Cloud software and your business

There may be a whole host of reasons why you choose cloud technologies for your business, whether its the flexibility of being able to work wherever you have access to the net, the afford ability of only paying for those services that you need, the security of being rest assured that even of your computer crashes, your data is safe, or simply having constant access to the latest version of a specific accounting software program or the latest in business planning software. Whatever your reason, Cloud computing is transforming the way we do business. 
Whatever type of cloud service you are considering, cloud computing provides an opportunity to review and improve existing business processes and reinforce best practice.
Assessing service providers
Before implementing cloud computing in your business, you need to consider the following issues:
Data protection - how will you protect your data, and what measures has the service provider put in place to ensure that your data is secure? What level of responsibility will the service provider take for any data loss and what are your legal obligations for your data?
Business continuity - in the event of service downtime, a security breach or loss of data, how will your business continue to operate? What back-up systems do you have in place? What level of support and financial compensation will the service provider give in the event of an incident?
For more information, see the pages in this guide on data protection and cloud computing and business continuity and cloud computing.
When choosing a service provider you should also consider:
  • what service availability guarantees can the provider give?
  • what penalties and compensation will they incur if the service is interrupted?
  • how much will the service cost and what are the options for upgrading or downgrading your service requirements?
  • what are your legal obligations if you want to end the contract early - eg change providers?
  • what level and types of support will your service provider offer?

Make sure your business is ready to work 'in the cloud'
To be able to work effectively 'in the cloud' your business needs a fast internet connection. Cloud computing works most effectively when you can upload as much data to the provider's servers as you download from them. SDSL (symmetric digital subscriber line) internet connections are preferable to ADSLs (asymmetric digital subscriber lines) as they support faster upload speeds.