Posted on 14 Jul 2020

With all the talk of moving to the cloud, you may be thinking that your business should follow this path.  Migrating your files and emails to the cloud is a perfectly sensible option for most businesses but what about your other software applications that your business relies on to function day-to-day.  Whether that be an accounts or payroll package, a customer database (a CRM system) or an order tracking platform; will these work in the cloud?  Not necessarily and if they do, is it the right move to make?


Can I remove the need for an on-premises server?


Accounts software, CRM systems and other such applications, typically referred to as ‘Line of Business’ applications, will normally run from a server located in your office and whilst moving your email and files to the cloud might make sense, transferring these applications is not such a straight-forward decision and needs careful consideration.  Depending on what the software is, will dictate the options that are available to you. 


Access through your web browser


Many major software vendors are now offering a ‘cloud’ version of their software which has all the same features as the traditional software installed on your computer but is accessed through a web browser on any computer and all the data is stored on their servers.   This service is most commonly available for accounts packages such as Sage and QuickBooks. 


Whilst this service may be available for your software, you will need to consider the on-going costs as you will usually be tied into a subscription. 


In our case, we had used Sage accounts for many years and when it came to deciding about moving to the cloud, we took that opportunity to move to a completely different accounts package, Xero Accounting.  Moving from one accounts package to another may seem daunting, but I’m assured by our finance manager that it was a reasonably straight forward process.


Just because there is a cloud-offering for your software it doesn’t mean you can’t shop around for alternate cloud-based offerings that may be superior in terms of functionality, usability and let’s face it, cost.


Don’t want to change your software?


If moving to a cloud-based system isn’t an option for your software package or isn’t a route you wish to take, you’ve got two options:

  • keep running your existing software using your server in your office or,
  • replace your office server with a virtual server on the cloud.


Don’t worry, I’m not going to get too technical with the virtual server option – basically, you take all the software running on your office server and move it to a server in one of Microsoft’s data centres.  Your software stays the same it just lives on a cloud server rather than the server in your office and you can still access it in through your PC or laptop in the office.


With this solution, you are charged a monthly fee by Microsoft based on how much storage you use and how powerful your virtual server is.  This option should be up for consideration, but costs can quickly escalate and should be weighed carefully against the benefits of removing the need for your office server.


The Cloud isn’t everything


With all the talk of moving to the cloud, you may think that it’s the direction you should be going in.  For emails and files, it certainly is the way forward to allow better remote working but if your line of business software is primarily accessed from within your main office, there is nothing wrong with keeping a server in the office simply to run that software. 


Yes, you may need to replace an old server but if it’s only used for one piece of software, chances are it doesn’t need to be as powerful as the one it replaces.  With your email and files on the cloud, and business software in the office, the two systems can happily co-exist in a hybrid setup.


Making the decision


The choice of direction can be confusing, and I hope I’ve set out some options here.  Don’t worry if you’re confused about the best path to take, Impact Computing have the expertise to guide you through the process.  We know that there isn’t a one size fits all approach to this and will present you with the pros and cons for each option along with our recommendations.


Our engineers have years of experience with companies across many different sectors and we’ve encountered most line of business applications before.  If you need advice on the future of your business applications, please call us on 01772 684 282.