As a small business owner, one of the business IT options open to you is that of using cloud computing services. Thus, rather than storing your data locally in your business computers’ hard disks or in your local storage server, you can opt to store the data in the cloud. Similarly, rather than installing the various software applications you need on your business computers’ hard disks or on your local applications server (and accessing them from there), you can opt to be accessing the same applications on the cloud. Yet another area where cloud computing may be relevant is that of data and applications back-up. This means that rather than backing up your data and applications locally, you can opt to do the backup on the cloud. So the data and the applications may be stored locally, on your business computers’ hard disks or on your local servers, but with the backup being remote – on the cloud.
Why cloud computing makes sense for small business enterprises
Cloud computing makes a lot of sense for small business enterprises. This is to say that, contrary to the commonly-held view, cloud computing is not just for big businesses. Actually, it is the small business enterprises that stand to benefit a great deal from cloud computing. For one, through cloud computing, small businesses can get a chance to save considerable sums of money that they may otherwise have spent on IT-related issues. If, for instance, a business opts to use cloud-based storage, it is likely to save considerable sums of money that it could have otherwise have spent buying, installing, securing and otherwise maintaining local data storage facilities. True, the business will probably have to pay fees to the cloud storage service provider. But in the long run, the fees paid to the cloud storage service provider will tend to be significantly lower than what would otherwise have been spent on local storage.
Another reason as to why cloud computing makes sense for small business enterprises is in the fact that it enhances efficiency. Suppose, for instance, that a business opts to store its data on the cloud, rather than storing it in its computers’ hard disks or in its local servers. This means that the cloud-based data can be accessed by the owners and managers of the business from anywhere, and at anytime. Now this is different from the situation that would apply if the data was hosted in local computers: as the owners and managers of the business would only be able to access such data within the business’ computer network. When, thanks to cloud storage, the business data is accessible to the authorized people from anywhere, at any time, and through a wider variety of devices, it means that such data can be used (for decision-making purposes) better than would be the case if was hosted locally in the business’ computer hard disks or in the business’ data server.
Dispelling common myths about cloud computing
We have already touched on one of the most common myths about cloud computing: the myth that cloud computing is only for big businesses. The true position is that both small enterprises and big ones can benefit from cloud computing services. It is true that initially, one got the impression that cloud computing services were designed with only the needs of big businesses in mind. But nowadays, we have cloud-computing services that are designed specifically with the needs of small businesses in mind. In other words, we have decent cloud computing services that are targeted at small businesses.
Another common myth about cloud computing is that it is expensive. Nothing could be further from truth. It may come as a surprise for some to learn that there are actually some cloud computing services that are available for free! And where there are costs, the costs tend to be modest. This is where, for instance, a business may only have to pay $10 or $20, for cloud-based data storage, or to access a suite of applications through the cloud. This means that cloud computing is not really expensive. For any given service, when you consider what you have to pay for it on the cloud, and what you would otherwise have to pay to implement the same solution locally, you often realize that the cloud-based solution is more cost-effective.
Yet another common myth about cloud computing is that it is insecure. Now, of course, there are some genuine security concerns related to cloud computing. But these are not bigger than the security concerns associated with the traditional approach to computing. If anything, the cloud computing service providers tend to go to great lengths to guarantee the security of their platforms. Most of them go as far as establishing full-fledged cyber-security departments. Some of the cyber-security measures they are able to put in place would be very difficult for a small business owner to implement by himself.
Getting started with cloud computing
If you are convinced that you need to start using cloud computing services in your small business, the question that is likely to come up is as to how you can get started. As it turns out, the first step you need to take is that of analyzing your needs, so as to figure out the specific cloud-computing services you will be opting for. It may be a situation where you need to invest in cloud-based data storage. Or it may be a situation where you need to invest in cloud-based software applications: under the ‘software as a service’ or the ‘platform as a service’ model. Alternatively, we could be looking at a situation where you only need to opt for cloud-based data backup, or for cloud-based applications backup.
Having identified the specific cloud computing services you need to subscribe for, you need to go ahead and undertake a search for cloud-computing service providers who provide those particular services. You may need to compare the various cloud-computing service providers, to see which one offers the best deal.
After identifying the ideal cloud computing service provider to work with, you need to subscribe for that particular vendor’s cloud computing services. If the vendor offers a free trial or a demo, you may need to make use of it for a while, to see how good their cloud-computing services are, before subscribing fully. You may also need to train your staff on cloud-computing, and to manage any resistance you may encounter from staff who are used to the old way of doing things. Then, you can go ahead to subscribe fully to the cloud-computing services, and to start using them in your day to day business operations.