Fun fact: In 2010, companies spent $21.5 billion on cloud computing services.
Experts estimate that by 2015 the total cost of all businesses using the cloud will be around $72.9 billion. The cloud — this new technology that is heavily used by mammoth corporations like Google, Skype, and Amazon — is here to stay.
But does cloud computing make sense for YOUR business? Should you move to the cloud?
In this article I will explain the pros and cons of business cloud computing services and you can decide for yourself if it is something you would like to try for your company.
One thing is certain: Cloud computing helps small businesses compete with large businesses. This is because you will have the same tools at your disposal.
Small businesses can now use affordable and robust web applications to accomplish pretty much anything, from document management to email hosting to enterprise resource planning. Cloud apps like Gmail, Dropbox, and Salesforce are remarkable because large enterprises, tiny organizations, and ordinary people can all benefit from them.
What’s the case for using Cloud Computing?
It’s all about cost reduction.
Using the cloud can reduce or eliminate the need for an IT staff. Software updates, maintenance, and server hardware upgrades are all managed by the people that created the software. That means less hassle and lower costs.
Also, the cloud moves as fast as your business expands, which means it’s infinitely scalable. When an ordinary website gets so much traffic that it exceeds the server’s capacities, the site goes down. In the cloud, the website scales to meet the demand.
Paying for cloud hosting is similar to paying for your electric/water bill. You only pay for what you use.
Cloud computing also enhances collaboration. You can access data from any computer with the internet, and use collaborative web applications to communicate and get things done.
This makes it much easier for teams collaborating in different locations.
Why businesses are slow to use the cloud?
Not everything about using the cloud is good. It’s time to visit the cons and leave it up to you to weigh the different sides.
One major issue is data security. You can never be too certain who has access to your data, especially with the increased prevalence of hacking and cyber attacks.
There’s also a chance for data loss. Not too long ago, many users of Evernote, a popular note-taking cloud application, were affected by data loss. Evernote backs up user data to six different places, but a one-in-a-million fluke was still able to cause data loss affecting over 6,000 users.
Another issue is that cloud apps aren’t entirely future-proof. It may not be possible to export your data into a format you can easily use elsewhere. And what happens if you cancel your subscription or your account is deleted? These are all things you should consider before implementing cloud applications into your business processes.
Some tips for moving to the cloud
If you do decide to move to the cloud, here are some tips that will be beneficial to you:
- Thing Big – Can the server provider of your choice provide adequate space to you if your business grows? If the answer is no, search for another company that can.
- Export your data – Put your data in standard, ubiquitous formats, just in case data is lost or you choose to switch to another provider.
- Read Agreement – This is probably the most important tip I can give you. A. See what you’re going to be paying for! B. Are there fees for termination? C. What are the privacy agreements? D. Anything else that seems important to you.
- Evaluate different service providers – Many cloud applications offer a free trial or even a free version. Take advantage of this. Look at the user interface (see if it’s laid out the way you like). There are some great cloud hosting providers out there. Never forget to do your homework.
- Have fun – Cloud computing is ultimately about improving your business’ bottom line and making your processes more efficient and effective. But don’t be afraid to have fun. The cloud is changing fast, and there are lots of cool and interesting ways to take advantage of it.
A guest post by Derek Conjar.