Five benefits of cloud document storage for remote working

How the cloud has kept us connected to vital information in the face of lockdown

Cloud illustrations on a blue background with a ladder

The debate between on-premise infrastructure and the cloud is an ongoing one, and there are benefits and costs related to an organisation employing either (not to mention any combination of the two) depending on their specific circumstances and needs.

But thanks to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent move to mass remote working for both IT teams and the wider workforce, the cloud has certainly been given a chance to shine (a Snow Software survey found that 82% of IT leaders increased their cloud usage in response to COVID-19). This goes particularly for cloud document management solutions, which have been key in enabling workers to carry on with relatively little disruption following the sudden shift to working from home. But what exactly are the benefits?

Remote access

When it comes to working from home, easy remote access is essential, and it’s not hard to see how the cloud – which by its very nature is designed to be accessed from any device with an internet connection, anywhere in the world – is a huge boon. Organisations that were already operating a cloud document storage solution will have found it much easier to pivot to a working from home model when lockdown suddenly hit, as vital files and information remained easily accessible.

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While on-premise storage can be accessed remotely, the architecture that allows this can be complicated, cumbersome and inflexible, requiring a series of security features including passwords, firewalls and VPN barriers to be installed to keep data safe. All of this can impede remote workers’ ability to access the information they need quickly and easily, which can have a serious knock-on effect on business operations.

Security

Making use of a cloud document management solution shifts the responsibility for many functions from IT teams to providers – including the ever-vital issue of security. Cloud services are designed for remote access, and providers have invested an increasing amount into making that access safe and secure as their user bases have ballooned.

When it comes to on-premises storage, in-house IT teams have to take charge of securing documents from theft or unauthorised access. The systems employed to allow remote access can increase the risk of security and communication failures. And when something goes wrong, the onus is on internal IT teams to deal with the consequences.

Reliability

In a time when remote working was far less common than it is today, on-premise storage systems did not need to be able to deal with a large number of people accessing documents remotely at the same time. And on the occasional days when an employee might be working from home, slower or spottier access might have been considered a reasonable cost for the ability to focus on work free from the distractions of the office.

But with a much higher proportion of workers logging in from home, on-premise infrastructure will be under increased pressure – and poor performance on the odd occasion can become intolerable on a day-to-day basis. The benefits of lower latency are also lost when the workforce is not based in the office. Public cloud is, by its very nature, better suited to handling remote access, making it a more reliable storage solution for this new working-from-home paradigm.

Systems management

One of the benefits of on-premise storage is that, in normal circumstances, it gives IT teams immediate access and oversight of the systems. But with the sudden barriers to commuting into the office, access to data centres is no longer a given.

Using a cloud document management solution shifts the responsibility of maintenance from IT teams to providers. That way, businesses can relax, knowing that files are in safe hands – backed up and accessible to staff – and IT teams can focus on other duties.

Flexibility and scalability

With access to on-premises systems limited, IT teams’ ability to respond to changes will be likewise impaired. In periods of disruption, flexibility is vital, and organisations that deal with large amounts of data or large files in particular may run into difficulties if they can’t react effectively.

Cloud storage can be scaled in either direction instantly, with no need to have any employees on site. Organisations can pay for what they need, and react to sudden changes without putting added pressure on the IT teams.

While there are advantages to operating on-premises storage infrastructure, the cloud’s versatility and responsiveness has been a vital tool in maintaining workers’ access to vital documents. Without these services, the impact on business operations would have been a whole lot worse.

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