Cloud computing may sound futuristic or it may seem like “the next big thing,” but there’s a good chance that most of the software applications you use every day are SaaS applications – or “software as a service.” This isn’t limited to programs; it can include things like Google and Facebook or business tools like Salesforce or SurveyMonkey.
SaaS applications are meant to be used without being installed on your server or PC – and without sacrificing functionality. Data and software are stored offsite in a highly secure, high-availability “utility” company that has far more power and resources than a small business could ever logically have onsite.
This means that small businesses can now host one or more of their applications, data, e-mail and other functions “in the cloud” instead of purchasing and maintaining a server or writing big checks for expensive software. With devices getting cheaper and Internet connectivity exploding, cloud computing is suddenly a very smart, viable option for small business owners.
The benefits of cloud computing can be substantial for businesses:
Scale and Cost – Instead of paying for the expensive program and licensing upfront, you would purchase access and licenses based on demand and typically pay on a billing cycle. Many cloud computing applications are free and those that do have a cost are often a fraction of the price you would pay for something comparable. Since you only need an Internet connection to use SaaS, employees all across the world can access their tools.
Choice and Speed – SaaS applications often offer different packages and pricepoints based on what features and amount of licenses you need. Plus, your businesses’ overall productivity can be improved with better accessibility and the ability to streamline processes. You also don’t have to worry about expensive hardware to increase storage or upgrade your equipment to stay compatible – the companies providing your cloud computing solution front those costs. You may only have to pay a little more to increase the amount of storage you’re allowed, should you need more space.
Change Management – Changes in your network, processes, devices, or employees take less time to implement. Employees can be added or removed easily, new devices don’t require multiple lengthy program installations, and mobile devices can better utilize their accessibility.
Developing Technology – Cloud computing has been gaining an increasing amount of traction as a solution that satisfies both providers and consumers. It’s an investment that won’t fizzle out in a year or two. It’s also been around long enough that many of the stumbling blocks or obstacles that new technologies face have already been overcome.
Despite the benefits, it’s NOT right for every company. There are some drawbacks to cloud computing, which may or may not be applicable to your business, such as reduced security, locked-in contracts, less control, and reliability. Some applications are better left as programs to be accessed locally and some functions, like working with large graphic files, can be much slower through the cloud. However, the effectiveness of cloud computing in your business is highly dependent on your Internet connection: without a commercial-grade connection, you’ll be looking at persistent slowness, time-outs, and frustration.
However, in almost every case, parts of your computer network or daily functions can easily be put in the cloud to save you money, give you better service, and let you enjoy those other benefits like increased productivity.
Before you donate your server and sign up for Google Apps or Office 365, it’s important you talk to someone who can honestly assess your unique situation and tell you the pros and cons of making the switch to cloud computing.
We offer a free, no-obligation assessment of your network and systems to help you review your cloud computing services options. Just fill in the form below or give us a call at (734) 457-5000.