Get your head in the clouds: The key benefits of cloud services to your small business

Geof Robinson, Chief Information Security Officer

Cloud computing is not just the future – it has already well and truly become the business standard. And those who have yet to adopt the technology are facing the consequences now more than ever.

Organisations that have taken advantage of the technology are seeing an incredible payoff during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, maintaining business continuity and resilience while their entire workforce seamlessly works from home. For the less fortunate, they’ve been caught off guard as they lack the infrastructure and capabilities to keep their business running effectively.

Cloud computing enables on-demand delivery of computer services over the internet, typically managed by a third-party provider. This could be services from basic storage, networking, processing power or office applications. This is a shift from having onsite infrastructure which is managed and maintained by the business itself.

Businesses yet to make the jump likely have understandable worries. How much will it cost? Will my data be safe? Why change if my current system is working fine? Cloud services have come a long way, and with the right approach, secure and cost effective.

Secure and Safe Data

From Amazon to Google to Microsoft, these providers have invested considerably into the security and reliability of their systems. Many cloud providers offer advanced security features such as multi-factor authentication, encryption, and access control. A security flaw or hack on their system would be a devastating to these brands, meaning that you can rely on their constant vigilance.

If you’re not comfortable with, or legally cannot store your data offshore, there are providers are offering cloud storage hosted locally. Microsoft is already underway developing their own New Zealand data centres to satisfy this requirement. Cloud storage also provides the ability to access your business’ data anywhere. If your on-premise local storage becomes inaccessible, then so does your data. And it doesn’t matter how secure your data is if you’re unable to use it.

Work Anywhere

It couldn’t be more obvious than now, but there is a strong business case for giving your workforce the capability to work from anywhere. And it goes beyond weathering the pandemic crisis. Global trends have been moving towards organisations offering more flexible working arrangements. For business’ wishing to attract the very best talent, providing a working from home option can be a strong selling point. Flexible working has also shown that it can increase job satisfaction and improve productivity. Additionally, having a cloud-based system can enable you to seamlessly bring external contributors into your work environment – regardless of whether they are in New Zealand or overseas.


Using cloud services gives your business the full capability to scale your infrastructure to the needs of the moment. This solution is quicker and normally more cost effective than the upfront purchasing of onsite technology that needs to be maintained, managed, and upgraded by your business. Cloud providers have the benefit of economies of scale and can offer a range of services catered to your own business' requirements. The result enables rapid deployment and gains more cost efficiency for your organisation. Additionally, your business can seize opportunities quickly knowing full well they upscale of their technology capabilities almost instantly. Alternatively, you can save costs by decreasing capabilities if you no longer require them.

One report I’ve read suggests that 94 per cent of enterprises are taking advantage of the cloud already, so if you haven’t, it’s time to get join. As Covid-19 has shown, it is critical for maintaining business continuity.

When approaching implementing cloud services in your business, I recommend researching what type of service is the best fit for your business.

This article has mostly discussed the public cloud – services and infrastructure shared by all of a provider’s customers. But there are also private cloud services, which is essentially infrastructure dedicated to your organisation, and are useful when you have bespoke workloads, or special security requirements. Some businesses incorporate a mix of public and private called hybrid cloud, which if designed correctly, can give you benefits from each infrastructure class.

Once you’ve understood what cloud models to adopt, your next step is to select which services you want to migrate to the cloud next. What we typically see prioritised is the following: Email, file storage, office applications, business collaboration, accounting, and CRM/ERP. What is most often missed is the most important – identity management and security.

As for specific applications to that can best take advantage of cloud services, I would recommend:

Office 365: This contains the top three items on the list above, and with the proper expertise is also identity management and security

Microsoft Teams: Part of the Office 365 suite this service offers a flexible and intuitive collaboration tools that can boost your team’s communication and productivity. Teams can also be extended to become your business telephone system.

LastPass: Security is paramount, and a rigorous security policy must password conventions. All passwords need to be random and unique, and LastPass will keep a vault of these.