Broadband internet access and the common use of mobile devices makes cloud computing a viable option for small businesses everywhere.
- More of a modern- type approach to handling long-running business needs, is Cloud computing
- Cloud computing has been made possible with the introduction of broadband internet and smart mobile technology
- Small businesses benefit in many ways from cloud computing;
#1 it streamlines how information is shared
#2 it stores and backs up company data
#3 it runs software applications
If you’re a small business owner that is interested in the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of cloud computing, then this article is for you.
Rather than on your company’s in-house equipment, the arrival of broadband internet, cloud computing means that business needs can be managed more efficiently in a distant server. If you’re familiar with Dropbox to store files, Slack to simplify company communication or a CRM like Salesforce to manage customer relations, you’re already using a form of cloud-based software. Your small business can make use of cloud computing to streamline your operations, with a some explanation of the concept by the experts.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is a digital service that gives users access to important programs and data stored on a remote server wherever they have an internet connection. So flexible for the small business that must get what they need right when they need it, from wherever they are. In order words whether staff are using computers, laptops, mobile phones, in the office, working from home, on-site or on the road, access to programs and data stored is always available wherever there’s an internet connection. It’s that simple!
What is cloud computing used for?
The phrase Cloud computing, is a blanket term for different types of cloud services, such as
- Cloud storage: These services store and back up your files for regular access. Files can also be shared and synced across devices.
- Cloud backup: Cloud backup is designed to serve as protection against experiences like a server crash, cyberattack or other data loss.
- Software as a service (SaaS): SaaS solutions use the web to provide a service. Examples of SaaS application include Office 365, Google Apps, QuickBooks Online and Salesforce. SaaS solutions may also be called platform as a service.
- Cloud hosting: These solutions facilitate multiple types of information sharing, such as email services, application hosting, web-based phone systems and data storage.
In other words, including web hosting and file storage, a cloud solution can handle numerous business-related tasks.
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What are the benefits of cloud computing?
There are many benefits in using Cloud computing for a small business, for example it saves time and money while boosting productivity, and collaboration and promoting innovation.
Both small and midsize businesses can benefit cloud computing solutions. If you’re still not convinced here are five additional benefits
Extremely accessible data
Cloud computing stores data on the internet, rather than storing the information on your computer or office server. Therefore, information is accessible from anywhere with any compatible device. That’s to say, from a central web-based hub, information is available to anyone with internet and the proper credentials access from any location.
Maintains consistency between users
Collaboration is key when multiple workers are working on the same digital file. The most up-to-date version is required to keep the team informed. Most importantly, with cloud computing the individual team members can access the most up-to-date version of files from wherever they are because all cloud-hosted files are stored in the same central location. As a result, data is automatically synced between all devices.
Allows for remote programs
Cloud computing allows users to access all types of files and applications as though they were in the office. And since businesses rely on specialised software normally found on company computers in the office, cloud computing makes it easy to set up the office at the kitchen table. That’s to say, the barrier of entry is removed for employees to use programs where they are physically, whether at home, on the road or onsite, easily.
Easy data backup
At any time really, catastrophic data loss can happen. It generally occurs from natural disasters, power surges, or hardware failure. Unfortunately, within the same year as the data loss, research has found that affected companies are at an increased risk of bankruptcy.
So, business owners have peace of mind that important files are safe even if hardware fails. But only if they store their important data in the cloud.
Small businesses often have small budgets and cloud computing can definitely- save- money. A physical sever is initially an expensive outlay, then equipment requires maintenance, warranty, time, expertise and money. All the while they can be prone to downtime. However, a cloud computing provider stores data for you without all the downsides. Cloud services are often a monthly expense, making budgeting easier. But it’s a manageable and predictable expense and in contrast to a physical server, costs much less overall, in general.
So, cloud computing helps small businesses operate cost efficiently, more effectively and easily by allowing remote access.
What types of cloud services do businesses use?
Cloud-computing has a wide range of services, such as accounting software, customer service tools and remote desktop hosting. Categorized into three groups, these services include: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS).
Infrastructure as a service
In-house web hosting servers, the physical hardware, are replace by IaaS. IaaS helps businesses take advantage of a range of configurations to handle different workload needs, by providing things like virtual servers or virtual machines. In this categories, two of the key players are Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
Platform as a service
Software developers are given access through this cloud service, to cloud-based tools like APIs, gateway software or web portals. Popular solutions in this category are services like Salesforce’s Lightning, the Google App Engine and AWS’ Elastic Beanstalk.
Software as a service
SaaS applications let workers collaborate on projects, download important files and work directly on specialized computer programs. Basically, SaaS gives users access to software over the internet. All accessible through computers, or mobile devices with an internet connection. Services like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace are well known in this category.
