“The Cloud” has become a confusing and misunderstood technological development for most small business owners. The term has become overused and spans a number of different services and applications. What’s surprising is despite the ubiquity, availability, reliability and affordability of Cloud solutions, many small business owners are still not making the move. From what we hear, there is still a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding about how cloud computing can fit small business and be cost efficient.
Larger businesses use the Cloud everyday for common services. Software as a Service, or SaaS, is the most common form of software utilization. With the Cloud model, there is not installation on the user end and the user never actually ‘owns’ any software: rather than buying a product, the company is renting a service. The number of cloud-based services in the marketplace is massive – and in many cases, small businesses are already using one of these services and may not even be aware that they fall into the cloud service category.
One of the issues related to cloud based services for small businesses is that the typical small business model for IT support does not best suit a drastic move to newer platforms. Most small businesses still rely on localized, or hard-drive/server-based storage and data programs coupled with a full or part time in-house IT person. This set up does not provide them with sufficient knowledge or resources to make a move into a cloud-based IT environment. While cloud services have become common-place, making the initial switch can be a complex undertaking that requires the help of an outside expert.
So, what are the benefits to small businesses? There are many:
1) Low Maintenance: With Cloud services, there is no internal technology to worry about. Much like renting a car, the maintenance, repairs and breakdown assistance are all taken care of by the rental company. The same dynamics apply to cloud services: when a customer signs up, he should be able to use the software without concerns related to maintenance, updates or security. Additionally, there is no need for storage or other investments that downloadable software programs typically require. All of these issues are taken care of by the service provider.
Also, with Cloud services, small business owners can offset the operational IT work to someone outside of the organization. This puts the onus on the cloud provider for service, upkeep, and costs – and away from the business, which is a where it should be. Cloud computing outsources the technology, reduces the risks and unexpected expenses associated with your in-house IT.
2) Financial Benefits: The financial benefits from The Cloud are by far the best. Returning to our earlier car rental analogy, purchasing your own vehicle requires a large upfront investment. In this model, the amount of usage is not applicable to the cost. If you only use your car two times a week, you pay the same price as someone who uses the car every single day. Plus you don’t get your full investment back even if you sell the car to someone else. Vehicles depreciate as newer; better models come into the marketplace. So as time passes, you own an old car that is outdated, and has accumulated usage and damage that will require repair. A rental car, however, is always a current model, and only incurs a charge when it is needed and used.
This is the same with cloud services. In the vast majority of cases, there is no upfront fee. Most services charge a manageable, predictable, flat rate monthly fee per user for the software. This allows users to scale up or down as their business requirements dictate. This also allows for easy scalability. As companies take on new staff, it’s simply a matter of switching on a new license to extend to a new user, and similarly turn off the switch when you scale down.
Like the car rental analogy, you will always be using to the latest, greatest version. And those upgrade are seamless. As new versions or upgrades to a service are released, they can be instantly made available to all subscribers, allowing access to the best in class tools – keeping your business competitive.
Work from anywhere: Locally installed software that runs only on a computer hampers ones ability to work remotely. In today’s digitally connected world, having access to your services from any location is a must-have option. Today’s small business owners work from hotels and airport lounges as well as the office. Cloud services offer 24-hour access from any internet-connected location.
Collaboration and Communication: Cloud services offer another unique benefit in the way of collaboration enablement and more effective communication. Most if not all Cloud services allow real-time workflows that let multiple users view the same file, document, presentation or spreadsheet at the same time. This aspect of the cloud is one of the most important developments in the last 5 years. Now, companies, via cloud-based tools, can get things accomplished in hours instead of weeks.
Crisis and disaster recovery: Security measures are costly. One great benefit of the cloud is the economies of scale that the service provider can pass on its customers. Any good cloud provider will have invested heavily into security and crisis control – far greater than any small business can ever afford. The nature of their business demands that they store your valuable data securely – so they invest heavily into these aspects of the business.
Is cloud computing secure?
Security seems to be the biggest concern among the uninitiated. This is understandable for small businesses that are not accustomed to storing their data with a third-party service provider. Smaller companies who have traditionally kept their files on their own servers in their own offices often feel that the idea of securing their valuable information with another unknown party is dangerous. The security and crisis management aspects of cloud services are one of the key benefits and most of the service providers worth their salt invest very heavily in security measures. Putting your business-critical information in the hands of a third party requires trust. The same principals apply when vetting any service. Credentials and brand trust is key. There are many smaller software providers sometimes based in countries which may have lax legal requirements should things go wrong. They may charge a great deal less, but have a hard time providing the necessary credentials. So buyer beware. Stick to proven, established companies who may charge more – but warrant that premium. You would rather rent a car from Hertz than Bob’s Truck Shack.
Time to Get Your Business into Cloud Computing Services? GCinfotech is your Cloud Computing Company Servicing NYC, CT and NJ. With our IT Support, it’s a simple, cost-effective and totally scalable IT infrastructure that also provides 24/7 support as part of a monthly program. Using the power of the Web, our cloud computing management services provide the IT hardware, software, and data backup you need to keep your your company running safely and efficiently. Contact GCInfotech cloud professionals today.