Just about every software vendor in the SMB space has a cloud-based option. In some cases, the only option ever available was cloud, such as with Salesforce CRM and Clio legal practice management. But there are QuickBooks Online, Sage Business Cloud, Oracle Financials Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk A360, Abacus Private Cloud, Amicus Online.. The list goes on naming programs that were formerly client-server models requiring a host server for the main application combined with client desktop software, all designed to interconnect within the confines of the office.
Microsoft was also among the list of on-premise, server-based systems. But in 2007, Microsoft began offering BPOS, a precursor to today’s Microsoft Online Services, which put Exchange email services and SharePoint document management into the cloud. After BPOS, Office 365 was born in 2011 and now serves over 120 million subscribed users per month. From personal experience, I shut down my on-premise Exchange/SharePoint server in 2008 and have never looked back.
Systems: This is the easy part. Subscribe to your cloud service of choice and then sign in. The engineers have designed the system and they continually make improvements (included upgrades).
- Now with so much importance placed upon the ability to connect to the Internet, many companies subscribe to a second ISP for failover.
- The old client-server system authenticated user identity through its Active Directory, a service found within the Windows Server operating system. But now that more users are logging in from afar, the new authentication system that can manage devices and users beyond the four walls is known as Azure Active Directory.
Processes: Probably the most important aspect of business processes is related to security. Password management and protection from malicious attacks are key to preserving the integrity of business operations.
- Microsoft has been doing a fine job with authentication by offering a variety of options, including Windows Hello, which is essentially face recognition that performs in an elegant fashion. In addition, there are other biometric systems, as well as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) using your mobile device as an authenticator.
- What used to be considered a mediocre antivirus product, Windows Defender has evolved to become an integral part of a collection of security tools all working as a holistic solution across Windows 10 and Office 365. Recent tests by outside parties have found Windows Defender to be 100% effective, especially when combined with other layers of security within the Microsoft ecosystem.
People: Here’s the hardest part because people generally do not like change. They’re afraid of the unknown and frustrated with what they don’t know. It is here that the business has the intrinsic responsibility to properly train its users.
- With training comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes confidence – confidence to lead others as a champion and confidence to represent the company in all affairs.
- Without training comes the danger of ignorance.