Moving to a cloud server means your small business’ data and applications are being hosted online rather than on an in-house or premise-based server.  Premise-based servers come with their own set of problems and typically require
extensive IT support for updates, security management and configuration.  Add to this a yearly license cost for the Microsoft server operating system as well as power, space and cooling requirements and owning a server can be a costly yearly business

What does cloud computing for businesses look like? Well, the biggest component is buying into the concept of outsourcing the ownership of the hardware itself and placing your company’s data and applications in the hands of a 3rd party.  However, the benefits can be dramatic in terms of capital expenditure savings for the hardware and software and monthly or yearly operating expenses.  And, there are a number of benefits derived from leveraging cloud computing resources.

So What Does Cloud Computing Mean for Your Business?

Save Money

Saving financial resources are the reason most businesses switch to cloud hosted solutions.  You don’t need to upgrade server software or hardware and you’ll be able to reduce your IT department drastically – otherwise wipe it out altogether – depending on the size of your business.  And, if you are outsourcing your IT support services to a Managed Services provider, you can typically reduce your monthly support contract as your service provider no longer needs to manage your server or servers.

Improve Security

With cloud hosted solutions, you can establish better practices for management of data within your organization.  For example, rather than users taking their laptops and, therefore, applications and data with them to work outside the office, they can just use any device for remote access to the same applications and data being hosted in the cloud.

Make Your Employees Happier

Everyone knows happy staff is the key with a successful business.  How can a cloud solution make your employees happier?  By allowing them to work from home on any device they happen to have without compromising performance or requiring them to bring their laptop back and forth to the office.  This gives your employees more autonomy and helps boost their productivity levels too.

Work from Anywhere

The advantages of being able to work everywhere extends beyond making workers happier.  If you travel a lot for your company or have a long commute time, a cloud computing solution enables you to use that period productively.  Kids ill?  Snow blocking the driveway?  If you can’t get to the office – not an issue, just work from home.

Are There Any Disadvantages of Cloud Computing?

Needless to say, there are downsides to cloud computing. Putting your organization’ documents and data in the hands of an external organization means it could be less secure.  You won’t have all control over it and allowing employees to work from their own devices is often a path fraught with potential security hazards – but that does not necessarily mean your company will be unsafe.  In fact, maybe it’s safer: were your in-house server fail and your IT guys unable to rescue it, what then?  Shared hosted servers can drastically reduce the risk of losing vital data.

Is Cloud Computing Right for Your Business?

Is making the move onto the cloud best for you and your organization?  Well, chances are you’re already utilizing it to some degree.  Do you use Gmail or some other external webmail service, rather than an in-house email server? How about Google Docs, Dropbox, or another online storage solution?  These types of applications are all hosted on cloud servers.

How to Find a Suitable Cloud Solutions Provider

It’s also worth taking into consideration that cloud hosting providers make their money by keeping clients up and running.  They have to be cognizant of the latest security issues and make certain all hardware and software is up-to-date.  And, losing your data or setting it up so another client sees it – well, they wouldn’t be around for long.  Chances are they know what they’re doing, and they actually do it well.  Questions to consider include:

  • Where will my data reside?
  • What type of physical and network security do you have for your cloud infrastructure?
  • Do you have redundancy?
  • Is backup offsite or located elsewhere in case of a disaster
  • What is your typical up-time?
  • How are you monitoring and maintaining your infrastructure?
  • What’s your response time in case I have a problem?