Cloud computing has been with us in one form or another for a long time. Google’s mail and calendar were possibly the what many first used and considered as cloud services. Now the cloud is the new buzz term for business. So what does it mean for you? Should you take the plunge?
There are a huge variety of services now available in the cloud. As I mentioned, Gmail has been with us for quite some time now.
Services such as Dropbox allow you to store files in the cloud and share or access them from virtually anywhere.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where software is accessed via the cloud, is an alternative popular with many small businesses. Group collaboration tools, accounting software, customer relationship management and content management software are all examples of SaaS.
The advantages of SaaS to the small business are:
- that usually access is charged on a per user basis (sometimes free for single-user or low transaction accounts);
- the software isn’t actually installed on your computer reducing technical expertise requirements
- security (including backup and redundancy) are handled by the provider and the software is generally customisable;
- quite often SaaS applications are updated much more regularly than “boxed” software.
Like all technology, cloud computing has advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to consider the benefits a service offers before leaping in a moving everything over to the cloud. Firstly ask whether moving to the cloud will improve your business processes or solve an issue? The security risks must also be considered. Although most cloud services would provide better security and backup systems than many businesses currently have, you still need to be aware of and comfortable with the possible risks.