The new option of having your company’s servers “in the cloud” could prove a lifesaver to many small business owners. When the company that managed the web-based email servers at Syreeta Saunders-Keys’ eight-year-old real estate firm Keys2Day Real Estate kept breaking down, she realized that she needed a centralized system where she and her six employees could access email, store documents, and monitor the tasks from anywhere and at anytime. Saunders-Keys was using four different vendors to host file sharing, email archiving, calendars, web maintenance, and other IT necessities; all of which cost her $750 per month. Yet, her team could only access their email via web-mail and the vendor wasn’t syncing their email and calendars to all of their devices.
More and more the small business owner found herself bottled up in IT woes instead of focusing her attention on the real estate industry. The situation became drastic when she was unable to access her email archives despite having paid an additional $400 to ensure that the service was done. As a real estate agent this was problematic because she is required by law to keep certain contacts, conversations, and documents for 10 years after a deal closes.
“My job is to be out generating and bringing business in and not to be dealing with the minutia on the back end,” says Saunders-Keys.
In her search to rectify the situation and find a new provider, she realized that many companies didn’t cater to small businesses. “They want you to have a certain amount of employees and even if you don’t they want you to pay the same amount that big companies would pay,” says Saunders-Keys, who brought in $7.1 million in sales in 2010. Finally, she called Tarzana, California-based InfoStreet and found relief with their product Streetsmart, a cloud-based IT platform.
Keyon Thomas, a marketing director at InfoStreet and Saunders-Keys customer representative, assessed what each of her vendors was doing, migrated their file sharing services over to InfoStreet, and created them a complete cloud storage environment that would alleviate as much of the IT stress as possible.
“Being real estate agents–showing houses, working from home, and the office–it was important that all of their [systems were] exactly the same, without creating this huge IT infrastructure in their office to create VPNs and things like that,” says Thomas. “Lastly we coordinated with their website provider, who is still running their website to make sure we didn’t drop the ball with any of their domain name endings that connect the web site so that they didn’t have any down time.”