The advent of affordable broadband connections has opened small businesses to the possibility of handling their businesses more efficiently on remote servers than their in-house equipment. Unfortunately, most businesses are unaware of the penetration levels of cloud computing as it is almost omnipresent. Slack, Dropbox, Salesforce, etc., are some of the other forms of cloud computing. However, small businesses can benefit from the technology on a much higher level. Hence, we have compiled a comprehensive guide for small businesses to leverage cloud computing technology optimally.
Cloud computing is a new offering made possible by the digital revolution. It is a service that allows users to access important programs, data, and information stored on secure remote servers with a strong enough internet connection.
Cloud computing technology is an umbrella term for different services, which includes:
Cloud Storage: It improves the synchronisation capacity of the company, and files and documents can be shared easily.
Cloud Backup: cloud storage and cloud backup might seem similar as both essentially deals with improving storage solutions. However, cloud backup is designed specifically as a failsafe solution to prevent any data loss. So, if your company server crashes, fails, or experiences a cyberattack, cloud backup options will keep your data secure.
Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS solutions are a service provider but for the Internet. It provides a nifty service and charges a fixed subscription amount. Some SaaS solutions include Office 365, Salesforce, Google Apps, etc.
Cloud Hosting: these services facilitate multiple types of information sharing solutions such as email services, application hosting, etc.
With so many possible applications, there are several cloud computing benefits as well. Cloud computing saves businesses a lot of time and money by boosting productivity, improving collaboration and innovation. However, enlisting all the benefits would be non-feasible. Hence, here are a few major benefits of employing cloud computing services for small and medium businesses.
- Data Accessibility
The possibility to access data anywhere anytime improves the data storage capabilities of the companies that make use of the technology. Any compatible device can access shared data from anywhere using a stable internet connection.
- Data Consistency
When data is shared across multiple devices, data inconsistencies can arise. Mistakes can happen, and data might get lost. Hence, having a centralised storage solution can reduce the possibility of such errors. Data is automatically synced between all devices, and everyone can access the updated files at all times.
- Access to Remote Programs
Businesses predominantly use software that is not common. Hence, the software used by office workers is not readily accessible. Using cloud computing allows the users to access all types of files and applications that they use in the office space. As a result, remote office programs can also be accessed from the comfort of your home.
- Cost Efficiency
Buying and maintaining server equipment requires time, expertise, and money. Some of these are hard to come by for a small business. Apart from the obvious reasons, building your own server can come with its own set of challenges. On the other hand, cloud computing provides the possibility of storing all your data without all the downsides. Prices for the service can still be considered as a monthly expense. However, these expenses are affordable and highly predictable.
How Does Cloud Services Store Data?
Securing your business’ confidential data is critical to its survival. Hence, trusting a third-party storage provider is not an ideal choice without any substantial evidence of its proficiency. Cloud services also pose an additional risk as the storage model of the service provider might not align with your business needs. There are three primary methods of data storage commonly opted by providers.
Public Cloud: it is built on an external platform that provides users with their own cloud space within a shared infrastructure. In such a case, the cloud provider will provide all the essentials such as system resources, security, and maintenance. It is maintained by a provider that caters to a wider range of clientele. It is a great alternative for those who wish for more flexibility in their offering with higher cost-efficiency.
Private Cloud: it is the most expensive alternative among all the cloud computing options. The reason for its higher costing is exclusivity. A private cloud is built within your own walls using your own hardware and software. Since it is maintained and managed by the internal IT team, data privacy is increased due to limited access. It is ideal for businesses that want greater control over their cloud system.
Hybrid Cloud: it is an ideal option for businesses that cannot decide which service they should opt for. It uses both private and public clouds. In a hybrid system, an organisation’s own IT team manages a part of the entire cloud system. Hybrid computing allows businesses to store case-sensitive data in the in-house servers, and the less confidential data can be stored in the public clouds.
Cloud computing is a dynamic offering that is majorly dependent on the client’s needs and expectations. As a result, the prices can vary drastically according to the plans chosen. For instance, Dropbox is a cloud storage and file sharing service that starts with a free account with limited features. However, additional features can be unlocked with a paid account with a nominal fee of $20 per user per month. Cloud-based services are also dependent upon the industry.
There are very few shortcomings of this revolutionary data solution. However, it is critical to enlist them to provide a holistic overview of the solution. Firstly, as the technology is relatively new, it will require training the employees extensively with special regard to troubleshooting and problem-solving skills. As a result, the employees that are unfamiliar with the technology might even protest against the idea.
Another concern is the security aspect of data stored. As sensitive data from multiple companies is stored under one roof, cloud computing servers become a prime target for cyberattacks. Businesses are especially concerned about safety and are concerned about the confidentiality of their sensitive data. Finding a cloud computing provider that is reputable enough and provides its services within the company’s budget can help mitigate this problem.
Whatever might be the industry you work in, if your business generates data and you wish to sync it across all your devices, then cloud computing will irrefutably help you. Finding a reputable service provider might be a challenging task. However, the benefits far outweigh the difficulties.