There continues to be a growing demand for cloud computing services, especially among small business owners seeking reliable web hosting services. With the plethora of cloud providers currently available, for many entrepreneurs looking for a reputable service it’s difficult to choose the best cloud host to accommodate hosting needs. There are five cloud hosting providers, however, leading the industry when it comes to delivering quality hard drives in the cloud on a tight budget.
Amazon Web Services
Despite Amazon’s recent outage, the company continues to offer attractive cloud storage features tailored for small businesses. Amazon is a top choice for small business ventures because customers are not required to purchase hardware. Instead, users pay a small fee each month to access Amazon’s infrastructure in a cloud computing environment. Customers have the ability to order computing services and storage on an as-needed basis to meet individual hosting needs. Amazon places computing power in the control of the customers as they can add or remove processing power and storage space in real time as well as delivering several layers of security to protect valuable data. Amazon is a great pay-as-you-grow cloud hosting option.
Microsoft just recently threw its proverbial hat into the cloud ring introducing Office 365. Small business owners opting for Office 365 have access to all of MS Office’s applications without the need to install the actual software on computers or servers. Users are granted access to documents, contacts, e-mail, and calendars to devices connected to the Internet. Office 365 is available for a very affordable $6 per month. It’s best suited for small businesses employing less than 25 employees and don’t have an IT employee on staff. In addition to the 25 GB mailbox, users benefit from the ability to edit documents and spreadsheets simultaneously. Additionally, users have access to PC-to-PC audio, instant messaging, and video calls.
Google also offers cloud storage services designed for small business owners. Google is a bit more established than Microsoft, offering cloud apps now for over a year. Google’s cloud services are very similar to Microsoft’s cloud plan. Users are granted customized e-mail addresses, calendar, mobile e-mail, IM access, Google Sites, Google Docs, spam filtering, 24/7 customer support and 99.9% guaranteed uptime. Google’s cloud services are available for an affordable $5 per month.
Although not currently available as Apple is scheduled to unveil iCloud in Fall 2011. Apple’s iCloud is best described as “an online hard drive on steroids”. iCloud will offer users a vast array of features such as storing music, photos, apps, documents and other data online. Additionally, it will deliver services wireless to laptops, iPad, or smartphones. Similar to Microsoft and Google, iCloud will grant access to e-mails, calendars, and contacts as well as allowing multiple users to edit documents simultaneously.
Finally, a newcomer to the cloud industry, Dropbox is a cloud storage service provider to watch. Dropbox allows users to store important files on the provider’s secure website, easily accessible via Windows, Linux, Mac, iPad, Android/BlackBerry phones, and iPhone. Other attractive features include the fact the service is free for 2 GB of storage space, $9.99/month for 50 GB of storage, and $19.99/month for 100 GB of storage. Dropbox also works without the need to be connected to the Internet. Furthermore, users can opt to transfer part of a huge file or manually set bandwidth limits to prevent crashing servers. Like the previous providers, users can also work simultaneously on documents.