Over the past half century, the American office has evolved to the extent that it would be almost recognizable to past generations. From dense rows of desks a la “Mad Men” to pods of gray upholstered cubicles to the “hot-desking” open office plans made famous by startups and tech companies, office design has always changed to meet the business needs of the time. In the post-COVID era, however, the office altogether may become, if not extinct, then at least endangered.
The remote work arrangements brought about necessity this year have demonstrated to many businesses that physical office space is no longer crucial to their success. Firms are increasingly pursuing all or mostly work-from-home strategies, and either reducing or eliminating their commercial office space commitments. One obstacle they often fail to consider, however, is their IT infrastructure.
In our world of cloud everything, it often surprises business leaders to learn that their mission-critical IT infrastructure is still tied to their physical real estate. But while it is true that many of the tools employees use on a day-to-day basis — e.g., ERP, Microsoft Office/Google Docs, project management apps — are increasingly cloud-based, many companies still have software running on servers they own and maintain themselves (or a third party maintains for them). It is often possible to procure software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings to replace some of the functions these programs perform, liberating your business from their physical real estate demands. But some businesses will have specialty or custom software that cannot be replaced with any off-the-rack solution, so to speak.
Thankfully, with the right know-how, most software of this type can be migrated relatively quickly to a public cloud provider such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. By using a public cloud provider, customers, instead of owning and maintaining the hardware themselves customers, merely rent computing power. Now some leaders may be skeptical of what they perceive as handing over their data and code to a third party. But this skepticism is unwarranted. As a public cloud user, your business maintains total control over all the code and data. The only difference is where that code and data is stored. Moreover, reputable cloud providers offer data privacy and security features that almost always exceeds what a single firm can do in-house.
There are other benefits of migrating to the cloud, too. Cloud providers typically offer much higher levels of uptime and availability than on-premises services with strong backup and disaster recovery features. Using a public cloud for your IT infrastructure can also be more cost-effective than an on-premises server. Once you factor in the cost of expenditures like business-class internet and electricity to power and cool on-premises hardware, the cost benefits start to tip strongly in the direction cloud.
The case is further strengthened when you consider the cost of lower uptime and availability. On-premises servers are always going to be subject to risks like utility outages and ISP troubles. The costs of eliminating those risks, such as having multiple internet connections or a back-up generator, quickly balloons the cost of on-premises far beyond that of using a public cloud, where economies of scale and robust connections to public utilities help these providers overcome the challenges faced by small and medium-sized businesses.
But perhaps the biggest benefit of using a public cloud is the scalability. In IT, a typical lifecycle — the time between major hardware purchases — is three years. That means IT leaders are having to plan and purchase right now for the needs of a growing company several years from now. There is always the danger of buying too little and not having the capacity to handle the business’s future needs. On the other hand, buying too much can be a major waste of resources. With the cloud, by comparison, you can always have exactly as much storage and computer power as you need. Getting more space is as easy as the click of a mouse.
The other category of IT infrastructure that is often tethered to physical real estate that has not been brought up yet is virtual private networks, or VPNs. Businesses of all sizes uses these encrypted tunnels to enable secure remote access to software and tools from any location. VPNs are an absolute must in the era of remote work, where employees may be accessing company data from unsecured home networks or café WiFi. Thankfully, VPNs need no more be entwined with your company’s physical real estate than its ERP software. Numerous providers offer VPN solutions that integrate seamlessly with the top public cloud providers. Note however that the migration itself can be a little tricky from a technical perspective; this kind of project tends to benefit from the assistance of an IT professional with cloud technical savvy.
BPM Managed IT Services: Home Is Where the Office Is
The professionals in our Managed IT Services group have extensive experience assisting clients seamlessly migrate their legacy and other on-premises software to secure, cost-effective public cloud solutions. Led by veterans leaders of enterprise IT organizations, our Managed IT Services team works with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to understand clients’ needs and deliver solutions and migration plans that meet their requirements and budget, while minimizing business disruption. To learn more about how BPM can make your remote workforce dreams a reality, contact Michael Sellai, BPM Partner of Managed IT Services, today.