More companies and organisations than ever are moving to the cloud, lured by lower costs, the ease of scalability, increased security and the flexibility to work just about anywhere. At a time when remote working is rapidly on the rise, having cloud-based apps and programs has become essential, as it allows staff to work and collaborate from wherever they happen to be. 

If you are considering migrating your IT services to the cloud and ditching part of all of your network for remote servers based in the datacentre of a cloud provider like Microsoft's Azure, this is what you need to know. 

Why Move to the Cloud?

Cloud-based services are those offered via the internet, so all you need is a reliable broadband connection to access and use them. The term "cloud computing" refers to remote services from computing firms. They typically include processing, storage and security, giving clients the ability to rent part of physical server infrastructure instead of running their own and using apps and programs on a pay-per-go basis instead of purchasing them outright. 

All of this takes place in banks, or clouds of servers in distant datacentres — rather than somewhere up in the stratosphere. 

So what are the real advantages of cloud computing? One of its key benefits is the flexibility the cloud provides companies of all sizes with, in terms of off-site staff accessing services and working together and the ability to quickly scale up with additional processing power and storage — without high costs or having to wait for long periods while extra hardware is sourced and added to an in-house network. 

Another is the fact that, with cloud computing, companies don't need to concern themselves with IT the way they do if they have an on-premises network. They can get on with their operations and let the cloud computing firm run everything for them — with the latest in hardware and software technology and ongoing updates and security fixes to ensure everything is going smoothly and is safe from attack. The amount of resources required to do this, both from a financial and staff standpoint, is usually prohibitive for individual firms. 

Moving Data to the Cloud

So how to move data to cloud storage, safely and securely? Depending on which cloud computing service you're thinking about using, and how much data you have on your current system, there will likely be a number of options you can choose from. You may be able to simply do an online transfer if you have a high-capacity broadband connection so that your data is swiftly transferred to remote servers.

If your company has terabytes or petabytes of data, you may want to consider something like a physical data box with a large storage capacity that you can transfer your data to and then provide it to the cloud service to place on their servers. Each service will have its own recommendations for moving data to the cloud, including for big-data scenarios, and different types of physical devices you can use. 

Once your data is in the cloud, stored securely, protected from cybercriminals and backed up in case of disaster, companies no longer have to worry about on-site hard drives dying and taking all that valuable data with them or employee laptops going missing or being stolen, along with all the sensitive information on them.

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