Cloud Computing and Your Small Business: A Perfect Match

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Your small business can save both time and money by investing in cloud computing

If you don’t like technology that’s too complex, or you don’t want the added expense of cloud computing, it’s time to stop asking yourself if you can afford to invest in the cloud and start asking yourself if you can afford not to. Cloud computing gives small businesses a unique opportunity to level the playing field and goes a long way to saving you fistfuls of money.

What cloud computing can do for you

There’s good reason why cloud computing is an industry that enjoys more than 30% annual growth: you can store your data, run software and applications for a fraction of the price you used to have to invest in IT.

Now, instead of having large servers and the cost of maintenance and security, everything can easily be stored on the cloud. This means you can reduce your hardware and maintenance costs and save both money and time.

There are other advantages too; you and your staff will have access to your data at all times from any device capable of connecting to the Internet. For example, if one of your employees is in the field and a customer asks for a quote, they can immediately access the database with their smartphone, tablet computer or laptop and download the information they need. This streamlines your business and saves you time. This increased efficiency helps put you on par with larger corporations.

Software is another advantage. Cloud computing allows you to license one version of the software programs you use rather than buy a separate version for each employee. Cloud computing means that patches and updates are automatically loaded which also helps to reduce your downtime and saves you money.

Cloud computing also improves your access to security. Instead of investing in costly security packages and expensive iterations, you can simply rely on the cloud computing security software for added protection of your sensitive data.

Cloud Computing Pitfalls

There are very few potential problems with cloud computing, but it is good to know what they are before you begin. The first step is to establish a cloud computing security protocol. This will entail creating secure passwords and ensuring that your employees do not share these with anyone and that they access your cloud only from safe locations. Establish protocols for when devices get lost or stolen too.

You should also ensure that you choose the cloud computing package that best suits your business needs and level of technological sophistication. Here are the three main layers of cloud computing service offered by most vendors. There are two other layers which will not be covered in the scope of this article as they don’t apply to the small business owner:

Software as a Service (SaaS)

This is the most commonly used cloud computing service and it is usually the one small business owners opt for. Here programs are already built and you are simply granted access by the vendor. For example, if you need access to MS Office, the vendor grants you access and you no longer have to have individual copies of the software on each computer. This is a much cheaper option which will allow you to sign up for the programs you need and will help keep you up to date with the latest versions.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

This is similar to SaaS as you still get access to programs built by your vendor, but now you get access to the program library and you can use it to change and build applications. Now you can build your own applications and you have more flexibility.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

Here your cloud computing vendor will simply provide the environment for you to host or build your own applications. You can add or build anything in this space and this model gives you the most flexibility. As your business grows, this model enables you to increase the capacity available to you. This is a great way to ensure that you are not paying for space that you aren’t using.

With all these advantages, the small business owner can compete with much larger companies. Since you have access to the same technology and data, your small size and flexibility become a distinct advantage. It’s time to consider cloud computing as a way to make your small business more efficient.