Why cloud computing? Because it's the best thing for small business since the creation of the stapler. Cloud computing is a playing field leveler; it gives small businesses access to technologies that previously were out of their reach and lets small businesses compete with both other small businesses and larger ones.
And to make the deal even sweeter, cloud computing can save your small business money, too.
Why Cloud Computing Can Save You Money
1) You no longer have to pay for someone (or a team of someones) to do things such as install and update software, install and manage email servers and/or fine servers, run backups – the beauty of cloud computing is that all of the business of maintaining the service or application is the responsibility of the cloud vendor, not yours.
2) You no longer have to buy software. Besides the convenience of not having to buy software programs and install them on your own servers/computers, using cloud applications instead can be cheaper. (But be sure you read the caveat about this in The Disadvantages of Cloud Computing.)
3) You may be able to consolidate your separate application needs into one multi-application cloud computing service. For instance, Google Apps for Business includes email, a calendar scheduling application, Google Docs for creating documents, presentations and forms and using online file storage and Google Sites for creating websites, all for only $5/month for each person on your account. Now think about the price of, let's say, Microsoft Office (including Microsoft Outlook for email) – and note that Office doesn't include a website application.
Cloud computing vendors such as Infostreet provide a suite of cloud applications including CRM, calendar scheduling, email, conference calling, file sharing and an employee directory for as little as $10 per person per month.
4) You may be able to cut back on system hardware. File storage, data backup and software programs all take up a lot of space on servers/computers. With cloud computing, you use someone else's servers to store all this data instead, freeing up your in-house computer equipment for other purposes or even letting you get rid of some of it.
5) A cloud computing application may make integration easier. Because many cloud computing applications include an Application Programming Interface (API) you may be able to find "compatible" applications rather than having to pay to have the applications you want to be integrated customized for you.
6) Cloud computing applications are regularly updated, so you don't have to spend time and money doing it – and giving you the advantage of always having access to an application's latest features and functions.
Other Cloud Computing Advantages
7) Cloud computing allows you and your employees easy access to applications and data from different computers and devices. "As more consumers and businesses adopt tools such as smart phones and tablets, the ability to host data in the cloud and access it from just about anywhere on the planet is quickly becoming vital", says Omar El Akkad in Outsource IT Headaches to the Cloud (The Globe and Mail).
8) Cloud computing lets you start up or grow your small business quickly. It's a lot easier and faster to sign up for a cloud computing application than to buy a server, get it up and running and install software on it. And because you don't need to buy hardware and software, your start up or expansion is cheaper, too.
Cloud Computing Is for Every Small Business
So why aren't you cloud computing already? Oh wait - you probably are. Hotmail, Gmail, Flickr and Google Maps are all examples of cloud computing applications that you've probably used at some point or even use regularly. When it comes to using cloud computing for business purposes, though, you need to consider the disadvantages of cloud computing as well as the advantages. Then you'll be able to make an informed decision about how much of your business should be in the cloud.