businesses should be using the cloud

By Rachel Ziv - 3 November 2016 12

Cloud computing

If you’re confused by all this talk of “cloud computing”, you’re not alone.

It’s one of those terms that everyone uses, but not a lot of people seem to know what it means.

The term has become synonymous with the internet in recent times, and many are proclaiming its wonders and ability to save individuals and businesses a ton of money, time and stress.

So … what is it? And how exactly does it work?

Rahul Chawla, tech mastermind from Technowand in Mitchell, has been helping local businesses replace their traditional infrastructure with cloud computing for years.

“It’s the way of the future,” says Rahul. “Gone are the days of expensive servers, email exchange and software licenses that only last a few years. You don’t need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on anti-virus or Microsoft Office software. You don’t even really need to own a powerful computer anymore.

When you’re in the cloud, you’re working online. There are no large servers taking up space in your office, or clunky software programs slowing your computer down. All the data and software is stored on servers at a remote location. And because these servers are dedicated to providing that service, they are, by nature, faster and more secure than anything you would have traditionally had on site.”

So cloud computing basically means working over the internet – rather than locally. You access your software programs by logging into your online account, rather than opening up the program on your laptop or computer. It seems there is now little difference between clicking ‘Open’ in My Programs or ‘Open’ in My Favourites.

Some programs, like Microsoft Office, allow you to use your software locally or online. You buy a subscription that keeps you up-to-date with the latest Office versions, but you can still opt to work offline. And instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a CD and then installing it, you can pay as little as $18 a month and get instant access (for a single user).

From a business perspective, the general consensus is that you can save thousands of dollars by avoiding purchasing servers or software, and adopting the new “per user” cloud approach.

“When we sign up a new business, we go through every piece of software they need – from email to data storage, accounting software, antivirus and so on. Then we create a cost for every user that needs access to that software, which is generally very affordable.”

Technowand can also offer unlimited desktop/technical support services within the monthly fee, where businesses can call IT support whenever they need help (without having to hire an IT manager).

“We’re committed to absolute convenience where IT is concerned. And cloud computing provides incredible convenience for just about any type of business.”

To learn more about Technowand and their cloud, IT support, web design and software development services, contact them on 6100 2135 or visit https://technowand.com.au.

This is a sponsored article, though all opinions are the author’s own. For more information on paid content, see our sponsored content policy.

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12 Responses to
How small businesses should be using the cloud
1
wildturkeycanoe 6:35 am
08 Nov 16
#

I do not like this move to cloud computing at all. In preparation for our 2nd child to start high school, we looked at the options for a computing device and found that most machines are designed to be used on the cloud.
The biggest downfall with it is that you can’t work off line. Say you are a student going on a camping trip or holiday with the family and you need to catch up on assignments. Upon reaching your destination you whip out the tablet, power it up and then find that not only don’t you have access to your files, but you don’t even have the software on your device to do word processing or spreadsheets. What if you are a photography student, with an 8GB device, which has half its memory used up in storing the operating system? You are limited in how many photos you can capture before it runs out of space.
New Windows software seems to be based on accessing everything on cloud servers, as most devices have too. If you haven’t got the internet, it becomes a brick.

Another consideration for businesses is security. If all your data is being stored in some South American country and it’s storage center is taken over by a rebel army, what of all your information? Will it really be safe? With all the advertising and hype from the software companies that want you to use their systems, do you really know who is looking at your private information? It could be copied and pasted all over the world and you’d have absolutely no control over it, even if you knew about it. Corporate espionage, blackmail and all sorts of advantages can be made from accessing the financial details of a competitor. What of our personal information? If all your photos, stories, scans of personal identifying materials are all on a machine overseas, how easy for someone to access that and steal your identity or tinker in your personal life?
Yes, there are supposed to be security measures in place, unbreakable firewalls and such. Do you really believe that all our information is safe when the likes of Wikileaks and espionage agencies can access highly sensitive government documents from countries around the world?
I do not trust the cloud any more than I see the benefits of having it. I will keep my photos and personal documents in my backup drive at home, where nobody from the other side of the planet has access to it, thank you very much. There is no doubt Big Brother is watching and slowly creeping deeper into our daily lives. The more they know about you, the more vulnerable you are to manipulation, deception and influence by powers we do not even know exist. The less they know about me, the better. [Tin foil Faraday hat sitting snug on my noggin’]

