Moving Primary Business Applications to the Cloud (Podcast)


On this episode of Tech Tuesday, John Maher talks with Roland Carter about moving primary business applications to the cloud. They discuss the pros and cons of moving business applications to the cloud, and they provide an overview of the process.

Portsmouth Computer Group · Moving Primary Business Applications to the Cloud

John Maher: Welcome to Tech Tuesday brought to you by PCG, a managed services and security provider in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I’m John Maher and with me today from PCG is Roland Carter. Welcome Roland.

Roland Carter: Hi John. Thanks for having me.

What Is a Primary Business Application?

John: So Roland, today we’re talking about moving your primary business applications to the cloud. First of all, what is it that you mean by a primary business application?

Roland: Primary business application would be defined as anything that really helps move your business forward or contains information that’s either proprietary to your business, or just helps with the general day-to-day to keep everything functional. So, we can think of this for probably some smaller companies. They might think of their QuickBooks as their primary business application, because of how they’re tracking their services and their payments.

For larger companies, look at hospitals, for example. Their primary business application is going to be a medical record system. For the in-between businesses, maybe something like a inventory tracking system mixed with sales integration. So, what’s coming in, what’s going out?

How Can Business Applications Run in the Cloud?

John: So obviously, a lot of companies are moving to the cloud these days. They used to have their primary business application installed on a server in house, and now they want to move it up to the cloud. What’s the process for making my business application run in a cloud-based environment?

Roland: There could be several ways to make this happen. Probably the best way to go about this is to start talking with your IT provider. They’ll talk with the vendor that is producing these applications. Does this work in a cloud-based environment? What scenarios should I be expecting as I’m moving this? Your IT provider will use their engineering talent to answer these questions.

From there, we move on-premise servers into a cloud-based environment, but the server itself works the same besides the fact that it’s not sitting in your closet anymore. It’s sitting in a big data warehouse somewhere out West or on the East coast.

Benefits of Moving Business Applications to the Cloud

John: Right, so why is this beneficial to my business, moving my primary business application to the cloud?

Roland: Some of the bigger benefits are that you can have your employees basically anywhere and they can still access this information. We got pretty used to the fact that we had our employees in-house and they could access those business applications only while they were there. Over time, we got better technology. We had VPN access where we could have remote employees come into the system, but it wasn’t always designed in a way that was the best way to access that application.

So as we move further down the technology train, we’re starting to see that, we can just put these servers somewhere else, and regardless of you having a physical location, or even if the power’s on, if you have someone that’s down in Georgia and your primary applications used to be up in New Hampshire, you no longer have to worry about if Internet’s there or if there’s a storm. You’re able to access what you need.

What Applications Can Run in the Cloud?

John: Can any application run in a cloud-based server environment? If I had my application running on a server that’s in my closet in my office, is it automatic that I can just move that up to a server in the cloud and it works?

Roland: I think this is one of the bigger things that we talk about in the MSP world right now, when it comes to cloud-based servers. We’re trying to get a good grasp on which applications can move, which ones we should be moving, and which ones are still, maybe in the iffy category.

Not all vendors have gotten on the train, they’re not quite ready to make that jump. We’re trying to figure out, based on the processing power, the internet bandwidth, how many people are accessing it, is it the right fit for your environment?

And we’re seeing some success with some of those applications. Yet we’re also seeing where an application was a little bit more on the iffy side. We’re doing some proper business trials to make sure that as we’re going down this path, we’re doing all the right tests, making sure all the right things work, and then we’re able to revert if it’s not the right path for you, and put things back to the way they were and come up with a new plan.

Technical Issues of Moving to the Cloud

John: Are some of the issues with running an application in a cloud-based environment just access issues, where the person who’s accessing that software now must do it through a VPN or some sort of other specialized software that’s meant to access that program on the cloud server? What are some of the other technical issues involved in running things on the cloud?

Roland: Some of it is the access base, where are you trying to access it from? We’re seeing some instances, such as you might be in an airport terminal. It’s probably not the best place for you to try and access your business applications for several reasons, but also the Internet’s just going to be slow for you.

Those are some of the challenges with the speed of things, but also the processing power. We do have a lot of ability to fluctuate how much power to give a server. We’re talking about the amount of memory, the processor performance, how much hard drive space something needs, and sometimes even where the server is located within the US can come into play with that.

We do take a dive in once we are starting to go down this path and making sure that we’re seeing that the processor performance is ramping up pretty high or that people are starting to say that they’re having access issues, or it’s being really slow. We can turn those dials up a little bit and fine tune to the right space where everyone’s happy with how they’re able to interact with the system, but also have it turned down low enough where you’re not going to be overpaying for performance that you’re given. There’s a lot of things that we can do to make the right choices.

Cloud Vs. Online Versions of Software

John: What’s the difference between what you’re talking about, which is putting your primary business application on a server in the cloud and a case where the primary business application has an online version of their program that people can access through, say, a web browser.

Roland: We see this with applications like Sage and QuickBooks. Some of the bigger things to note with those, such as QuickBooks, it has a much different interface when you’re using what we’ll call the pre-made version of their cloud-based software. They’re making it completely different, so that can be cloud-based.

You’re having to change how you’re used to working in that application to make sure that everything is working properly, but sometimes you’re also not getting the proper functionality that you need. You really need the full blown version of QuickBooks in order to perform your job functions, which usually means you’re trying to move into a cloud-based server or keeping it on premise if that’s what’s needed for how many people are accessing it or what you’re able to do.

John: All right. So that’s just a conversation that you need to have where you must determine what’s right for your company and what your needs are. And then if they do have a browser-based version of the software, like QuickBooks online, you could try it, see if it works for you, and if it works for you, maybe that’s the best way to go. But if you need that extra functionality, maybe doing it, like you said, in  the cloud-based server environment, is the best way to go. It just depends on what your needs are.

Roland: Absolutely. A lot of what we do is needs based. If someone needs something we try to have that conversation in the proper way and make sure everyone is getting access to what they need. QuickBooks is unique in that sometimes because people have been using QuickBooks for a very long time, and if they’ve been using the original version, the server-based version, seeing the web browser-based version is a shock. Getting the right training, having them do proper demos with a vendor and talking to the right people during a demo. You might find everything is there, it’s just shifted around a little bit.

How to Determine Which Application Is Right for Your Business?

John: How can I determine if this is right for me? Is it just a matter of testing it and seeing if it works for and then you can always revert back or how do you determine that?

Roland: Sometimes it depends on how quickly you need to move on something. We do try to prioritize, but also make sure we’re having the right conversation. In order to really determine this, sometimes you do have to go into that testing method where you’re moving it. You’re not putting everyone into a full working database, but you’re having people hand selected to test it out and determine if there are still issues that need to be worked out.

Sometimes just having the right conversations. I’ll go back to talking with the vendors. The vendor conversations are invaluable because we’re getting information on how the system was designed to work. We can bring that back to the client and have them make better business decisions based on those conversations.

Contact PCG to Talk About Your Needs

John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Roland. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Roland: Thank you for having me.

John: And for more information, you can visit the PCG website at or call 603 431 4121.