A significant challenge for many growing, small and mid-sized businesses is choosing technology that meets their needs today without ignoring what their needs may be tomorrow. Often, the sheer volume of choices in the market can overwhelm a growing business’ purchasing team, let alone a resource-strapped IT department.
Cue cloud-based solutions. For the unfamiliar, cloud-based solutions (sometimes called cloud-based software or cloud-based technology) are on-demand technology services and resources a business accesses over the Internet, leveraging their technology provider’s IT infrastructure.
For example, most people are familiar with streaming services. These services deliver on-demand video which users access through their internet connection at their convenience. Streaming services are cloud-based solutions. Users do not need to have any of the infrastructure required to store, more, or inspect the data – their streaming provider handles that.
Cloud-based solutions are essential for growing businesses because they massively improve business productivity through enhanced IT flexibility and scalability – allowing smaller organizations to maximize resources while adding users, licenses, and features as the business requires. Cloud solutions further improve productivity and stimulate growth by giving businesses the ability to deploy applications instantly and accelerate workflows. Last, they also offer simplified IT management, lower costs, and peace-of-mind that your technology purchase will last as long as you do.
At Cisco, there are three main categories of cloud-based solutions: cloud-based networking solutions, cloud-based collaboration solutions, and cloud-based security solutions.
Managing and maintaining a company’s IT network is often complicated, no matter how large (or small) a company is. Traditional networking technologies are deploying onsite, usually in a business’ data center. While there are many, many excellent use cases for these larger, more robust routers and switches, the truth is that smaller organizations – or those expecting rapid growth in employee size and/or locations – simply benefit more from the simplicity and flexibility of cloud-based networking solutions.
Cisco Meraki MS switches, for example, offer a centralized dashboard for management. This means that a business’ entire network can be viewed and managed from a single screen, significantly reducing the time required to troubleshoot issues and manage users. Like other cloud-based solutions, these networking products also update automatically when the vendor releases enhancements or patches - ensuring their customers are always using current software. Most important, because a business isn’t limited to the networking products in their data center, increasing data capacity, users, and locations can be done quickly as the need arises. Because no one – business owner or IT manager – wants to spend hours configuring switches and access points to get a new office or branch location online.
As collaboration technologies evolve, they provide growing business’ more opportunities to better connect employees, customers, and partners. Teams can now share ideas in real-time across locations, increase their productivity, and accelerate innovation through video, voice, and presence technology. Businesses can capitalize on these new technologies to reduce costs, increase agility, and streamline processes by extending their current collaboration capabilities through cloud-based solutions.
Much like the networking solutions described above, cloud-based collaboration solutions give businesses’ the flexibility to increase capabilities as their need increases. This ability to grow with your business is further enhanced by the consumption options available – notably cloud and hybrid (part-cloud, part-on-premises) offerings.
No matter which option is right for your business, cloud and hybrid cloud collaboration offerings such as Cisco WebEx and video endpoints deliver the same enterprise-grade experience and application performance expected from on-premises solutions. Now any business can take advantage of the cloud with confidence.
Cybersecurity should be top of mind for businesses’ of all sizes. And despite what you may think, there are security solutions for businesses of any size that can protect, detect, and remediate threats. Like the networking and collaboration products already discussed, the cloud has expanded the use case for advanced cybersecurity products by lowering the cost of consumption per user without affecting the quality of service. In fact, leveraging cloud-based security solutions can even enhance an organization’s security posture – giving them more intelligent, accurate, and powerful protection.
An example of this is Cisco’s Talos threat intelligence group, who monitor millions of malware samples and terabytes of data per day from Cisco customers and other sources. The intelligence gathered through Talos is pushed to Cisco’s Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) solutions to better protect customers from cyber threats. Not only is threat data shared with Talos more easily through cloud-based solutions – such as AMP for Endpoints and Cisco Umbrella – but the cloud-based nature of these products means the updates coming from Talos are implemented immediately. So your business, devices, and network security are always up-to-date.