Belfast Telegraph

Cloud brings blue sky thinking

Diarmid Sloan believes Cloud technology offers firms anytime access
Diarmid Sloan believes Cloud technology offers firms anytime access

With the summer holidays approaching, can business owners afford to take time away from their desks? Diarmid Sloan of K-Point Internet Solutions explains how cloud technology offers the perfect solution

Cloud technology is one of the key trends for this year, and its popularity is growing as it allows business owners a more flexible working environment, by giving access to data anytime, from any device anywhere in the world.

Research carried out for the Cloud Industry Forum, which polled IT and business decision-makers across the private and public sectors, found that almost half already use cloud services. The private sector leads the way, with those employing more than 20 people ahead of smaller businesses in adoption (52% v 38%).

Cloud services are perfect for carrying out business activities as they offer much more choice of software application, being used to access email, group calendars, file storage, offsite backups and customer relationship management systems. These core business activities are essential for running the 'back office' and enable the remote teams to stay on top of activity while away from their desks.

There is no need for large investment in hardware, rather you pay for programmes as you need them, and for what you use. This Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model come with free trials so there is no commitment to sign up. This will ultimately deliver infrastructure cost-savings for cash-strapped businesses.

The largely anticipated cloud storage feature by Google is said to be replacing most of Docs' features in 2012. With Google Apps, all work is automatically saved in the cloud allowing us to perform business tasks as well as sharing key data with staff and clients. For example, our own product RentPro is a web-based property management application targeted at landlords managing their own property portfolios right through to letting agents operating in a multi-branch environment. The software simplifies all aspects of letting: managing rental arrears, void periods and maintenance. As it uses cloud technology, users can have constant access from anywhere in the world but can also rest easy knowing that they have unparalleled levels of security, resilience and regular backups. Our team is based in Warrenpoint, however we can still provide immediate support and resolve any issues even if the client is based in Scotland, England or even Spain - something that's not possible with an office based server solution.

Data security is a common and understandable concern associated with using cloud applications, as is the reluctance to let data move outside our local office infrastructure. In fact, when dealing with reputable application providers your data is more secure in remote data-centres, backed up continuously, and safeguarded against common office disasters such as such as hard disk failures, stolen laptops viruses, fire, or flooding.

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Data will continue its relentless migration into the cloud, and the promise of access to anything, anytime, anywhere will fast become a reality, delivering considerable infrastructure cost-savings at the same time. The cloud is here so businesses ought to be asking, 'when' not 'if' they will start reaping the benefits.