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As technology advances, it’s no surprise that new ways of doing business transpire. Although adjusting to new technologies can be challenging, small businesses that incorporate the latest trends and technologies in IT have a better chance of gaining an advantage over their competitors. For example, once considered an emerging, next-generation technology, cloud computing has become a dominant force in the business world. Businesses of all sizes use cloud computing to store data, share data, manage relationships with customers, access software applications, upload files, etc.
This Balboa Capital blog article provides a detailed overview of this technology and features five benefits of cloud computing for your small business.
What is cloud computing?
You have likely heard of cloud computing. Moreover, you probably used it today without even thinking about it. Logging into the Internet to check your email, using business-related software, interacting with a chatbot, and streaming your favorite movies, shows, and music are cloud-based services people use daily.
Small businesses of all sizes and in countless industries use cloud-based computing for a good reason. This technology allows you to run multiple computer applications over the Internet without installing or maintaining software on your business hardware. Instead, you can run operations and access business files anytime with an Internet connection and browser, whether on a desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device. The following are five ways cloud computing can benefit your small business.
1. Increased capabilities.
When using traditional in-house software and servers, your capabilities are limited to what your IT department can manage and the physical limitations of your business space. In addition, buying new hardware and managing software updates can be time-consuming and won’t allow you to utilize your IT resources effectively.
Cloud computing allows you to run many applications over the Internet, from word processing to email communications, depending on your business’s needs. For example, suppose your business relies on the most up-to-date sales, accounting, or customer service information. In that case, the cloud allows you to access it in real-time from any location. Cloud computing also provides extensive data storage capacity online, eliminating the need to acquire new hardware and servers.
The capabilities offered by cloud-based software are available on several unique platforms. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model affords your business the most convenience and flexibility. However, other approaches can be used.
Software as a Service (SaaS): The vendor manages the SaaS cloud computing model entirely. The SaaS provider handles everything related to your cloud software, from business applications and upgrades to servers and data storage.
Platform as a Service (PaaS): With PaaS cloud computing, you can create, customize and manage applications for your small business with the help of preexisting tools and frameworks. Your PaaS vendor will handle storage, networking, etc.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This cloud setup focuses exclusively on virtual data storage. The IaaS cloud vendor provides cloud-based servers, network, and storage equipment, and you add the necessary business software and related application.
2. Data security.
Security of necessary data is a concern for any small business owner; however, cloud-based software can help minimize security risks by storing data safely on secure could-based servers instead of your server room. In addition, since servers are not located onsite, unexpected power outages and service interruptions will not impact your business data’s security.
However, if files are misplaced or compromised, most cloud providers provide disaster recovery and backup to ensure your business continues to run as efficiently as possible.
As your business grows, your software and programming requirements may change. Therefore, it is essential that your computing infrastructure seamlessly accommodates your business needs. As you know, repairing and upgrading hardware and updating software require tremendous support from your internal IT staff. However, cloud computing does not require a significant investment in computer hardware, as your software and data will be hosted on remote servers.
Next, cloud computing simplifies software implementation and maintenance with no installation, setup, or daily upkeep. Resources must be allocated efficiently if your business is experiencing a spike in growth or a slow sales period. With cloud computing, your business can increase or decrease capacities anytime without investing in new software, servers, or additional IT personnel and training. Using cloud-based software frees your time to focus on everyday tasks and responsibilities.
4. Anytime, anywhere access.
Nowadays, business is conducted everywhere. Cloud computing enables you to run your business away from the office or store location, whether you are on your laptop, computer, or mobile device. Since data and files are consolidated into one place online, users can collaborate on business projects from any location. Your business applications can be accessed online the same way you would access a website or social media site.
With traditional software, updates in applications must be installed one computer system at a time. This can create interruptions in daily business activities. With one change to an application “in the cloud,” you and your employees will automatically access the most up-to-date version in real-time.
5. Cost reduction.
Cloud computing provides your small business with a low-cost way to add new tools and increase storage capacity without investing in expensive computer hardware and servers. In addition, when you reduce the number of computer systems and the size of your server room, electricity consumption decreases dramatically. This can amount to significant savings each year for your business, depending on its size.
Traditional software system administration and maintenance are costly and require tremendous IT support. There is no need to spend countless hours and weekends on computer and software upgrades with cloud computing. The cloud provider takes care of the upkeep for you.
Cloud software can be acquired through a monthly or annual subscription, depending on your needs, and financing might be an option worth considering. Other costs associated include training and additional storage capacities. But, keep in mind that cloud computing offers a way to manage storage and various IT-related tasks without building and maintaining a hardware and software infrastructure onsite.
Ultimately, cloud computing can help you save money, but you might consider your business’s IT costs and specific needs before investing in it. First, tally up your direct costs (hardware, software, IT payroll, office rent, electricity, etc.) and see how they compare to the cost of cloud computing. Finally, any hardware or software problems your business has experienced should be included in the decision-making process. These might include server outages, slow Internet connections, unresponsive software, and lack of server space, which can affect your business’s productivity and bottom line.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.