Ask almost anyone to define “cloud” and you might get a variety of responses, many of them suggesting the condensation of water vapor in the air. But for business, “the cloud” is a way of handling computing functions more economically and efficiently. Cloud computing, in a nutshell, outsources computation, software applications, data access, data management, and storage resources to an offsite network of servers. Business information is stored on offsite systems and uses offsite software, eliminating the need to update programs and providing secure data backups, no matter what size business.
One benefit of the cloud is that it’s effortless. In fact, you’ve most likely operated in the cloud and haven’t realized it. Social media apps like Facebook or Twitter, online email such as Gmail, media services like YouTube, VoIP services such as Skype – if you’ve used any of these, you’ve been operating in the cloud. You don’t have to understand how it works; all you need to do is use it. Painless, isn’t it?
The implications of cloud computing for small business are enormous.
By moving computing functions and software apps to the cloud, traditional business elements such as accounting and invoicing, sales management, audio and video conferences, and data backups become standardized company-wide. All employees have access to the same information and software, and can access them with a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. This information can be accessed anywhere and at any time, without the downtime commonly associated with hardware or software upgrades. And because the cloud provides nearly unlimited storage capacity, a wealth of information can be backed up and stored indefinitely.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the cloud is scalability. Simply put, scalability means that cloud space can be increased or decreased as your business needs it, quickly and easily. For the budget-conscious smaller business, this is a great way to hold the line on computing costs, because you only pay for what you use. And cloud-based computing functions and software apps take a great deal of pressure and expense away from the daily operation of business. Companies no longer need a large outlay of capital to purchase, manage, maintain, or scale the equipment necessary to keep their business running. With all of these functions outsourced to the cloud, concerns about updating equipment and software are a thing of the past.
All in all, cloud computing allows small business to compete on a more level playing field with big corporations. The cloud enables the small business to react and respond more quickly and efficiently to their customers – the edge that small companies need to succeed.
But with all these obvious advantages comes this caveat: the cloud must be secure in order to provide these benefits. The decision to move operations to the cloud must be done with care, so do your homework. Seek out a provider that will handle your company’s information with utmost concern. Because your data is important, a reputable provider will protect it by ensuring that it is accessible only by authorized users. Furthermore, storing data in multiple locations will guard against loss. Above all, these two points should be non-negotiable.
Lieberman Technologies can help your business make the move to the cloud. We can answer your questions regarding the security of your data and provide you with trained service professionals to guide you in making this decision.