There’s no doubt about it, small businesses are embracing ‘the cloud’.
But your small business hasn’t become successful by just following the masses – so why should you be looking to change the habits that have got you to where you are today?
To decide whether the cloud would be a benefit to you, we’ll walk you through what it is, how it works, some of the benefits organisations experience – and any associated business worries…
WHAT IS THE CLOUD?
Given the way it’s spoken about, you can be forgiven for thinking ‘the cloud’ is an actual service, a company or even a physical thing – but it’s not. It’s just a way of explaining how a service is delivered to you.
The chances are you’ve used the cloud today – almost certainly if you’ve used social media, a news app or checked your email. The companies providing these applications store their data on a network of servers – you access that data with your device. In doing so, you’re accessing the cloud.
Hence, there’s no single ‘cloud’ providing information to the world – when we refer to the cloud we’re talking about ‘cloud computing’ – accessing information or a service on a company’s servers, delivered through the internet to your device.
When there’s talk of data being stored off site and the use of other company’s servers it’s natural that you look over at that hot, buzzing, LED-adorned server rack and imagine costs disappearing – and you’d be right.
Cost is one of the biggest driving factors for small businesses that turn to cloud solutions. In the past, you’d be faced with spending a tremendous amount of money before you sent your first email as a new company – the network infrastructure, servers, devices and software added up to big numbers.
Cloud computing is a solution for the competitive era of small business we find ourselves in today – where huge capital expenditure isn’t always feasible or practical – and a quickly evolving marketplace means enormous hardware changes can leave you in the wake of other, faster moving businesses.
Decision makers often think that the need to be ‘agile’ in the marketplace doesn’t apply to their organisation – but this can be a costly attitude when changes are required. We’ve supported countless businesses from start-up to large-scale expansion – and if there’s one thing we can tell you with certainty; unforeseen occurrences happen, for good and for bad.
If you need to access more resources, the cloud based services let you do it quickly. On the other side of the coin – if you need to downsize or consolidate costs, you can do that just as quickly. The same applies for moving sites, opening new locations, working with new applications, offering new services… and much more.
WHO’S OFFERING CLOUD SERVICES?
Perhaps the most significant name in cloud based services is Microsoft’s Office 365. Office has been the cornerstone of most business’s end-user IT experience for the longest time – and their cloud based service is cutting edge. In the past, you would buy the most recent version of Office for all your PCs – a significant sized cheque to sign!
Now, Office 365 means you can pay per-user, per-month – with a host of optional features to suit your business. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all – here to stay is an Office that can be accessed across multiple devices, with significant amounts of storage, tools that let you collaborate with colleagues in real time and even an online version of your exchange server – meaning company email and calendars can be accessed on all your devices.
Customer relationship management tools, storage, backups, hosting services and many more – they’re all available in the cloud – and it’s now far less about how you can adapt to use them – and more about how their services can adapt to your business.
BUT WHAT ABOUT SECURITY?
Entrusting data and services to another company might seem like a significant red flag for the most security conscious of us – but the cloud is likely to be the safest place for it. The most recent high-profile cyber-attacks have specifically targeted those who keep their data locally – and in fact, cloud based services would have mitigated all the resulting issues.
If you’ve heard about cloud based services being compromised, it’s almost always at the point where poor end-user habits and easily guessed passwords are involved – and virtually never through technical loopholes. Cloud computing is some of the safest in the industry.
THE CLOUD AND YOUR BUSINESS
Is IT an area you feel could be serving your small to medium sized business better than it currently is? Does business flexibility, cost saving, improved security and increased productivity all sound appealing? Cloud solutions could be the answer you’ve been looking for.
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