2
dungfungus 8:36 am
08 Nov 16
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

I do not like this move to cloud computing at all. In preparation for our 2nd child to start high school, we looked at the options for a computing device and found that most machines are designed to be used on the cloud.
The biggest downfall with it is that you can’t work off line. Say you are a student going on a camping trip or holiday with the family and you need to catch up on assignments. Upon reaching your destination you whip out the tablet, power it up and then find that not only don’t you have access to your files, but you don’t even have the software on your device to do word processing or spreadsheets. What if you are a photography student, with an 8GB device, which has half its memory used up in storing the operating system? You are limited in how many photos you can capture before it runs out of space.
New Windows software seems to be based on accessing everything on cloud servers, as most devices have too. If you haven’t got the internet, it becomes a brick.

Another consideration for businesses is security. If all your data is being stored in some South American country and it’s storage center is taken over by a rebel army, what of all your information? Will it really be safe? With all the advertising and hype from the software companies that want you to use their systems, do you really know who is looking at your private information? It could be copied and pasted all over the world and you’d have absolutely no control over it, even if you knew about it. Corporate espionage, blackmail and all sorts of advantages can be made from accessing the financial details of a competitor. What of our personal information? If all your photos, stories, scans of personal identifying materials are all on a machine overseas, how easy for someone to access that and steal your identity or tinker in your personal life?
Yes, there are supposed to be security measures in place, unbreakable firewalls and such. Do you really believe that all our information is safe when the likes of Wikileaks and espionage agencies can access highly sensitive government documents from countries around the world?
I do not trust the cloud any more than I see the benefits of having it. I will keep my photos and personal documents in my backup drive at home, where nobody from the other side of the planet has access to it, thank you very much. There is no doubt Big Brother is watching and slowly creeping deeper into our daily lives. The more they know about you, the more vulnerable you are to manipulation, deception and influence by powers we do not even know exist. The less they know about me, the better. [Tin foil Faraday hat sitting snug on my noggin’]

Some people will say you are paranoid but in this cyber age, only the paranoid survive.

I cannot even try to understand what all this cloud stuff is about – I am still wondering what MP3 was.

All these amazing things and yet the Canberra Times still can’t fold a newspaper without creasing it through the crosswords and today the cartoon strip titled Dilbert had a Garfield cartoon.

3
Acton 11:26 am
08 Nov 16
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

I do not like this move to cloud computing at all.

I was/am also very dubious about cloud services and had the same thoughts and suspicions. However, on reflection I am going to give this a go and last night ordered a Chromebook from the US. What is a Chromebook you ask?

A Chromebook is a notebook which comes with Google’s Chrome OS operating system instead of Windows or Mac OS X. Chromebooks generally come with either 16 or 32 GB of internal storage, which helps keep prices low while still providing very fast drives. Chrome OS is designed to work with cloud services and Google assumes that you’ll be storing all of your documents, photos, and files on Google Drive instead of on your Chromebook’s internal drive.

Chromebooks are now being recommended by ACT government schools. See for example:

http://www.adhs.act.edu.au/i?ct@adhs/which_device_do_i_need

Here is the message (in part) circulated to all parents this week by a Canberra government primary school:

“We understand that many parents and carers of year 4 and 5 students are eager to be organised and make a device purchase for their child in preparation for the 2017 school year. As we are a government agency, we cannot recommend a particular retailer or provider of specific devices. As mentioned earlier, our preferred device is a Chromebook, however, Chromebooks are not readily available through retail stores as they are relatively cheap and do not provide any significant profit margin for them. The best options for purchasing Chromebooks are online.”

It is disappointing that major Australian retailers like Harvey Norman, JB HiFi, Good Guys, Domayne etc are letting Australian parents down by failing to stock Chromebooks. They seem unaware of, or unconcerned about the need for kids to now use Chromebooks at school. Or perhaps they are not stocking Chromebooks so as to maintain their Windows 10/Mac market. So much for corporate support of education.

