04th July 2014 Posted by Warren Paull
Cloud computing is evolving rapidly, with everyone from small businesses to large multinationals adopting this new technology. Industry experts believe that the trend will only grow and continue to develop further.
In the simplest of terms, cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage and process data, rather than storing this data on a local server or personal computer. Keep in mind, however, that there is actually no standard definition of the term; you will find various definitions of what cloud computing is.
The cloud makes it possible for you to access all your information from anywhere at any time, essentially removing the need for you to be in the same physical location as the hardware that stores all your data.
Types of Clouds
There are different types of clouds that may be utilised depending on your business specific needs.
Public Cloud: A public cloud can be accessed by any subscriber with an internet connection and access to the cloud space.
Private Cloud: A private cloud is established for a specific group or organisation and limits access to only that group.
Community Cloud: A community cloud is shared among two or more organisations that have similar cloud requirements.
Hybrid Cloud: A hybrid cloud is a combination of at least two clouds, where the there is a mix between public, private or community.
Choosing a Service
There are 3 different types of services that providers offer, each providing a specific function that gives users more or less control depending on their specific needs. Your needs will vary according to how you intend to use the cloud space and resources.
The three types of services you can integrate into your business are Software as a Service (Saas), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). These three types differ in the amount of control that you have over your information and how much you can expect your provider to do for you.
Software as a Service: Gives subscribers access to both resources and application, making it unnecessary for you to have a physical copy of the software installed on your computer. It also makes it easier to have the same software installed on many computers. In Saas agreement, you have the least control over the cloud.
Platform as a Service: Gives subscribers access to the components that they require to develop and operate applications over the internet.
Infrastructure as a Service: Deals primarily with computational infrastructure. The subscriber completely outsources the storage and resources, such as hardware and software that they need.
As the role of finance executives becomes more strategic, there is a growing need for organisations to improve their ability to provide information and insight to increase efficiency and gain a competitive edge in global markets. Integrating cloud computing services in your business can offer many benefits. To evaluate these benefits we can use MoretonSmith’s ero57 software as an example.
ero57 empowers companies to automate most of their workflows, which in turn reduces the amount of resource requirements an organisation might have had previously. Another benefit of automatisation is that it enables the operation of finance departments to become more focused on the effectiveness of their activities. With this in mind, it facilitates finance executives and members of staff to work more collectively by improving access to data and using the insights and analytical tools that MoretonSmith’s accounts receivable management software provides them.
Using a cloud based accounts receivable software like ero57 also prevents many of the errors that occur when manually entering data from one system to another. The software comes with built in controls that can automatically detect if duplicate entries have been made. Organisations will also enjoy the benefit of giving their staff the control and access to data that is both authorised and relevant to them. This will ensure that overall financial integrity remains intact.
Having all your data stored on a cloud server can raise cause for hesitation amongst those unfamiliar with the technical ins-and-outs of the technology. MoretonSmith’s ero57 accounts receivable software, in common with any other reputable company in this space, provides an outstanding level of security that goes well beyond what the average company is capable of implementing internally. That said, you shouldn’t rely exclusively on your software and cloud provider to implement every measure of security; security lies in the quality of management applied to your IT resource. Any organisation looking to integrate cloud services should already have a strong team that can manage security and compliance adequately. Reputable companies like MoretonSmith can however ensure and protect the integrity of all their clients customers’ data, and minimise the potential for data loss, by providing a fail-safe system with cyclical backups of all databases, websites and configuration information. All of your data should be stored off site via a high speed data connection, ensuring services aren’t impacted and further security is also established.
Another advantage of switching to the cloud is that you will be able to access any information from anywhere, at any time. Cloud accounting software makes it easy to provide you with secure access to your accounting applications through an internet browser, a mobile phone or a tablet.
Like MoretonSmith’s fast and reliable service, it will enable you to reduce any up front capital expense and at the same time, it provides the flexibility to scale services up or down, depending on business activities. A good provider will offer charging models in line with this – for example, at MoretonSmith, the fast and reliable service we offer is scalable for a small monthly fee increase and vice-versa.
MoretonSmith’s ero57 solution offers cloud technology built on enterprise level infrastructure using Microsoft Technology that delivers high performance. The ero57 infrastructure runs off of the fastest 10GbE network backbone to access data stored on the latest SSD (solid state drives) storage technology – this means its simply very fast. ero57 also takes into consideration the fact that every few years certain events may occur, such as having to replace an old server, upgrading it, an outage or another type of malfunction. With this in mind, ero57 is maintained by MoretonSmith’s in-house development team comprised of .NET specialists and application architects; it is essentially managed for our clients, thus eliminating any unnecessary hardware or maintenance costs. Finally, and vitally for any finance application in this space, ero57 meets PCI DSS standards and MoretonSmith are approved on Visa’s website: visamerchantagentslist.com.
When implemented properly the cloud is one of the most cost efficient methods to use; it drastically reduces the operations and maintenance costs of IT infrastructures. The opportunity costs associated with keeping IT on premise or switching to the cloud will allow you to assess any potential action you might take. When choosing the direction of IT spend, it is important to consider that roughly 70 to 80 percent of the time it is estimated that the average IT department’s time is a cost to the business – time spent on activities and processes that don’t create value for the organisation. Therefore, in simple terms, the opportunity in the cloud is to create value and utilise that 70% to 80% of time more effectively, creating value for the business.
Cloud computing can offer many benefits to organisations across many industries.
Firstly, it allows you the freedom and flexibility of choosing the type of cloud and services that give you more or less control over your information, depending on your business activities.
Secondly, it increases ease of use by allowing executives and staff to access information and data through any internet connection on various devices.
Thirdly, it improves efficiency by streamlining workflows, therefore freeing up more time for finance executives to focus their time more efficiently in creating greater value for the company and its stakeholders.
And finally, it offers the benefit of being able to work in real time, giving finance executives the ability to make better decisions in an instant.
Overall, the cloud provides increased efficiency, better usability and more flexibility.