Over the past few years cloud computing has become one of the most influential and most hyped IT Technologies for small business, governments, and the normal consumer. Just ask Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond, who notes that “hype” is in the eye of the beholder. Or, rather, the mouth of the hypester:
“[Cloud is] over-hyped by vendors, [but] under-hyped by successful adopters who get the culture shift and competitive advantage it brings.”
Today, 37 percent of small business have fully embraced the cloud, and a 2014 Intuit study predicts close to 80 percent by 2020. Organizations and businesses should simply migrate their resources and services to a cloud infrastructure, but it isn’t that simple and brings up a lot of questions from the IT department.
The first big appeal of the cloud for small businesses is its lower cost. Businesses won’t have to pay for routine maintenance on servers, or incur large bills because of downtime. The cloud is a piece of software that hands information off to the next server to keep the service online nearly 24/7/365. In addition, the support costs go down over time as servers become faster and able to hold more information, so a browser doesn’t need to access multiple sites for information.
If you think about a traditional server, you pay a set monthly rate for the server. This means you have to guess how much space, bandwidth, and CPU power you need before the month even begins. This leads to a lot of businesses over payING and not fully utilizing all the space and power of a dedicated server.
The cloud is different. You’re able to pay for the disk space, bandwidth, and CPU usage all separately. This means if you’re using a data base that doesn’t require a lot of CPU, but needs a lot of disk space you’re able to upgrade disk space and not pay hundreds more for the CPU too. It gives business the flexibility to increase different parts of the cloud as they need them.
The cloud also brings increased security with it. Because everything’s on the cloud, and not stored on a computer, if a computer is lost or stolen all the information isn’t on the device for would be hackers to steal. This isn’t to say the cloud is the most secure or best option when you’re storing sensitive data.
We’ve seen banks, social networks, and even dating sites have security breaches and personal data leaked. The breaches of security have included Target credit breach which affected millions of consumers along with banks and the overall economy. There were steps and processes to limit these attacks on cloud services. The use of strong passwords, two step authentication, and fixing security holes swifty can all keep sensitive data safe in the cloud.
The cloud is inherently flexible whether you’re juggling the specs of the server to best fit your business needs or accessing those files and services from anywhere in the world. The ability to save files on the Web and access them anywhere means real-time collaboration with anyone at anytime.
It’s less of having one employee edited a document, email it to their manager to edit, and then to have it emailed right back. Instead it’s possible to have the file in the cloud, and have the employee and manager both working on the same document at the same time.
Google has spent millions convincing organizations to governments to switch to their cloud tools on Google Apps. Google also says they’ve built their services, “on the same infrastructure that allows [them] to return billions of search results in milliseconds, serve 6 billion hours of YouTube video per month and provide storage for 425 million Gmail users.”
It’s alluring to be able to access files from any device. Long gone is the day files are stuck on a single server, on a single computer in an office. The cloud allows everyone to work flexible schedules, and most importantly small business owners are able to access their business at any time of the day.
Another appeal of the cloud is integration with other cloud services. Cloud enabled small businesses have the option of integrating with various cloud based providers to provide insights, statistics, or other tools in managing their business. Businesses can integrate their payroll with tools that allow them to monitor and manage their taxes, for example.
The cloud gives small business owners the opportunity to focus on more critical areas of their business and less time worrying about IT infrastructure. It’s the difference between worrying about checking one computer for statistics or being able to check any computer anywhere on how your site and services are running and how they’re being managed.
The cloud is where everyone is heading, and while some claim it’s over hyped and just another fad it looks to be the opposite. Daryl Plummer, analyst at Gartner says that
“adoption of the cloud is rising rapidly – there’s no sign that it’s going back. We have to think about how [we will] deal with this, more than likely, you will be dealing with hundreds of cloud services [by 2015].”
Migrating away from the cloud would be no different than trying to keep your business off the internet. It’s not possible in today’s world, where everyone’s always online. Businesses in the not so distance future will be expected to have all their resources and tools on the cloud, and employees could be deterred away if the potential employers isn’t already on the cloud.
Read Next: Why 2015 will be the year that the cloud comes of age
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