4
dungfungus 12:22 pm
08 Nov 16
#

Acton said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

I do not like this move to cloud computing at all.

I was/am also very dubious about cloud services and had the same thoughts and suspicions. However, on reflection I am going to give this a go and last night ordered a Chromebook from the US. What is a Chromebook you ask?

A Chromebook is a notebook which comes with Google’s Chrome OS operating system instead of Windows or Mac OS X. Chromebooks generally come with either 16 or 32 GB of internal storage, which helps keep prices low while still providing very fast drives. Chrome OS is designed to work with cloud services and Google assumes that you’ll be storing all of your documents, photos, and files on Google Drive instead of on your Chromebook’s internal drive.

Chromebooks are now being recommended by ACT government schools. See for example:

http://www.adhs.act.edu.au/i?ct@adhs/which_device_do_i_need

Here is the message (in part) circulated to all parents this week by a Canberra government primary school:

“We understand that many parents and carers of year 4 and 5 students are eager to be organised and make a device purchase for their child in preparation for the 2017 school year. As we are a government agency, we cannot recommend a particular retailer or provider of specific devices. As mentioned earlier, our preferred device is a Chromebook, however, Chromebooks are not readily available through retail stores as they are relatively cheap and do not provide any significant profit margin for them. The best options for purchasing Chromebooks are online.”

It is disappointing that major Australian retailers like Harvey Norman, JB HiFi, Good Guys, Domayne etc are letting Australian parents down by failing to stock Chromebooks. They seem unaware of, or unconcerned about the need for kids to now use Chromebooks at school. Or perhaps they are not stocking Chromebooks so as to maintain their Windows 10/Mac market. So much for corporate support of education.

Won’t Gonski fund this?

5
wildturkeycanoe 2:44 pm
08 Nov 16
#

dungfungus said :

Acton said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

I do not like this move to cloud computing at all.

I was/am also very dubious about cloud services and had the same thoughts and suspicions. However, on reflection I am going to give this a go and last night ordered a Chromebook from the US. What is a Chromebook you ask?

A Chromebook is a notebook which comes with Google’s Chrome OS operating system instead of Windows or Mac OS X. Chromebooks generally come with either 16 or 32 GB of internal storage, which helps keep prices low while still providing very fast drives. Chrome OS is designed to work with cloud services and Google assumes that you’ll be storing all of your documents, photos, and files on Google Drive instead of on your Chromebook’s internal drive.

Chromebooks are now being recommended by ACT government schools. See for example:

http://www.adhs.act.edu.au/i?ct@adhs/which_device_do_i_need

Here is the message (in part) circulated to all parents this week by a Canberra government primary school:

“We understand that many parents and carers of year 4 and 5 students are eager to be organised and make a device purchase for their child in preparation for the 2017 school year. As we are a government agency, we cannot recommend a particular retailer or provider of specific devices. As mentioned earlier, our preferred device is a Chromebook, however, Chromebooks are not readily available through retail stores as they are relatively cheap and do not provide any significant profit margin for them. The best options for purchasing Chromebooks are online.”

It is disappointing that major Australian retailers like Harvey Norman, JB HiFi, Good Guys, Domayne etc are letting Australian parents down by failing to stock Chromebooks. They seem unaware of, or unconcerned about the need for kids to now use Chromebooks at school. Or perhaps they are not stocking Chromebooks so as to maintain their Windows 10/Mac market. So much for corporate support of education.

Won’t Gonski fund this?

I haven’t got a cheque from Kevin 07 for the laptop my child was supposed to get for school yet, but they still keep promising to give them to the kids. There aren’t enough school units to go around in class so my son had to borrow my wife’s work laptop so he can do his school work in class [thanks to his tablet screen goin’ on the blink, again]. It gets expensive when you consider you also have to provide them with data at home to do their studies, a lot of which seem to depend on watching Youtube videos. That and antivirus software does eat into the household budget. Not to mention the cost of purchasing the gear in the first place, of which there are so many choices with different reviews. No standard guide from school, just some “helpful” hints on the specs to get by on.

