Microsoft Cloud For Beginners: What You Need To Know

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Cloud computing has exploded in recent years and has become a valuable component of many businesses. Despite how commonly the term comes up and how often people are using cloud computing in their personal lives (email, Netflix, social networks, and video calls all involve cloud computing), many aren’t sure how to get started using cloud services for their business. The following will explore some of the essential information you need if you’re looking into cloud services. Special attention will be paid to those looking to use Microsoft cloud computing.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing involves using digital resources that are accessed via the internet. These resources can include applications, servers, data storage, developmental tools, software, networking, and other computational tools. This means that instead of keeping files and other needed computational tools on a physical hard drive, desktop or laptop computer, tablet, or other local storage devices, you’re keeping these files on a remote database that you access using the internet when you need it. The name cloud comes from the feeling people have when using these technologies that they are storing things in a virtual ether like their files are saved up in the clouds instead of in their office.  

Some of the major reasons people turn to cloud computing are the saving of space (no longer do they need physical file storage), easy access that is not dependent on location (anyone with internet access and security access to things stored in the cloud can access them whether or not they’re in the office), reduces utilities (the costs associated with running servers and other digital tools can be quite high), security (no longer will everything be destroyed in a fire or flood or another physical disaster), and environmental reasoning (cloud computing greatly reduces the need for paper).

Understand Whether Your Cloud Is Public, Private, Or Hybrid

One of the first things you’re going to want to figure out if you’re just beginning to work with Microsoft Cloud is whether you need or have a public cloud, a private cloud, or a hybrid cloud. This will determine the level of privacy your cloud entails and what responsibility (if any) falls on you or your staff to manage the cloud.

Public clouds are those that belong to and are operated by a third-party cloud service provider (basically, not owned by your company). A public cloud tends to be the least expensive option for businesses and tends to be the fastest to set up. Further, because no aspect of the public cloud is in-house, you don’t require staff to manage the cloud. The cloud service provider will handle all of that.

Private clouds are those that still provide computing services via the internet but that work using a private internal network that only select users can access. This can sometimes be called an internal or corporate cloud and has a lot of the standard benefits of a public cloud but also offers additional control and customization. Typically private clouds also offer higher levels of security and privacy via additional firewalls and internal hosting. A company’s information technology department will, therefore, be responsible for the cost and management of the cloud, meaning some staff with an understanding of operating a cloud are needed for this option.

Hybrid clouds are, as you might expect, a combination of both public and private clouds. There will be some infrastructure managed by your cloud service provider. Cloud computing is growing rapidly in all three categories, but hybrid clouds, in particular, are expected to continue to be extremely popular. Predictors for the turn to hybrid computing emphasize the personalization options with hybrid as one of the main factors.

Getting Started

Getting started with Microsoft cloud computing services might seem overwhelming at first because there are so many options. Even if you’re going the public cloud route, you can seek out guidance and support for the incorporation process. If, for example, you’ve decided to go with Dynamic 365, you can find a Dynamics 365 Partner – this is someone (or a team of someones) who can help you evaluate all the different options available with a cloud service and figure out which ones you’ll need today as well as in the future. They can trim or tailor solutions that already exist to ensure your business is getting exactly what it needs to utilize cloud computing and can also assist in the adoption process.

Position-Focused Training

More than likely, some training will be required for some of your staff. It is usually ideal to design training specific to each person’s job rather than sending them off to a “here’s everything you need to know about cloud computing” information session. When people see the practical elements of the cloud and how it applies to their work, and how it makes their daily lives simpler, it’ll be easier to remember the different services and functions they’ll need to use.

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Be Strict About Security

When it comes to working with the cloud, many people wonder about security options. After all, they don’t want to be risking valuable business data, customer data, or employee data. Whichever cloud services you choose to employ will involve security measures. It is crucial that your staff is educated about these measures and understands how to work within them. Almost always, you’re going to want to set up user permissions. Not everyone within your company needs access to all the data you own. Be strict about who can see what. Furthermore, you’ll want to be sure that proper passwords are used. Your staff should be taught about what makes a strong password. You can also set up processes whereby everyone must change their password every week, month, or few months.

The above tips and information should help you get your bearings when it comes to including Microsoft cloud services with your business. Ensuring that the cloud services you use are tailored to your needs and are secure are the first two big steps. As your business grows and your needs change, cloud services can scale to include new features or lose outdated features. This means that you should be conducting regular audits of your cloud service usage and looking for areas where you can improve your usage or include more or fewer services to ensure your needs are met.

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