Understanding Cloud Computing for Business?
In the business world at large, cloud computing quickly turned from a buzzword into a fact of everyday working life. In fact, many small startups rely on cloud computing without even realizing it – online email and file-sharing services are a prime examples.
Cloud computing has already revolutionized the way companies store, process, and manage all kinds of data forever – but many SMEs have yet to embrace its full potential. Here we take a look at some examples of cloud computing in action and some of the benefits of 4D Data Centres for small and medium businesses.
What is cloud computing?
Defined as “the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer,” – what cloud computing essentially means to the man on the street is the ability to outsource hardware like servers and data centers, while still being able to access the data stored there from wherever you happen to be.
One example virtually everyone has had experience with is a service like Gmail – which launched, believe it or not, some 15 years ago now. In the dialup days, you could only access your emails from a dedicated computer – meaning you had to be at the office to check your work emails or at home in front of the PC to check your personal emails.
This made the system marginally preferable to sticking with the old fax machine.
Now, when so many of us carry a miniature computer in the form of a smartphone with us at all times and can access our emails from whatever device we choose – whether that’s the office computer, our phone, an internet café or Wi-Fi hotspot or via a friend’s laptop, the old system looks pretty cumbersome. Email, of course, was just the beginning of the cloud computing revolution.
Benefits of cloud computing for SMEs and startups
Cost. The biggest benefit cloud computing offers small businesses is that it provides access to world-class services without investing in your expensive hardware. The building, running, and maintaining of extensive data centers are left to a dedicated provider whose business relies on their customer’s data security.
This means lower IT and hardware costs. Some startups now do away with the need to invest in hardware altogether by allowing employees to work on their own devices – which they can do from anywhere.
Enabling remote work – allowing employees to perform their tasks from home or another country, any time of the day or night, is another big benefit for businesses of every size.
Scalability is another big plus. Because various subscription models are available, companies pay only for the computing resources they use.
Netflix used this aspect to massive success by migrating their in-house data centers to the cloud, allowing them to expand quickly and grow their customer base without building and maintaining their infrastructure.
For your more everyday business, cloud-based software such as basic accounting packages, which can be upgraded only when you need them to be, is one example.
Cybersecurity is another big reason to consider moving to the cloud.
With hackers and the worms, viruses, and ransomware programs they come up with getting sneakier every day, most small and medium businesses just don’t have the resources to stay ahead of the curve independently and can quickly become an easy targets.
Large cloud service providers do, and it is in their best interest to have the latest technologies in place.
Ease of collaboration – working on shared spreadsheets that are updated in real-time, uploading files to a shared resource, allowing several users access to information at once, and restricting access to only the documents and files that each user needs is another benefit.
Scheduling – imagine you run a small gym or yoga studio with a handful of trainers and teachers.
If someone is unable to make one of their regular classes for whatever reason, cloud-based scheduling allows you to send the word out that you need someone to fill in and for everyone to get updated when the slot has been filled.
This makes the process much less time-consuming than having to phone each trainer individually. This kind of schedule can also be used across your employee’s existing calendars, integrated with their email, and any productivity apps they may make use of.
As the Internet of Things gets larger and more complex, cloud computing’s uses and benefits will continue to grow. As a small business, taking advantage now could be the smartest move you ever make.
Infographic created by HotWire Networks, a web hosting company