The cloud has been a game-changer in recent years, allowing businesses and individuals alike to access resources on-demand from just about anywhere. But with such a diverse range of remote solutions available, how do you find the perfect match for your business’s IT support needs? In this post, we’re guiding the way, bringing you five cloud-based services guaranteed to elevate any Devon-based small and medium-sized enterprise (SME). Let’s jump right in.

What are Cloud Services?

Simply put, cloud services provide tools and platforms over the internet, allowing businesses to access sophisticated software, storage, and processing power without the need to invest in extensive physical infrastructure. Unlike traditional IT services, most cloud-hosted solutions use subscription-based pricing models that can be adjusted as you go, saving you eye-watering upfront costs. It’s a bit like renting part of an enormous, extremely powerful computer system to handle all your IT support needs, from file storage to applications to cyber security.

Why Local Businesses Need Cloud Support

In an area as tourism-heavy as Devon, internet-based IT services give SMEs a distinct advantage. Due to the seasonal nature of tourism, demand can surge during the summer months and wane considerably in the off-season. Businesses hoping to thrive in this environment have to be able to scale operations up or down to match this, and this includes your tech. Cloud services excel at providing the flexibility you need to adapt to real-time shifts in demand, keeping downtime minimal and your business ahead of the game.

The Best Cloud-Based Services for Devon SMEs

  1. Google Workspace (Formerly G Suite)

What it is: A full suite of cloud computing, productivity, and collaboration tools, software, and products developed by Google. The suite includes things like Gmail, storage and file-sharing capabilities in Google Drive, and organisational tools like Google Calendar, Google Forms, and Google Meet.

Advantages: Google Workspace allows for real-time collaboration across locations and devices, with all data stored online for instantaneous updates. If a team member on their lunch break suddenly remembered an important amendment they needed to make to a document, they wouldn’t have to wait until they returned to the office to make the change. They could do it straight from their phone, alleviating stress about missed deadlines or hard to access files.

With cloud services like Google Workspace, Devon businesses can enhance team collaboration and streamline communication. This simplifies project management and ensures that team members stay on the same page, regardless of their location.

Who it’s best for: SMEs striving to enhance teamwork, or those with limited space and budgets that hold them back from accessing a modern, extensive range of software.

  1. HPE GreenLake

What it is: An IT-as-a-Service offering from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise that provides hardware in your chosen environment. It comprises a catalogue of data solutions, Software-as-a-Service tools, and security measures like access controls and disaster recovery.

Advantages: Since it operates as a cloud service, HPE GreenLake offers IT support at a reduced overhead compared to traditional solutions. Instead of fixed pricing packages, subscription fees are based on what you actually use. GreenLake combines the cloud experience with robust on-site infrastructure, providing scalable resources that allow local SMEs to access cutting-edge tech solutions without overprovisioning and blowing their budget.

Who it’s best for: Cost-conscious SMEs looking to manage spending while upgrading and scaling their IT.

  1. Microsoft Azure

What it is: A cloud computing service that’s created for building, testing, and deploying applications and services via Microsoft-managed data centres. It integrates Microsoft 365 services you might already be familiar with, like Microsoft Teams and OneDrive, to provide enhanced collaboration amongst your team in one streamlined environment.

Advantages: Azure extends beyond just hosting; it offers AI, machine learning, and analytics to help businesses scale and innovate. If your team comes up with an idea that could revolutionise how you operate, cloud services like Azure enable you to proof-test the concept ASAP, rather than having to spend time seeking out suitable hardware or software solutions to see if it’ll work.

It’s a speedy way to advance your Devonshire SME’s capabilities, not to mention incredibly secure. All of Azure’s features are compliant with a range of industry data protection regulations, which should quell any security concerns when your data is in use, in storage, or in transit between the two.

Who it’s best for: SMEs that already use Microsoft features in their day-to-day operations are looking for tools to boost their creative process without facing a learning curve.

  1. Barracuda

What it is: A provider of cloud-enabled, enterprise-grade security solutions that guard email, networks, data, and applications against cyber threats.

Advantages: Unlike traditional security solutions that require significant on-site hardware and management, Barracuda offers a suite of security features delivered via the cloud. Barracuda safeguards your sensitive data and systems with minimal overhead, enhancing security without the complexity typically associated with this level of protection. As well as ensuring your cyber security defences are comprehensive, this service also guarantees they’re always updated and active, which is particularly beneficial for SMEs without large IT departments.

Who it’s best for: Businesses who want to prioritise cyber security but lack the resources for extensive on-site infrastructure.

  1. Salesforce CRM

What it is: An integrated, remotely hosted solution that brings together all customer relationships across marketing, sales, commerce, service, and IT teams into a single platform.

Advantages: Your business is nothing without its customers, and being able to communicate safely, accurately, and efficiently with them is vital. Salesforce offers a customisable platform that integrates all aspects of customer engagement in the cloud. Unified oversight of your customers allows your team to streamline processes and improve customer satisfaction, leading to better customer retention and potentially higher sales.

Who it’s best for: SMEs that want to bolster their customer communications and need a scalable approach to engagement, particularly those whose sales depend on seasonal shifts.

How Outsourced IT Support Could Ease Your Transition to Cloud Services

Introducing cloud services when you’ve never used them before can be a complex process without technical expertise. This is where outsourced IT services become invaluable to businesses in Devon. A reliable IT support partner can help:

  • Assess Needs and Match Solutions: Evaluate your specific business goals and requirements to recommend the most suitable cloud-based services for you.
  • Make Migration Seamless: Ensure that the transition to cloud platforms is smooth, with minimal disruption to your daily operations.
  • Provide Ongoing Support and Maintenance: Continuously overseeing your entire IT network, including cloud services, to make sure everything stays running optimally and securely.
  • With Training and Updates: Provide staff training, empowering them to utilise these platforms effectively, and also keep you updated on new features and best practices.

Closing Thoughts

Rather than seeing remote solutions as an alternative to your existing IT, look at them as an additional way to support your business and build its resilience in the face of an ever-evolving digital world. Combined with the successful aspects of your current IT and the experience of local IT support, these five cloud services could help elevate Devon SMEs in an increasingly competitive market, helping your team innovate and serve their customers with confidence.

BCNS – We Can Help You Get into the Cloud

At BCNS, we’re passionate about helping businesses across Devon work more efficiently and securely using the power of IT. After 25 years of supporting local SMEs, we’ve learned that every single business is unique; that’s why our solutions are tailored to match each one. To find out more about introducing cloud services to your business, book a free IT consultation with us today.