01 Aug

The Cloud in Practice – a Guide for SMEs

The opportunities to use the cloud are countless and SMEs are, of course, seeking to use hosted workspace services that meet their individual needs. This will differ by sector – a manufacturing company will have different computing needs to a marketing agency for example.

However there are many commonalities to doing business no matter where your business focus lies and, unsurprisingly, it is in these areas the uptake of cloud-based computing has been highest.

This includes core services such as productivity applications (most notably Microsoft Office 365), collaboration services and data time and money. Cloud-based email, website management and social media management tools are also commonly used by SMEs.

More specialised services such as customer relationship management (CRM), HR and accountancy applications are less prevalent at present although growing steadily in popularity. Though many organisations identify a need for these, the uptake to hosted applications is slow.

Needless to say security is also an issue that concerns many businesses hesitant from accepting hosted solutions as the way forward. More and more software providers, including Microsoft are now adopting the new philosophy with a focus on security: “mobile first, cloud first”.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 therefore becomes a cloud management solution that enables businesses to adopt the best features of CRM and ERP and to combine both services on a single platform under a single data model, but in a totally secure environment.

By moving to this solution, you can design and deploy across board, all customisations within the systems to Dynamics 365 for phone, tablet and web applications. Dynamics 365, Dynamics NAV and Dynamics CRM are available as on-premise installations or “in the Cloud” – also known as Software as a Service (SaaS).

The number one benefit of SaaS is that you can access the system anywhere you have an internet connection and your data is always up-to-date. Fast implementation, no internal system management responsibilities required nor expensive servers or operating system software and you can access the data from any device that supports internet browsing.

The potential risk of data security is greatly reduced. With Microsoft your data is in one of the most secure environments conceivable, and much more secure than hosting your own data on premise. Alternatively your data and applications can be hosted on third party secure digital workspace services with the same level of peace of mind. Citadel secure digital worksapce, provided by Synergy Technology offer this alternative SaaS service.

Preparing to make the move to Cloud

It is possible overall cloud usage is understated as many businesses may be using cloud computing tools without even realising it. Also, with such rapid growth in the market, demand is changing all the time. If your business hasn’t already taken the plunge, maybe now is the time to at least be considering it.

There’s no doubt your organisation could transition totally to a cloud environment, delivering many significant business benefits from lower costs and easier scalability to complete mobility and added security. However, there are many options to consider when migrating to the cloud. To discuss how cloud technology would suit your business needs contact Synergy Technology today to get started.

Most prevalent applications

If you aren’t a technology professional then it’s likely you won’t be aware of the changes the industry’s biggest brands are making to their services to take advantage of the cloud. Here is a run-down of the more notable business packages that are now readily available via the cloud:

Productivity software – For a small business it’s possible to run your main business functions in the cloud. Your core productivity software such as email and Microsoft Office have cloud computing counterparts branded
Office 365. If you run a creative business, Adobe Creative Cloud offers their software from the cloud.

Storage solutions – Buying a server is a big capital investment for a small company, but cloud storage is now a viable alternative.

Accountancy services – Accountancy software providers have been quick to offer services for the cloud. Small companies can buy Sage on subscription. For mid-sized companies they offer Sage 200 Extra Online.
But whilst Sage is probably the most well-known, other providers are in the space. Consider Xero if you are a small business, and Pegasus Business Cloud if you have more complex needs.

Marketing software – There’s a wide range of powerful software and applications that help the marketer. Of particular note is CRM software such as SuperOffice that helps companies manage their client and prospect interaction and relationships to develop existing business and win new business.

Bespoke applications – Hosted platforms such as Synergy Technology’s Citadel platform provide the platform to develop and deploy bespoke cloud-based applications. Using Citadel enables smaller businesses to fully leverage the cloud’s power and create new services that give them a competitive edge.

Exploiting the cloud with your IT provider

The role of your IT provider will depend on how much cloud-based computing you are going to do and how complex your business is and its requirements are.

Synergy Technology can help you set up cloud-based services offered by our Citadel platform and make sure you have suitable hardware to access them. We can ensure the software is compatible with your current services and test it before you roll it out to your team. As any movement into the cloud is likely to be gradual, it is important you receive help integrating the new services with your other business processes, which are not currently in the cloud.

Citadel secure digital workspace provides SMEs with a flexible, scalable alternative to in-house IT systems. Delivered by the internet, your workspace is hosted by Citadel and can be accessed remotely from a wide range of recommended devices that support internet browsing including PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Anywhere that has access to WiFi .

Ultimately, your organisation can transition totally to a cloud environment, delivering many significant business benefits from lower costs and easier scalability to complete mobility and added security. However, there are many options to consider when migrating to the cloud. To discuss how cloud technology would suit your business needs contact Synergy Technology on 0345 456 0050 today to get started.

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