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Cloud Computing: Is it right for you?

February 20, 2015

Most businesses are already familiar with one aspect of cloud computing: software delivered over the Internet. Think of it as renting vs. buying your software.

Most businesses are already familiar with one aspect of cloud computing: software delivered over the Internet. Think of it as renting vs. buying your software.

Many small businesses simply use the “cloud” to host productivity applications, such as e-mail, document creation and sharing, and calendars, relieving them of the time and expense needed to run and maintain the software on their own computers.

According to analyst firm SMB Group, use of cloud applications among small and medium-sized businesses is poised to grow from 33 percent to 44 percent in 2014. And many small business CEOs are anxious to learn more.

Is cloud computing right for you?

The surge in adoption of cloud computing by small businesses is outpacing that of larger enterprises. This isn’t surprising, considering that having access to sophisticated software and enterprise-level applications without the expense of buying and maintaining them gives the smaller, smarter players an opportunity to level the playing field with their bigger competitors.

The benefits of leveraging this type of computing environment are numerous, beginning with cost savings. The primary savings come from the lack of capital expenditure to buy a program or equipment. Servers, for instance, run between $2,000 and $6,000, and companies might need to add multiple machines as demands on their IT system grow. This capital can now be funneled to other vital projects.

Additional benefits include:

  • Lower administrative costs. IT solutions can be deployed extremely quickly and managed, maintained and upgraded remotely by your service provider – without the need for an in-house IT staff. Plus, as cloud storage has taken hold, prices have been dropping regularly.
  • Improved utilization of resources. Moving more and more applications, infrastructure, and even support into the cloud can free up precious time, effort and budgets to concentrate on the real job of leveraging technology to improve the mission of the company. It really comes down to making better use of your time – focusing on your business and allowing cloud providers to manage the resources to get you to where you need to go.
  • Pay for what you use. Scalability and flexibility are valuable advantages offered by cloud computing, allowing customers to react quickly to changing IT needs, adding or subtracting capacity and users as and when required and responding to real rather than projected requirements. And, because cloud computing follows a utility model in which service costs are based on actual consumption, you only pay for what you use.
  • Quick and easy implementation. Without the need to purchase hardware, software licenses or implementation services, a company can get its cloud computing arrangement launched very quickly.
  • Quality of service. Typically, vendors offer 24/7 customer support and an immediate response to emergency situations. Be sure to ask about guaranteed service levels, ensuring your applications and/or services are always online and accessible.
  • Access from anywhere and better collaboration. Access your applications and data securely from any location via an Internet connection. It’s easier to collaborate, too. With some applications, multiple users can work together on the same project, share calendars and contacts, etc.
  • Better data security. According to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, “an estimated 800,000 laptops are lost or stolen every year in airports alone.” If you store all of your data on a laptop or mobile device, this information can be easily stolen and accessed on your computer device. However, if you use cloud computing instead, your laptop is merely a device through which you access and work on your applications. The data itself will not be stolen with the laptop.
  • Disaster recovery/backup. Recent research has indicated that nearly 90 percent of businesses do not have adequate disaster recovery or business continuity plans, leaving them vulnerable to any disruptions that might occur. Cloud computing enables you to store important files and information in the event your business is hit by a disaster – whether manmade, like a terrorist attack, or natural, like a storm that takes out your electricity. Files stored in the cloud ensure that there’s always a copy available 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

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