There are two answers to this question, a very technical answer, and a more generic answer that focuses on the benefits. We will try and answer both at a high level, and give you the opportunity to speak with us if you require more information.
For business purposes, no matter if you are B2B or B2C, or any of the variations that seem to continually arise, the cloud is utilised in three different ways:
SaaS | Software as a service - Having your applications available in the cloud means that the security, availability, scalability and ownership costs are all managed by a third party. As with all all walks of life, you have the good, the bad, and, quite frankly, the ugly, available to you when it comes to third party software partners. So when it comes to selecting your Software Partner, choose carefully, like you do when purchasing hardware, office environments and the like. Its a crucial part of your business!
PaaS | Platform as a service - You may want to have your own applications and your own dedicated servers, this may feel like a better way for you to go, or a gradual step towards the migration of your business from on premise, to off premise. Whatever the reason, hosting dedicated servers, applications, data or information, PaaS is an option that would allow you to have dedicated environments for your business and still benefit from moving part of your IT architecture into the cloud.
IaaS | Infrastructure as a Service - Iaas specifically provides virtualised hardware, or in other words, computing infrastructure. This includes virtual server space, network connections, bandwidth, IP addresses and load balancers. The cloud provider is responsible for maintaining this pool of hardware, which is pulled from many servers and networks, that of which are usually stored across more than one data centre. However, the client can build their own IT Platforms by getting access to the virtualised components.
All of these forms of cloud computing can be utilised to create a cost effective and easily scalable IT solution, where the company does not need to manage the underlying hardware, as this is outsourced to the cloud provider. If the operations of a business fluctuate, or if the business is looking to expand, the cloud resource can be accessed as and when they need it, rather than having to purchase, install and integrate hardware themselves.
Why the Cloud Works for 3EN
As of the 1st April 2016, 3EN will be completely in the cloud, including our telephone systems, back office and ERP. No longer will we have centralised hardware that needs managed and controlled on premise, and we are happy to share and discuss our logic and reasoning with you. In fact, as a company who stores so much of their information in the cloud, we often get asked “What is the cloud?”. A basic answer would be, the cloud is the information component of the internet that data can be stored in. It is all of the information you can access remotely as long as you have internet access. When information is stored on the cloud, it means that it is stored in a way that you can access it from PC, Mac, tablet or phone.
Internally, 3EN uses NetSuite as its ERP application, Microsoft 365 as its office application and Skype for business as its phone application, all of which are in the cloud. We have worked hard, and continually invest in the methods and means to allow us to integrate these three solutions, to give us a controlled, managed, and integrated business solution that are flexible, scalable, economical. This means we can focus on delivery to the client while eliminating duplication of data input and better manage data quality. The cloud allows us to convert our data, to information that is used as knowledge, to manage our business. This results in increased wisdom and understanding. NetSuite lets us store ALL of our core information in the cloud, and all we have to do is log on to access it. This often begs the question of, “is my information safe?”, which is understandable, but we will answer that question next week.
The benefits of Cloud Computing within 3EN
Why have we taken this path? Reduced cost is one, 3EN as a growing company could not afford the cost or the effort to ensure an on premise world-class solution that would be properly managed, focused, and continually invested in.
Security is another aspect. The thought of 3EN having to manage, maintain, and organise the security of systems distracted us from the core of our business in providing services and solutions to our clients.
Another key is the quality of data giving us a single truth to manage; and a single input of entry to store information. This helps us transition our data into something that is useful, meaningful, and manageable, it allows us to transition along that path of data = information = knowledge = wisdom. However most importantly it gives us scalability, flexibility, and a world-class best practice environment that allow us to maximise productivity and deliver to our client base.