Cloud computing is the fastest growing IT sector in the world, and some trend watchers predict that within a decade or so, businesses without a cloud computing strategy may as well have no Internet presence at all. It may seem that the solutions offered by cloud computing providers are the province of large enterprises with heavy data loads and a large, far-flung workforce — but that’s no longer the case. Today, the tools and services provided by a long and growing list of providers are offering small businesses the resources they need to expand their reach in a global marketplace. With innovative cloud technology, unlimited scalability, and constant access to apps and data, the cloud allows small businesses in all sectors to save money and resources, support constant connectivity and collaboration, and keep data secure and accessible.
Cloud Computing Advantages for Small Businesses
Small businesses and startups often face a number of challenges that may not affect larger companies in their industry. With limited funds and highly localized operations, these businesses may not be able to budget for an expanded IT staff, current software, and the hardware required to run it. Other expenditures can include time and resources spent on staff training and regular updates to both software and hardware.
When computing operations are localized, networking and collaboration become burdensome and time consuming, and small companies are less able to access the resources of a global workforce of independent contractors to take care of intermittent or project-related staff needs, which can impact both productivity and competitiveness. And while a company website can provide a portal for interacting with both business partners and consumers, it may not have the tools for round-the-clock responsiveness and access to all the company’s resources, both in terms of data and personnel.
Taking some or all of a company’s computing needs to the cloud can solve those problems, save money and boost productivity — and help to save the environment at the same time. With numerous cloud service options and pricing plans to choose from, there’s a cloud — or clouds — to meet the needs of just about every small business.
The Cloud Saves Money and Resources
“Cloud computing” is a catchall phrase for a variety of remote computing models that allow users to store data and applications on remote servers. These servers are owned and maintained by a growing list of cloud service providers, who offer varying combinations of services and storage models to meet the unique needs of individual users. In this way, cloud computing makes it possible to eliminate many on-site resources and gain new, cloud-based ones for greater economy and efficiency.
Moving a company’s data and other computing functions to the cloud greatly reduces the need to buy and install new hardware and software — and maintain it. Those needs are provided for by the cloud computing service. And since server maintenance is in the hands of the cloud host, a small business might simply need basic computer equipment and mobile devices to allow its staff to connect with the cloud and access all the necessary functions there. That also eliminates the need to purchase and install upgrades of existing software and to update obsolete hardware in order to run it.
Cloud-based applications are designed to be user friendly and readily accessible, virtually eliminating the need for a dedicated IT staff on-site to manage computing services. Cloud computing offers round-the-clock access to a company’s account and the provider’s support staff, who can help resolve problems at any time.
The cloud also offers access to the latest in applications and other innovative technology. Since these are provided by the cloud host, they can be constantly updated as needed, giving a small business user access to a wide range of tools for productivity, data management, and other needs at little or no cost, as part of the overall hosting package.
The Cloud Offers Flexibility and Scalability
Cloud service options range from basic public cloud packages to fully managed custom cloud solutions designed to meet specific needs, and these can be scaled to meet a company’s changing priorities and ongoing growth.
Options include the public cloud, a low-cost solution that allows many users to share the same servers provided by the remote host; private clouds dedicated to just one user; and hybrid- or multi-cloud options that can be a combination of cloud and local computing, or a group of cloud services dedicated to supporting different functions.
As a business grows, users can scale their cloud service plans to include more storage, more applications, and more services provided by the host. That might include opting for a private- or multi-cloud solution to meet evolving needs.
Most cloud services offer a menu of “pay as you go” services, so that users can change plans or add new functions as needed, without the commitment and expense of buying these services outright. And since plans can be upgraded or downgraded as needed, users pay only for the services they need at any particular time.
The Cloud Supports Collaboration
Small businesses on a budget may need to rely on an array of freelancers, independent contractors, and collaboration with a remote workforce to save money and time. Cloud services make it possible to collaborate in real time with constant access to data and applications. This allows collaborators to smoothly work on projects, conduct meetings and workshops, and share and edit documents. Any user with the appropriate permissions and a connected device can access the needed data and resources at any time, making it possible to collaborate, network, and create across borders and time zones — keeping a far flung workforce united and connected at all times.
The Cloud is Environmentally Friendly
Local computing networks consume significant physical resources and energy, and that can leave a sizable carbon footprint. But cloud computing eases the energy expenditures of a company’s on-site functions. Because computing functions are handled remotely, that eliminates the need to dispose of outdated hardware, or to use large amounts of paper and other physical products to manage day-to-day computing functions.
For those reasons, cloud services are not only more economical and convenient for most businesses, they are also more environmentally friendly, conserving both physical and energy resources for lower costs and a reduced impact on the earth.
The Cloud Protects Data
Storing a company’s data in the cloud can protect it against accidental loss and malicious activity as well as from events such as fire, floods, and earthquakes. Cloud storage also allows users the protection of a cloud provider’s own systems for preventing cybercrime and other security threats. Although users still need to implement their own protections, such as managing passwords and permissions, migrating data to the cloud protects sensitive information from physical damage, human error, and cyberthreats with resources that are beyond the scope of measures that can be taken on local networks.
Should your small business be in the cloud? With economical, scalable solutions for every stage of a company’s growth and the most innovative tools for collaboration and security, migrating your company’s data to the cloud can save money, expand your reach in a rapidly growing global marketplace, and help preserve the environment. Cloud services have drawbacks and risks of their own, but taking your business to the cloud can benefit not only your brand, but also the bottom line.
iNSYNQ offers elegant, customized cloud solutions with the digital experiences your customers expect — and the mobility and control you want. To see what iNSYNQ can do for you and your business, contact us at 866-206-1781.
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