Why St. Louis Businesses Are Embracing Cloud Computing Services

There’s a lot to like about cloud computing. St. Louis businesses can benefit from the cost-savings, security features, and ease of collaboration facilitated by cloud-based solutions. Here’s what you need to know.  

Worldwide spending on public cloud computing will increase from $67 billion in 2015 to $162 billion by 2020, according to IDC, a global market intelligence firm. This surge is fueled in part by a growing number of small and medium-sized businesses adapting cloud computing. St. Louis companies are investing more in IT across the board. According to a recent report, technology hiring in the St. Louis area is on the rise for the second half of 2017. More companies are expanding in or relocating to St. Louis, which is part of what’s driving the trend, but in general, St. Louis small businesses are investing more in digital marketing, mobile, and big data. Cloud services can play a crucial role in data security, and they also offer a host of other benefits.

What is Cloud Computing?

In the past, businesses stored all their data and ran their applications on company-owned and managed servers in their offices. Now, they can do these same functions online. When someone says they’re using cloud-based software, that software is delivered via the internet, as opposed to the “old days,” when we used CD-ROMs to physically install programs on our computers. If a business is using the cloud as part of its data storage approach, that means it is storing critical business information somewhere other than a server onsite. The information lives online.

Let’s take a closer look at why small businesses are using cloud-based services.

  1. Affordability

Cloud computing services allow smaller companies to leverage IT technology that was previously reserved for businesses with big budgets. For example, rather than having to invest in its own network of servers, a small business can pay a monthly fee to leverage cloud computing services. With cloud computing, it is also easy to scale services up or down as your business needs change.

  1. Security

Storing data in the cloud, ideally as part of a hybrid approach in which you back up data locally and online, offers businesses of all sizes important security benefits. For example, if your server crashed or your office was hit by a natural disaster, you’d have peace of mind knowing your data was also stored remotely.

The security benefits of the cloud extend beyond data storage. If you use cloud-based software, or software as a service (SaaS), your software is automatically updated with important security patches. These security updates help protect you from digital fraudsters, who are constantly looking for new ways to infiltrate your system.

The increase in cybercrime also contributes to the growing adoption of cloud services. St. Louis businesses identify cybersecurity as a key concern, according to the previously cited report. If an employee clicks a link and unwittingly downloads ransomware, the damage could extend beyond that machine. New strains of ransomware can encrypt your entire network, even your local backup servers. If you were backing up data to the cloud, you would be able to work with your IT provider to wipe your system clean and start anew from your last backup.

It is worth noting that not all cloud backup providers are created equal, and they are not immune from hackers. Cybercrime targeting the cloud is on the rise. A dual-destination backup approach is just one part of a comprehensive IT security plan.

  1. Increased Efficiency

Cloud-based services make collaboration easier. A simple case in point is when multiple team members are working on the same file. Rather than sending the document back and forth and tracking changes, a system where edits can be easily lost or mismanaged, businesses can opt to use a cloud-based program, such as Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox for Business. Then, multiple users can work from the same master document easily.

When your data is in the cloud, you can also access it remotely, whether you are onsite with a client or working remotely.

Those are just a few of the reasons to consider cloud services. St. Louis businesses should work with an IT specialist to determine what is right for them. Anderson Technologies has a team of St. Louis cloud services specialists who can assess your IT needs and determine, execute, and manage the most cost-effective, efficient, and secure plan for you.

For more information on our cloud computing services, email info@andersontech.com or call 314.394.3001 today.

The Surprising Ways an IT Consulting Firm Can Help Improve Your Business

IT consulting is a catchall phrase for partnering with tech experts to solve an IT-related business challenge. Let’s take a look at the pivotal role technology consulting can play for a small business.

People often think of IT services as a way to help mitigate cybercrime and ensure their business technology runs smoothly. That is true, but small business owners should also consider the role IT can play in facilitating growth and helping them to achieve their business goals.

If you have an IT-related problem you don’t know how to solve, technology consulting may be the answer. An IT consulting firm can help you tackle such challenges as:

  • Designing your IT systems so they can easily scale as you grow
  • Assessing how vulnerable your business is to cybersecurity threats
  • Moving, expanding, or setting up a new office
  • Managing system and network administration
  • Choosing the right software with the help of a software consultant
  • Determining if and how you should move to the cloud
  • Determining what type of equipment to buy and where to purchase it at the most reasonable price
  • Conducting a general or industry-specific compliance audit

This frees up your time so you can focus on business operations and what is most important to you.

If you needed legal or accounting help, you would turn to a lawyer or an accountant. The same holds true for IT! Technology consulting is a professional service that small business owners can use to protect, grow, and improve their businesses.

IT Consulting and Compliance Audits

Your IT partner should be able to offer an infrastructure assessment where they investigate your existing equipment, processes, software, backup approach, remote access connectivity, and more to evaluate performance, highlight risks, and suggest a plan for improvement. This helps to prioritize your IT spending and address potential problems before they turn into costly IT headaches.

Part of this process may include working with a software consultant who will examine what programs you are using to assess their effectiveness and safety. He or she may potentially recommend more cost-effective or better-performing alternatives, or even assist in migrating to cloud-based solutions.

A cybersecurity audit is a process in which an IT consulting firm assesses your network security and data security, uncovers vulnerabilities, and suggests clear actions for addressing them. The audit should include a review of your firewall, network servers, workstations, software applications, user accounts, Wi-Fi, and even your approach to password security. This will help your business protect itself against all kinds of cybercrime, including malware, viruses, and ransomware, which is on the rise in St. Louis and around the world.

A compliance audit is a review of an organization’s adherence to industry guidelines. These can be conducted by government agencies, third parties, or even in-house. For example, if your company accepts credit card payments, it needs to be in compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a set of security standards designed to make sure companies protect customer data. Healthcare companies must adhere to HIPAA regulations, and financial institutions typically have an entire compliance department dedicated to making sure they are “playing by the rules.”

IT security is an important part of all these compliance processes. Your IT partner should be able to run its own compliance audit to assess your performance, and it should be able to assist you if and when you are dealing with audits and certification processes run by third parties, including government agencies.

Technology consulting is a fast-growing specialty, in part because of the crucial role technology and data play in a business’s success. The right IT consulting firm will help you make the best decisions when facing IT challenges or opportunities, whether you are devising a plan for growth, buying new equipment, filing for IT-related certifications, or preparing for, or running your own, compliance audits.

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting firm that loves working with clients to help them reach—or, better yet, exceed—their business goals. Reach out today by sending an email to info@andersontech.com or calling 314.394.3001.