Unfortunately, “the cloud” has become something of a marketing buzzword in recent years. This has only led to a great deal of confusion regarding exactly what it is, what it does and (most importantly) why you should care in the first place. Is the cloud a trend that will soon disappear like so many others before it? Is the cloud just something for personal users to make sure that they always have access to their favorite songs everywhere that has no implications for the world of business? Is the cloud truly the savior of businesses in all industries like some people would have you believe?
In truth, the cloud has a number of important implications that small business owners in particular cannot afford to ignore. The key to understanding these benefits and leveraging them to your advantage, however, requires you to dive deeper into the subject than you likely have in the past.
We have jumped into the cloud for you to help you understand the benefits to your business. Our goal is to always share helpful information to make your business great.
What is “The Cloud?”
At its core, “the cloud” is a term that is used to describe a type of Internet computing or “on-demand computing” that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It began to permeate the lives of both personal and business users in the form of cloud-based storage. Instead of saving a file to a hard drive on a computer, you essentially saved it to the Internet instead (or rather, to a hard drive that was connected to the Internet that you could remotely access).
In recent years, however, it has evolved into so much more. “Software as a service” allows for businesses to serve up mission-critical applications in an on-demand capacity over the Internet, only paying for the resources they need and eliminating the requirement of purchasing a new computer every three years just to keep up with technical specifications. Even “security as a service” allows businesses to not only have access to proactive security and network monitoring capabilities, but to glean valuable insight into emerging trends and patterns to help identify small issues before they become much larger (and more expensive ones) down the road.
Make no mistake about it: the cloud isn’t just changing the way businesses operate. It’s changing them for all time and for the better.
The Power of Working Remotely
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits that the cloud brings to the table has to do with completely eliminating two of the most significant challenges that small businesses face on a regular basis: geography and Mother Nature.
If you live in an area with all four seasons, you’re no doubt experienced with sudden snowstorms that crop up without warning. You’ve got major work that needs to be done in the office, but the problem is now that your employees can’t actually get there – at least not with three feet of snow on the ground that is only getting deeper by the hour. Now, you have to lose an entire day’s worth of work due to the winter weather, creating a snowball effect (no pun intended) that can negatively affect every one of your deadlines for the next few weeks.
With the cloud and concepts like “software-as-a-service,” employees can be just as productive at home as they can be in the office – if not more so. Software is served up via the Internet, completely eliminating its dependence on physical hardware. Your employees can log into a remote desktop interface and have access to every last kilobyte of data that they would if they were actually sitting at their desk, but they’re doing it from the comfort of their own home. Your employees may grumble that the cloud has shattered the concept of a “snow day” for all time, but your clients will absolutely thank you.
This idea extends to other areas, as well. Say you’re halfway around the world on vacation and your team back home run into an issue that only you can solve. You’re thousands of miles away – what can you possibly do before you get back to the office? The answer is “anything you want.”
When documents and other mission-critical files are stored in the cloud, they’re accessible via any computer or mobile device in the world with an active Internet connection. You can hop on your iPhone, make a few key adjustments to that file and those changes are instantly available to everyone in your office. It really is that simple when you’re talking about a concept as powerful as cloud computing.
Backup and Disaster Recovery
Another one of the most significant benefits that cloud computing brings to the table for businesses has to do with backup and disaster recovery. Anyone who has been a business professional long enough can tell you that something going wrong is not a question of “if,” but “when.” You back up all of the important files on your server not only daily, but hourly, making sure that you can easily recover in the event that something goes wrong.
However, you backup your files to a server stored on your business’ property and unfortunately, your business just burned to the ground. You’ve just lost access to all of those backups and the important, business-critical information they contained. Your entire enterprise is done for, right?
Not if you had embraced the cloud, it’s not.
The cloud as a concept makes backup and disaster recovery not only easier than ever before, but more efficient. All of your important files and other documents are always stored in a secure, third-party location that is AWAY from your physical business infrastructure. Oftentimes, cloud-based service providers store redundant backups in multiple locations to prevent a failing data center from causing any type of issue whatsoever.
Why is all of this important to you as a business?
With the cloud, someone could walk into your office and steal every last hard drive and it wouldn’t matter – you can be back up and running without skipping a beat in no-time at all. Are you interested in learning more about managed backups? Lets us help you build a great business. Contact us today!