Certainly, most cloud services are categorized infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS).
How do cloud services store their data, and how secure are they?
Certainly, the security of your business files is of predominate importance. Cloud services store their data and host services in three common ways:
- hybrid cloud
If you choose a service whose storage model doesn’t align with the size of your business and its needs, Cloud services could potentially pose a security risk.
Public cloud: Built on an external platform run by the provider,is what’s called a public cloud service. Users get their own cloud within a shared infrastructure. The security and maintenance of your cloud system is taken care of by the cloud provider who offer system resources. Most importantly, a public cloud system is great opportunity for organizations to have flexibility, cost-reduction and the latest technology. As it’s managed by an outside provider who specialise in cloud service.
Private cloud: Built using your hardware and software,is the cloud platform, called private cloud service. This is ideal for businesses that want exclusive access, more flexibility and greater control over their cloud. As your private cloud is managed by your own internal IT team, or MSP (Managed Service Provider) But of course we understand this would be a more expensive option compared to the public cloud.
Hybrid cloud: A combination of both private and public clouds is called hybrid cloud. An organization’s own IT team manages part of the cloud in house, for the more sensitive information such as customer files, while the less-sensitive information is stored off-site with a third party.
It’s important to choose the cloud-storage service that’s right for you either public, private or hybrid clouds, ensuring that it aligns with the size and needs of your business.
What is the difference between cloud hosting and traditional web hosting?
Primarily, the difference between cloud hosting and traditional web hosting, is that cloud use virtual space that can be scaled up or down at a moment’s notice. Whereas traditional web hosting relies on your physical server space.
How dedicated or shared traditional hosting works
Traditional hosting is either by way of dedicated or shared option.
Dedicated hosting can be expensive, as it requires a business pay for an entire server that has its own amount of processing power, bandwidth, memory and hard drive space.
On the other hand, shared hosting companies share a single server. As a result, each user pays for storage space on that server and shares in the bandwidth. So it costs less than the dedicated option in comparison. But the downside of all the companies sharing the server bandwidth is that your website may end up being slow to load. Afterall you’re all supported by the same server. In addition, you could be charged extra if your website exceeds the shared service’s limitations.
How cloud-based web hosting works
So, whether you opt for the dedicated or shared option, traditional web hosting still relies on physical server space. Whereas cloud-based hosting carves out virtual server space for each user. Spread across multiple servers, services use a “pay-as-you-go” model, with the hosting bandwidth load. Downtime is rare since multiple servers handle each hosted site, with a massive power outage as the exception. In other words, you’re not affected by a high volume of visitors or if one website has a problem. Your service remains consistent, with no slow to load websites.
There are many pros and cons to the traditional hosting, dedicated and shared web hosting. The main one is that Dedicated hosting is more costly, while Shared hosting is cheaper, but your website may experience slowdowns.
How much does cloud computing cost?
Firstly, the cost depends on the type of cloud service you need. But keep in mind the cost of cloud computing varies quite a bit from service to service.
For example, Dropbox that is a Cloud storage and file-sharing service, start with free accounts. But if you need advanced features, paid plans start at $20 per user, per month.
Secondly, pricing also depends on the industry.
In addition, pricing also is calculated by the number of users, and how you will launch and distribute the software across the company.
Lastly, it depends on the type of technical-support options you decide on.
What are the drawbacks of cloud computing?
Just like any product, cloud computing has its drawbacks. Firstly, it requires the launch of new technology that maybe unfamiliar to your employees and there could be some resistance. Secondly, implementing anything new requires some sort of process. For example, the training of personnel and establishing an effective troubleshooting system, while Cloud computing launch is happening and afterwards.
Security is another concern when it comes to cloud computing. But no business is completely safe from a cyberattack. In other words, business owners want to know if their information is safe and secure when it’s stored in the cloud. Finding a reputable cloud service provider is the key, ask questions about their contingency plans in the event of a security breach. Most importantly, take steps to reinforce your own security.
How does data stay safe in the cloud?
Finding the right vendors and implementing technology that focuses on both identity verification and data encryption, is what Cloud safety is all about.
Before you sign up for services provided by a cloud computing vendor start by asking these 10 security questions:
- Who can see my information?
- Is my data located at multiple data centres in different locations so it is protected from regional attacks?
- What redundancies do you have in place to protect my data?
- What specific measures do you take to encrypt my data?
- How do you manage encryption keys?
- What happens and how will you restore my data if there is a crash or cyberattack?
- What security certifications do you have?
- Are you compliant with the most current security protocols?
- What can go wrong during implementation?
- Are you a reseller? If so, who is responsible for service and support?