If you’re a small business owner, you’re always looking for ways to operate your business more efficiently. Among the most important areas to hold the line on expenses is the area of IT. Providing your employees with up-to-date technology has the potential to break the budget, but using outdated tech can also hurt your business’ productivity. How do you give your employees the tech tools they need without overspending on IT?
One way to level the playing field is to utilize cloud services for your tech needs.
The scalability of cloud services makes it possible for a business to use only the services it needs, without a significant outlay of cash for equipment, software, updates, and upgrades. Administration and maintenance of your computing environment is handled by your service provider, eliminating the need to have a dedicated IT staff. And let’s not forget, cloud services allow you to get back up and running quickly in the event of a disaster, because your business data and software are hosted offsite.
What is the cloud?
It might surprise you to learn that the concept of cloud computing has been in existence since the late 1960s; however, while the idea may have been there, the technology didn’t catch up for another 40 years.
What the term “cloud” meant for computing back in the 1960s is very different from the reality of what it means today. In today’s cloud computing, the hardware and software you use “lives” elsewhere and is maintained by a service provider. In fact, it’s likely you’ve been using the cloud and haven’t given it a moment’s thought, particularly if you’ve used some of these services:
- Email – Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Office 365
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn… every form of social media
- Music – Spotify, Pandora
- Videos – Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video, Hulu
- File Sharing – DropBox, Google Drive, One Drive, or private solutions
Cloud-based services are both the present and the future of computing, and there are distinct advantages – and a few downsides – to the cloud.
The Advantages of Cloud Computing
- Disaster Recovery – Software and data that live in the cloud can be quickly and easily accessed in the event of a data disaster, and automatic backups create a restore point – something that can be a lifesaver should your business ever get hit with ransomware.
- Increased Collaboration – If you have employees offsite as well as in the office, cloud computing can help them to work together seamlessly and in real time.
- Flexibility – Work in the office, work at home, work on the road …work from anywhere.
- Economical and Budget Friendly – Jettison the expense of individual software licenses, upgrades, and on-site maintenance; cloud services can help hold the line on costs, allowing you to purchase only what you need for your business.
The Downsides of Cloud Computing
- Dependence on Internet Connectivity – If your internet connection goes down or is otherwise unavailable, you’re out of business until you can connect again.
- Cost – The a-la-carte nature of cloud services can lead some businesses to overspend on unnecessary services; if you don’t pay careful attention to these costs, they can derail your budget.
- Security Issues – Trusting your business data to a third party has some inherent risks, and some businesses dealing with highly sensitive data may find that storing such data in the cloud isn’t practical.
Should Your Business Be Using the Cloud?
Depending on your business needs and budget, and the sensitivity of the data that your business handles, the cloud can be a large or small part of your business. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to your business’ IT needs, and your chosen service provider can work with you to develop the right combination to serve your business well.