Cloud computing is everywhere today. A majority of businesses, from startups to large corporations, use it in some capacity or another for streamlining their existing processes, data storage, application deployment, hosting, backup and anything else you can think of.
But what exactly is the cloud? Why is it such an integral part of business operations today?
The U.S National Institute of Standards and Technology explains that cloud is a model that provides an on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources. These resources are configurable and can be set up and used with minimal effort.
Benefits of Moving to the Cloud
Put it simply, cloud represents an evolution in IT that guarantees measurable benefits to users and this is why it’s becoming a central aspect in today’s business world. For an idea of its applications as well as those measurable benefits, check out our 30 app ideas for small business article or keep reading.
Cloud is ideal for any business that has fluctuating demands. Say that sales during the holiday season are at least double of what you sell during the rest of the year. To manage this difference in demand, you need an infrastructure that scales up during the holiday season to meet the growing demands of your business, but scales back during mid-year so you can save money.
In other words, your infrastructure should dynamically scale based on your business demand and growth. That’s exactly what the cloud can do.
You have the option to add more storage space and computing resources when you want. At the same time, you can scale it back when you don’t need it. Since you pay only for what you use, you can tailor your resources to your needs.
One of the biggest reasons for people to move to the cloud is their budget.
First off, you don’t have to spend money to set up and maintain your own resources. No more data centers, large hardware arrays, rental space, utilities or any such large expenses.
With the cloud, you get to rent out someone else’s space and use it as long as you want. It’s that simple. Also, you pay only for what you use. So, if you use 10GB of space one month and only 2GB in another, you pay accordingly. This way, you have the choice to adjust usage based on your cash flow.
In addition, your employee costs also go down. IT staff is often the largest expense in your ledger, unless you want to pay peanuts and get monkeys. When you move to the cloud, a lot of tasks are automated, meaning you need fewer staff to run things.
Businesses of all sizes should have a robust disaster recovery system in place to protect their data and computer systems from loss or failure. If it weren’t for services like our best cloud backup providers, this would be a cumbersome and expensive process.
However, the cloud is a savior here as well: setting up a good backup strategy used to only be possible for people that had the means to install entire server banks and the staff to maintain them. Now, however, setting up an account with a backup service takes five minutes and could cost as little as $5.
When you subscribe to a cloud service, you don’t have to worry about a ton of tasks like software updates, installing patches and more. You can enjoy hassle-free maintenance because such mundane tasks are handled by the cloud provider. This frees up your time and resources, so you can focus on your business.
Keeping your data and documents in the cloud also means that your employees can easily work together on them, thanks to applications like Google Drive and Dropbox Paper. This will improve workflow greatly and also should lead to better communication between coworkers, even if they find themselves on different continents.
As an organization, you’ll also have better document control. In the past, employees had to send files back and forth as email attachment and this eventually led to a mess of conflicting content. With the cloud, all documents are stored in a central location, so everyone sees the same version. This way, you have better control and the entire collaboration process is more streamlined as well.
Today’s business world is highly competitive, so it’s important you tap into every available tool to enhance your productivity and pump out more product, in terms of both quality and quantity.
The cloud gives you access to a wide range of productivity tools and enterprise-class technology which before was available only to large companies. With these tools, smaller companies can also act fast, have access to the best resources and can better protect themselves.
The cloud is likely a lot safer than your own servers; most cloud providers have put a lot of effort into keeping their clients’ data free from government interference and safe from cybercriminals (if you’re particularly safety conscious, check out our list of most secure cloud storage providers).
Physical security is generally going to be better, too, as server farms are usually kept under lock and key and will have CCTV monitoring as well as human surveillance around the clock.
Factors to Consider while Moving to the Cloud
Before moving to the cloud, consider these different aspects, evaluate each one and then decide on the appropriate strategy.
What Should You Move?
This is one of the first questions you should ask yourself: decide what data and applications you want to move to the cloud and research which service will suit you best. You can look at our list of best business cloud storage, as we’ve done all the hard work for you in this regard.
You may want to keep highly critical applications close to home, as well as any outdated software you may be using; though these may be critical to the running of your business, older applications don’t always make the move well.
Stability and Reliability
Cloud computing vendors are competing with each other to woo customers. Starting from the big names like Amazon, Microsoft and Google to the smaller companies, everyone wants to have a share in the booming cloud market.
At Cloudwards.net we have a comparison chart of the best cloud storage providers that should help you narrow down your choice, based on a number of factors such as price, space provided as well as customer service.
Security and Privacy
The company you choose should have the right security practices. Check if the company has the necessary security certifications and again, look at their past experience.
If you’re particular about your privacy and don’t want other parties to access your data, consider a zero-knowledge cloud storage provider. These providers encrypt your data and only you have the keys to decrypt them. This way, no one, not even the employees of cloud providers can access your data, let alone the NSA.
You may also want to pick a provider based outside of the U.S. in some cases, especially if you’re worried about one of those unpleasant warrants the FBI is so fond of waving around.
In short, cloud is a happening technology that has the potential to take your company’s efficiency to new levels. The benefits include greater flexibility, savings in cost, better collaboration, hassle-free maintenance and more.
If you’re considering moving your business to the cloud, let us know if you have any questions in the comments below; after all, we’re here to help. Thank you for reading.