IRM critically examined its business support software and infrastructure in 2014, and made the decision to move to cloud-based services for a range of needs. In this IRMatters article, CEO Martin Spry discusses the positive impact the move has had on the business and provides some tips for companies considering making the move.
To the cloud!
One of IRM’s key areas of focus is the provision of cloud computing services for its clients. All our client websites are hosted by IRM “in the cloud”, along with our email servers and the content management system that supports the websites.
Why would we not extend that idea and use cloud computing to support our own in-house, day-to-day activities?
The move to cloud computing for a range of services gathered pace in IRM in 2014, as we critically examined the old ways of doing things and found opportunities in the cloud. We implemented the Xero accounting system, Dropbox for Business for file sharing, and Gmail for Business for emails. All these choices replaced equivalent systems that had previously run on our dedicated office servers. Then we reviewed the software we were using for our Customer Relationship Management, and settled on SugarCRM for management of client information, tasks and workflows.
Cloud computing has liberated us from the physical office. We no longer need access to our Microsoft Small Business Server – in fact we’ve turned it off. This reduced (or almost eliminated) the need for the IT people who supported it. Our desktop platform now relates directly to the cloud for all our shared services. With a dedicated 10Mbps link to our office, when we are there, it’s as fast as it was with a local server, and provides a far higher level of redundancy than what we had previously.
When we’re anywhere else, we still have all the same capabilities we have in the office. And our mobile phones provide some level of access as well. Traveling interstate, working from home, meeting with clients in their office or in a coffee shop – we’re always in the office.
We thought a lot about security. With our in-house server, there was physical security issues we had to manage. In the cloud, someone else looks after that. We didn’t check that they do it properly, relying instead on the big brands and their thousands of existing customers. Access security – well, we have our suite of user names and passwords, much as before, and all these systems use secure browsing.
It’s not just the cost reduction and convenience benefit. No more hardware upgrades, hardware outages, windows server updates, software updates. We just get on with the business.Using cloud computing lets us focus on our business while our suppliers focus on theirs, so they continually improve our business and keep us ahead of the curve, without requiring us to be infrastructure experts.