6
Holden Caulfield 4:54 pm
08 Nov 16
#

Is this a paid piece?

7
Acton 5:11 pm
08 Nov 16
#

I don’t know what Gonski funds or doesn’t fund. I do know Canberra is well-off and the vast majority of Canberra parents can afford and I think would wish to purchase quality educational items for their own kids, whether attending public or private schools, without expecting taxpayer funding for everything.

Afterall, if we can afford overseas holidays, new cars, a fancy bike, upgraded mobile phones and regular snacks of smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grained toast etc, then we can afford a simple and relatively cheap device for our kids to use at school and for their homework. The problem with Chromebooks is not affordability. It is availability.

8
DJA 6:28 pm
08 Nov 16
#

To work in the cloud, one must have internet access, in enough quantity, to be able to upload and download one’s own data.

This is a decision to be made in the context of each business. As someone who looks at business processes (and a whole bunch of stuff that goes around them), I know that adding additional interactions (connecting through the internet to someone else’s storage) introduces additional risks or costs that have to be managed.

9
Charlotte Harper 7:29 am
09 Nov 16
#

Holden Caulfield said :

Is this a paid piece?

Hi Holden, yes it is. It has included the “sponsored content” tag all along but we did on this occasion forget to include the line at the end that we are now adding to all paid content. I have just added it in. Sorry about that.

10
wildturkeycanoe 6:08 am
10 Nov 16
#

From a business point of view, sure there are savings by not having to install equipment on site, but if the data is stored overseas in a foreign data centre, how can you know your data is safe? Do you even know where it is stored? It would only take a government coup, a devious competitor or system wide crash to lose all that data or have it released to unknown persons. For tax purposes, you need to have this information . If it goes missing on the Cloud, where is your backup? For this reason alone, you would need to have the information saved to a local machine or device, so the cost savings of having your business use the cloud just became negligible due to the need for a secure backup locally.
Not being able to run your business without internet available is another big risk. If Telstra, Optus or any of the big internet suppliers has a hiccup, your business falls on its face. Without the net you are back to the dark ages and will cease to trade. It hasn’t been unusual for the internet to crash for days or even weeks. Can your business cope with that if all its data is only accessible via the internet?
Just as the Clinton email scandal has rocked the world with its impact, how safe is a business’ emails and data when it is all out there waiting for somebody to hack it and then find the right bidder to purchase it?

11
flynnn 7:23 am
10 Nov 16
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

From a business point of view, sure there are savings by not having to install equipment on site, but if the data is stored overseas in a foreign data centre, how can you know your data is safe? Do you even know where it is stored? It would only take a government coup, a devious competitor or system wide crash to lose all that data or have it released to unknown persons. For tax purposes, you need to have this information . If it goes missing on the Cloud, where is your backup? For this reason alone, you would need to have the information saved to a local machine or device, so the cost savings of having your business use the cloud just became negligible due to the need for a secure backup locally.
Not being able to run your business without internet available is another big risk. If Telstra, Optus or any of the big internet suppliers has a hiccup, your business falls on its face. Without the net you are back to the dark ages and will cease to trade. It hasn’t been unusual for the internet to crash for days or even weeks. Can your business cope with that if all its data is only accessible via the internet?
Just as the Clinton email scandal has rocked the world with its impact, how safe is a business’ emails and data when it is all out there waiting for somebody to hack it and then find the right bidder to purchase it?

And yet Businesses use emails all the time which most of the time contains sensitive information. There is of course always going to be that concern but does that mean everyone has stopped using e-mails.
Using the internet itself is a huge risk because of the number of viruses you could be introduced to. However that is not stopping anyone from not doing so.
We take preventative measures. Hence you can’t keep talking about a potential hacking that may or may not happen?

12
Holden Caulfield 1:21 pm
10 Nov 16
#

Charlotte Harper said :

Holden Caulfield said :

Is this a paid piece?

Hi Holden, yes it is. It has included the “sponsored content” tag all along but we did on this occasion forget to include the line at the end that we are now adding to all paid content. I have just added it in. Sorry about that.

No problems. Thank you for the clarification.

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