Make your business safer, leaner, and more mobile in the cloud

No matter what industry you operate in, or the size of your company, in today’s fast moving society, if you haven’t yet embraced the cloud then your company is missing a major trick.

Advances in technology have levelled the playing field, allowing small and medium sized companies operate at a level that was once only available to big corporates, saving money, boosting cyber security and saving money in the process. If you think your business is too small to benefit from moving to the cloud, then look no further than The Irish Harp Centre.

A micro SME, located in County Limerick with two staff, The Irish Harp Centre is a music school and a one-stop-shop for all to do with the Irish harp. Last year we helped them migrate their existing on-premises servers to the cloud, via Microsoft 365. The move meant they went from spending over €3,000 a year on their IT to less than €300.

However, the big saving Janet Harbison, director at The Irish Harp Centre, has made on her IT costs is just one benefit. There are many more. Below I’ve highlighted some of the real perks Janet now enjoys as a result of moving to the cloud.

Mobility – Email and data on the go, across all devices even on other people’s PCs. This has been extremely valuable for Janet when she is working away from the office, especially for concerts and international travel across Europe for teaching and lecturing. This was not possible with the old server setup, which could only be accessed while at the office in Limerick.

E-learning – Using Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync ) with the HD (high definition ) camera and the unlimited cloud storage, Janet will be able to conduct e-learning sessions and share them with clients anywhere in the world.

Cost saving– As I mentioned above, by decommissioning the server, Janet has benefited from direct cost savings for the maintenance costs plus the capital expenditure saving to replace this server in the future.

There is also an added benefit that the Irish Harp Centre data is now backed up (14 times ) in the cloud which, as revealed during the preparation for the migration, was not happening on her server for over five months. Data loss is difficult to quantify however, only the owner knows the true cost of losing important information including intellectual property such as compositions and correspondence that Janet Harbison relies on so much for her work as an artist.

Collaboration – Janet can now collaborate with other users rather than sending individual attachments via email, and increase the opportunity for collaboration with other organisations across Europe.

Promotion – With the new video channel in Office 365, Janet will be able to promote her business to targeted audiences rather than over-sharing her intellectual property (ie, her music ) to the general public as in the case with YouTube and other social networking sites.

Evergreen – Irish Harp Centre now has the latest Office applications with the ability to work offline when travelling or if the broadband service to this rural location is disrupted. In the last 12 months, 150 new features were added to Office 365, however the subscription price of Office 365 remains the same which is where the term ‘evergreen’ relates to this cloud service.

Backup – Analysis of the server at the time of migration showed that the backup of data was being performed to an on premises external hard-drive which had been plugged out for the previous three months, which could have caused serious data loss if the server failed during that time. Also if the server and external hard-drive was destroyed or stolen then the client would have no backup of their data which would have been catastrophic as this contained irreplaceable recordings and compositions.

Multiple Aliases – There are only two staff however the organisation has multiple domains and email addresses which are now located under two email accounts as aliases which the need for additional licences. This is powerful feature in Office 365 as this allows a SME to present different personas to different markets without the need to increase the cost of Office 365 licences.

Janet is just one of thousands of Irish SMEs that are benefiting from moving their operations to the cloud. I believe practically all businesses will operate in the cloud by 2020. And those that don’t will struggle to survive.

Sean Brady is CEO of CloudAssist, a certified Microsoft Cloud Partner with a number of other technology partners such as Docusign, Plantronics, and SP Marketplace to deliver value-added cloud services for the Irish SME sector. He will be speaking at ‘Transform Your Business in The Cloud’ in Galway on Tuesday April 12.

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