Cloud solutions are no longer the stuff of science fiction, writes Mark Meikle-Braes, Manager: Learning Technologies at Bytes People Solutions. Cloud-based technologies and the efficiencies they deliver are becoming a way of life for businesses regardless of size, industry or customer base. Have you moved yet?
By speeding up communication and contributing to environmental conservation by cutting down on paper use, email hinted at the potential of technology. The cloud is fulfilling that promise with a quantum leap that revolutionises connectivity options and eliminates the need for physical, on-premise hardware.
In the world of training and development, cloud solutions provide alternatives to the traditional model that required a facilitator or trainer in every classroom. They also make the administration involved in the management of learners far easier, more efficient and flexible.
At Bytes People Solutions, five cloud-based learning technologies are available:
- International company Questionmark’s cloud offering is called OnDemand and will soon be the platform on which all our existing on-premise customers will be hosted. Questionmark OnDemand covers all a customer’s hardware, back-up, security and software needs.
- Trivantis, another international partner, has a cloud-based learner management system (LMS) called CourseMill, which offers pretty much the same as Questionmark. CourseMill, however, plans to have an offline delivery solution in the near future.
- Clevva is a South African company whose hosted solution does not require any additional hardware purchase.
- Signify, also a local LMS, has a cloud offering ideally suited for smaller companies due to its pay-as-you-go offerings.
- At BPS we offer a hosted solution for smaller clients on our own LMS.
In case you are not entirely convinced that the cloud is right for your business, here are some reasons why you should at least consider it:
Strategic vs operational IT
Most companies have a range of servers to manage their operations. Cloud services relieve IT managers and support staff of the burden of servicing hardware, instead allowing them to focus on strategic initiatives.
By hosting your applications in the cloud, you position your cloud service support team close to your solution. As a result, updates, upgrades and enhancements can happen seamlessly. Your service provider also makes sure that all the security you need is in place and meets in-house standards.
In addition, scaling up or down can be arranged quickly and efficiently.
Secure your data
Recent ransomware attacks on some of the world’s larger companies, has highlighted data security issues. Digitally stored data is convenient and easy to retrieve, but it can also fall into the wrong hands far easier than the lever arch file in your bookcase. Not that hard copy archiving is an option anymore in a world of big data and IoT.
A proper, aka safe, on-premise storage solution is a comprehensive and expensive undertaking. Consider the back-up processes and server room environment, UPSs, generators, fuel, labour and after hours stand-by required to truly say you have an efficient storage and disaster recovery solution in place (hoping of course that your primary location does not burn down).
Data loss prevention and security are some of the most compelling reasons for going the cloud route.
With cloud-based security, your data is automatically backed up off-site, ensuring that everything is protected simultaneously and that nothing is lost due to electricity outages, human error or natural disaster.
Fierce competition between cloud providers guarantees the continuous upping of the security game. Their dedication to security, and the resources they spend on it, far outstrip what any single business can commit.
Furthermore, the best cloud providers offer proof of independent security assessments and certifications that vouch for their methodologies, practices and controls across all security domains. They also adhere to ISO standards and subject their systems to penetration testing to prove their mettle against cyber criminals.
Cloud services can be bought on a pay-as-you-go basis, scaled up or down in real time, and stopped whenever your needs change. The days of having to commit to costly infrastructure and manpower investments are gone.
In addition, companies save on annuity expenses such as software licences – in the cloud, software is bought as a service.
Stay connected to your business
Being connected is a hallmark of our times. We expect that we can contact a friend or family member at any time – and the same goes for work colleagues.
Businesses have to ensure that the right information is accessible, wherever and whenever, in the interest of productivity and customer service… and the only way to do this is through cloud services.
Many businesses are already working on Office365 or gearing-up to do so. Staff can access work e-mails wherever they are, from any device with an internet connection. Data is backed up in the cloud and it is secure.
We find ourselves in the digital age. Continued growth and prosperity depend on our ability to move with the times by embracing the solutions that help us do so.
You have to engage your stakeholders where they are in their collaborative and dynamic environments. You have to move to the cloud.