The cloud is an inescapable buzzword used in business technology and by consumers today. It’s everywhere. But how do IT professionals feel about the cloud? I can’t speak for all of them, but I want to share my thoughts and advice. Embrace it. Use it. Take advantage of it to make your life easier.
The cloud takes us full circle. When business computers first came on to the scene, we used a mainframe and accessed that mainframe from terminals. That evolved into a workstation, or personal computer. The processing and number crunching was done on a local machine while the data was stored and shared on a network. That gave users of all walks of life in every industry access to computer-based tools. Then came easy access to the Internet. Add in mobile computers and handheld devices (smartphones and tablets), and we can access the cloud anywhere at any time.
The current model (meaning non-cloud) keeps IT managers busy. There is a constant struggle to keep everything running properly, to keep it current, and to keep it cheap. Small businesses have to purchase and maintain network servers, the software to run those servers, and the workstations on which to run the software. The greatest benefit to this system is that the small business has complete control of everything. But that also means that if it fails, the company fails. Enter cloud services. Here are three reasons why the cloud can benefit your small-business IT.
Reason #1: Cloud services provide the hardware infrastructure offsite, meaning that the small business does not have to pay for and maintain those servers. They are out of sight and out of mind. If one goes down, the small business doesn’t care. If they all go down—well, then there is a problem—but the small business doesn’t have to pay for it. If the business’s server goes down, it loses money due to downtime and cost of repairing or replacing the servers. A server failure can ruin a business.
Reason #2: The cloud can also provide software as a service. Instead of incurring the large one-time cost of purchasing a software license, the cloud offers a subscription on a per-user basis. That benefits a company in several ways. It greatly reduces the initial cost of the software, spreading it over time. When your company expands, simply add another user to the service. No large cost, just a small increase to your monthly bill. It also means that if the number of software licenses decreases, your monthly bill decreases. You can’t resell software you no longer use. Software as a service will reduce your software costs both initially and over time.
Reason #3: Cloud services can reduce maintenance costs. Because the service does not require local hardware or software, IT directors can more efficiently manage the business’s technology needs. The cloud won’t solve all of our IT problems; it does have its own issues. But it has the potential to reduce IT costs through licensing and fewer management needs.
For further reading, see what others are saying about small businesses and the cloud:
PCMag.com offers 20 top cloud services for small businesses.
The Wall Street Journal reviews the pros and cons of small businesses using the cloud.
The Guardian poses questions as to whether or not your small business could benefit from the cloud.