You’ve heard the terms cloud and cloud infrastructure before — but what do they actually mean?
For business owners, cloud infrastructure can be thought of as business software that exists online.
And the cloud itself is the sum of all the interconnected servers and computers that you can access through an Internet connection.1Yes, I am butchering the technicalities. But for business owners, this is enough.
What Does Having Cloud Infrastructure Actually Mean?
The old-school paradigm for business technology and software was this:
- Physical file servers in office buildings.
- Email being limited to individual physical computers in the workplace.
- Having to be at work to use certain applications.
- Applications installed on the work computer, with no access from a phone or home computer.
- Remote work (“telecommuting”) was exceptionally difficult.
- Single Excel spreadsheets stored on a local office computer. If that computer crashed, all was lost.
Cloud infrastructure looks more like this:
- Remote teams able to log in and work from anywhere. Home, beach, the woods — it doesn’t matter.
- All data stored “in the cloud” online, securely.
- Almost all data being accessible via your phone, so you can keep updated in transit and when on-the-go.
- No more big, physical file servers.
- You don’t even really need an office if you don’t see clients face-to-face.
- When a computer dies, you just unbox a new one and download all your data in a couple of hours.
If the Cloud Is So Much Better, Why Didn’t We Do This in the First Place?
Cloud infrastructure is great. And I have no doubt that in a decade or two we’ll have something even better.
The reason we didn’t go from say paper filing cabinets directly to cloud infrastructure is because the mix of technologies enabling the cloud simply did not exist.
We didn’t have abundant, affordable, high-speed Internet.2Some countries like Australia still don’t have abundant, affordable, high-speed Internet 🤦♂️.
We didn’t have cheap, affordable, personal computers.
We didn’t have enough developers and software companies to create complex applications accessible through a web browser.
We didn’t have smartphones and “apps”.
Computers had evolved from a mainframe-terminal paradigm and people were used to thinking that way.
The cloud is simply the result of better, newer and cheaper technology that makes your business more effective and scalable.
How to Use Cloud Infrastructure in Your Business
So how do you actually use and deploy cloud infrastructure in your business?
Well, a lot of the business apps that you use are already in the cloud, like:
- Microsoft Office.
- Adobe Creative Cloud.
- Chat apps like Slack.
- Most CRMs.
- Project management tools like Asana or Monday.com.
Chances are, if you started your company in the last five years, you started in the cloud. And that’s great — just keep going!
But older and more established businesses often still run on a mix of legacy physical technologies and cloud applications… and they need to be migrating everything into the cloud.
The big things I have seen in these older businesses are:
- Files being shared over USB keys instead of Slack or Google Drive/Dropbox.
- Physical file servers.
- Local Excel spreadsheets or (gasp) Access databases.
- Local email files stored on computers in the office.
- CRM and custom tools only existing in the office.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Storage: Google Drive or Dropbox.
- Office Suite: Google Workspace, Microsoft Office, Airtable.
- Creative Apps: Adobe Creative Cloud.
- Communications: Slack.
- CRM: Pipedrive, Zoho CRM, Salesforce.
- Project Management: Asana, ClickUp, Monday.com, Trello.
- Knowledge Base: Confluence, Slab, Notion.
What To Do Next
Moving older legacy infrastructure into the cloud takes time. And it needs to be managed as a project.
You need to see what you have, select new applications, manage the migration, get buy-in from the team, and train everyone.
You’ll also need to write new SOPs.
It will be work — but it will be worth it. It will bring your business forward into the 21st century.
If you need help with this in your business — let’s talk.
- Yes, I am butchering the technicalities. But for business owners, this is enough.
- Some countries like Australia still don’t have abundant, affordable, high-speed Internet 🤦♂️.