The Benefits of Cloud Computing for a Small Business

Cloud computing is being hailed as the best thing since the post-it note for modern business owners. Are you sat there wondering what it's all about? Business owners, big and small, successful and new ventures are turning to this new way of doing business. Gone are the days of traditional applications for your desktop. Long gone are the days of paper and pen, even! Figures suggest that within a few years, more than three-quarters of small businesses will be using cloud services, and there are numerous reasons why this will be so. Here is a guide for beginners. After all, with so many small businesses jumping on board, it's got to be something worthwhile.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is as simple as it sounds: it's computing based remotely, by utilizing the internet. Traditionally, a small business owner would have made use of a number of different applications on a desktop. The apps or programs would be downloaded directly onto a computer or a server. Nowadays, there is no need for this as cloud computing allows for the same applications directly from the internet. It's not just businesses that make use of this system. Facebook, for example, uses cloud computing as does your mobile banking service. Even the Government of Canada makes use of cloud computing. It allows you, as a business owner, to view, edit, and access all your important information from anywhere in the world. You're no longer tied to the office or forced to work using a specific computer. As long as you've got an internet connection you can run your business from China to Timbuctoo. 

The Benefits of Cloud Computing

If you're wondering whether you should be jumping onboard the cloud computing revolution, here are a few of the benefits.

Flexibility is Increased

If you decide to make use of cloud-based computing, you'll be able to access all your important business-related files from anywhere, any time. The world we live in is a very mobile one, and business owners are no longer forced to operate from one place. More and more employees are now being encouraged to work from home, and business owners can easily track what's going on with their business. The increased flexibility also means cost savings for business owners.

Better Integration

Small businesses that have adopted cloud-based computing are able to integrate with other cloud-based providers. There are various service providers which offer specialized services including back-office operations, marketing, accounting, human resources and website design. You can learn more about how the cloud can assist your web design. Being able to integrate with these providers means a business owner can concentrate on more important things.

Takes Care of Disaster Recovery

Data loss is a real risk for anyone who uses a computer system for any aspect of their business. It could be a natural disaster, or you might simply leave your laptop on the train. Cloud computing solutions mitigate any risk. The information is hosted somewhere else and will still be available when there is a power cut; your equipment has broken down or gone missing. Within a couple of minutes, you can be back up and ready to run again.

Automatic Updates

The servers for a cloud-based system are away from your business premises. The provider of the service will take care of any updates for you. These include security updates, which can be very time-consuming. If you don't have to worry about system maintenance yourself, you'll be free to get on with other things.

No Large Upfront Expense

There is no need to spend large amounts of money on hardware. Services tend to be pay-as-you-go, so you only pay for what you require. Setting such a system up is easy, and it's not complicated to manage either. This type of system also saves you money because you don't have to use the services of a computer maintenance team. There will be no need to purchase any software and install it on your computers, so this is another saving.

Document Control is Improved

When you have a number of employees collaborating on documents, things can get very confusing when they are sent back and forth attached to emails. Controlling such documents gets very difficult, and eventually, you end up in a terrible mess. With employees working in various locations, these complications become even more likely. With files stored in a central location that everyone has access to, the problem is removed. Visibility is improved along with collaboration; thereby leading to improved levels of work.

It's Eco-Friendly

We're all very concerned with our effect on the world around us, and believe it or not, using cloud computing lets you play your part in helping the environment. As your needs fluctuate, so your server capacity can change accordingly. It means you only use the energy you need, and nothing is wasted. 

There are many benefits to using cloud computing, but as you might expect, there are also a few disadvantages. In the interests of providing a balanced view, it's only fair we share these as well. 

The Downside of Cloud Computing

Downtime is probably the biggest disadvantage. As with anything internet based, there is always the risk of a service outage. It can occur for any number of reasons, at any time. Safety of your data is also an ever-present risk. Of course, the providers take security very seriously, but there is still the risk of a breach. The cost of a system can also spiral out of control if you're not sure what you're doing. One good way to overcome this is to experiment with a range of different options until you find the right one for your business. 

There's no denying that using cloud computing will give you an advantage in business. So many companies are choosing to operate in this way that you'd be mad not to give it a try. Of course, you might try it and decide you don't like it. The latest technology doesn't work for everyone. Signing up for a cloud computing application is really quick and easy. Much easier than buying your own server, installing all the software you need and getting it up and running.