Business owners who are not taking full advantage of cloud computing (commonly referred to as just “the cloud”) may well be missing out on a great opportunity to improve their business operations and reduce costs, while, increasing accessibility and reliability to company data. Cloud computing has changed the landscape of business dramatically in the past 3-5 years. In order to benefit from the technological advances that the cloud brings, it is important for business owners to first understand what they are dealing with, what the challenges are, and how some of these new technologies can improve the functionality of their business.
What is Cloud Computing?
To better understand this concept, take a look at the internet. How the internet is used has changed greatly over the years -- in terms of business, any programs or services that are use via an internet connection are probably delivered ot the user via a cloud service.
Cloud computing allows one to utilize software and services without having to run the physical servers or software in-house. These outside vendors run the software and servers, making it possible for you to pay attention to what is most important; running your business. Examples of cloud computing services that are commonly used by businesses today include; MS Office365 email, Xero, Google Apps, Hubspot, ServiceNow, Amazon Web Services, LinkedIn, Cisco WebEx, Google Apps, Apple iCloud, Salesforce, Service Now, Skype, Trello, DropBox, Evernote, Google Drive, etc.
These are all examples of typical Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. Some business also run all their servers and even desktops in the cloud, accessing them from anywhere, at anytime.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
As more and more businesses are relying on cloud computing services, you might wonder how they can benefit your business. Some of the benefits include long term reduction of software and computer costs, improved data security (secure off site backup and storage), less downtime, remote accessibility, and increased functionality and customer service. As cloud computing continues to evolve and offer additional products and services, many businesses that are currently on the fence will make the decision to venture to “the cloud”.
Lets look at one possible example/benefit to your business, Virtual PC's: Imagine working in your office on your current laptop or PC, but where the actual operating system is a virtual PC in the cloud. For a start, your internet access speed while working on this virtual PC is blistering fast and the applications run at really high speed, no longer limited by your old physical office laptop or desktop. Then, you are halfway through a task, and need to head home. That’s fine – go home – connect from home, and continue where you left off. You don’t even need to take your laptop with you. All you need is a computer with internet access, and your security credentials, and you can work from anywhere.
Here is another example: Your in-house physical server is old, only just coping, and needs replacing. Buying a new server every 3-5 years involves predicting the size and storage you will need in the future. But how do you know how much capacity you will need? One option is to buy a new physical server that over-capacity – wasting capital now, for the possible demand later. However, buying a server in the cloud lets you buy just what you need now, and expand at any time, simply, and without any physical upgrades needed. Just pay for what you need now, knowing that the server(s) can scale up massively, whenever you need that additional capacity.
The best part? The price of cloud computing is already competitive, and reducing all the time.
Managed IT Services Can Make the Transition to Cloud Computing easier
Despite the growing popularity of cloud computing and the increased number of companies utilizing these services, not all business owners nor customers are completely convinced this is the way to go. There are also some pitfalls to be wary of. However, there is little doubt that this area of technology will continue to develop and likely become mainstream within a few years. With that in mind, business owners who question this technology can benefit greatly by consulting with managed service providers to help guide them through the transition. Managed services providers are up-to-date with all new technology and can offer services that include cloud computing to improve the way your business runs.
Ultimately, the cloud could present you with a number of new options and capabilities for your business. Options such as; reducing the traditional IT capital costs, reducing in-house IT costs, enabling remote and mobile access to information, and eliminating downtime.
Working with a managed cloud services provider can assist you to eliminate much of the confusion around cloud computing, and learn if cloud computing is right for your business.