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Ah, “the cloud”-the feel-good term that, unless you’re involved in IT, does little to describe its spot in cyberspace. Yet whether you’re developing your first startup or working at a global firm, cloud architecture has effectively removed the need for data centers by acting as a source of computational power that sits anywhere online.

If that sounds dangerous, it is. There are several security risks involved, and as the majority of businesses adopt cloud usage to perform their work, many express concerns ranging from implementation to integration with existing architecture.

Despite these concerns, there’s no doubt that the cloud offers multiple benefits for businesses, sector and size notwithstanding.

From Startup to Corporate

With all Transoft products developed in-house at their office in Langley, England, their team of solutions providers is always looking for ways to improve efficiency.

Founded to fill the gap in hyper-local nightlife apps, Lamppost is a new creation of former KPMG Strategist Dan Medlock. Available on iOS and coming soon to Google Play, Lamppost recently graduated from the first round of Cisco System’s RAPTOR Incubator Programme and the app’s quick growth has made cloud reliance a must.

“With the explosion of cheaper enterprise solutions, our team at Lamppost is pretty much entirely cloud-based,” says Medlock. “As a small startup team, we need to collaborate quickly and, often, remotely, yet the whole team must be able to input into every aspect of the business.”

Medlock says Lamppost uses cloud-based storage for all company documents, design elements and working versions of their code; cloud-based email for company communication and shared documents and calendars; and VoIP to chat amongst the team and work remotely, as well as to transfer small documents back and forth.

“In addition to all our marketing and admin files, we host our code over a cloud-server and use version control to manage access,” adds Medlock. “Oftentimes, whilst my developers tinker with the back-end code, I’ll also access it to make UI and design changes.”

Medlock’s foray into app development doesn’t mean he’s new to the cloud; his use of it at KPMG made its use in startups second nature. Nevertheless, he cites several ways corporate use of the cloud has evolved.

“Companies like KPMG have been using remote servers and storage for many many years-before it became known as “the cloud,” says Medlock. “This is because consulting, auditing and other financial roles often require a lot of remote work from clients – so cloud hosting is efficient. Also, given the confidential nature of the data, there is a security bonus to storing files in a protected server.

“Where they are experimenting internally to become more effective is with collaborative working methods. Whereas before a document will be created by a junior, edited by a manager and finalised by a director-all communicating via email-they are developing internal systems to work alongside each other in real time.”

Security Measures

As businesses grow, their reliance on the cloud frequently does as well. Founded in 2009, and self-funded by CEO Mark Mason, Mubaloo is now the UK’s leading B2B and B2C mobile app development company.

Their refusal to outsource means their work developing native and web apps is all done on-site, leading to use of cloud-based services including proto.io for prototyping, planIO for project management and defect tracking and Cacoo for software diagrams and flowchart collaboration.

“We’ve found that cloud architecture helps us to improve the collaboration between our teams from different offices [in London, Bristol, Berlin and New York] and directly with clients,” says Mubaloo Head of Android, Scott Alexander-Bown. “It also allows us to scale growth quickly without worries about server capacity or costs.

“But it also [means we can] be dynamic — if an awesome new prototyping tool is released, we can switch to using it without having to wait for IT infrastructure to be updated. This helps us keep on top of new technology to ensure that the apps we develop are of the highest standards.”

Much of Mubaloo’s work focuses on app security, specifically actual vs. perceived security on behalf of customers. Concerns about the cloud are not unfounded; Alexander-Bown says the same logic about app security applies when choosing a cloud provider, with businesses needing to determine which options will best protect their data.

“Reliability, company administration and help desk support are important,” says Alexander-Bown. “But I feel security is most important. Features like enforcing encryption via https and options for two factor authentication are essential. Another feature is ability to export data encase you want or need to move to a different cloud architecture. Google are particular good at allowing data export, whereas Apple are notoriously the other way.”