Cloud Computing: A Guide for Small Businesses
Cloud computing was a major breakthrough in computer technology. It has enabled easy networking between devices and locations, has revolutionised the media and is brilliant for all types of communication. We use cloud computing services every day without really considering it, such as our email, music streaming services and more. So why is it so important for business and what do you need to do to set up your own cloud computing system? Let’s find out.
First up what is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is where data is stored in “the cloud” rather than taking up space on any single device. Instead this information is stored on vast networks of powerful computers and servers usually housed in remote locations, such as data centres or similar. Their locations are never advertised for security reasons and to us the end user, this is not important anyway because it might just as well be floating in the sky in a mighty cloud of data that we can call on at any time.
What is important is that all our information is available to us regardless of where we are, or which device we are using. If there is an internet connection, we can access everything we need via this vast network of remote servers, known as the cloud.
What do businesses use cloud computing for?
Cloud computing is becoming increasingly essential for business. This umbrella term can be used in the following ways:
Cloud hosting: This helps make streamlined communication possible. Email services, web based phone systems, applications and data storage all are stored in the cloud and can be accessed at a touch of a button.
Cloud backup: This keeps your system running regardless of times of high traffic or if you experience a cyber-attack. When you store your data on the cloud, rather than a physical server, it cannot be compromised by people hacking into your system.
Using Software as a Service (SaaS): Using cloud based software is far more cost effective than buying physical software for your business. When you subscribe to cloud software such as Microsoft Office 365, Quick Books online or Salesforce for example you can use the latest editions of these platforms without the need to upgrade or install them on each device.
So what are the benefits to switching to cloud computing?
Chances are that most of your business functionality is already stored in the Cloud because most of us use it on a daily basis. But if you are looking for specific reasons why you should actively switch to the cloud for your business, here are five great reasons
1. Data is always accessible. Unlike data stored on your own server, data stored on the cloud is accessible to everyone with the proper credentials; ideal for remote working from home or out in the field.
2. You can access all the programs from all devices. Again if your staff are working from home they can still access specialised software if it is stored on the cloud.
3. Maintains consistency and helps collaboration. With cloud computing, employees can collaborate on digital files meaning that all work is updated and you don’t get multiple versions of the same documents.
4. All data is backed up. Whether a employee loses a vital document or your system suffers a crash or cyber-attack, your data in the cloud is backed up and protected
5. The cloud saves you money. Why bother buying expensive software and setting up an office network system, when it can all be done for you from the cloud
So which types of cloud services are useful for businesses?
There is a wide range of cloud business services. These are classified into three main groups.
> IaaS: infrastructure as a service. This replaces physical hardware such as in house web hosting services.
> PaaS: platform as a service. Ideal for creating web portals, internet shopping apps and gateway software; your software developers are given access to web-based tools for all different types of development and innovation.
> SaaS: software as a service. This gives you access to software such as Microsoft office 365 without having to actually buy it and physically load it onto every computer on your business network.
Is cloud storage secure?
There are three types of cloud storage for business so it is important that you choose the best option for your needs.
Public cloud system. This option is managed and maintained by the cloud provider and is ideal for companies that want the latest technology. The technology has a shared infrastructure, with your private part of the cloud just part of their service.
Private cloud service. If you have a reason for maintaining everything in house and need the upmost in security a private cloud system is built using your own system and hardware. This cloud platform is maintained by your IT department and offers greater control and flexibility over your network.
Hybrid cloud service. This works for companies who need to keep some of the network , such as customers files in house but also want to store other information and services with a third party cloud provider.
Is Cloud Computing expensive?
Cloud computing services come with a range of options and capabilities so prices will depend on the service you choose. For example Dropbox which offers storage and file sharing has a free account option with business prices starting at around $20 per user per month.
However if you are looking to switch to cloud computing for your business, it makes sense to choose the best option that will suit the size and the form of your business. As with all internet based business use, there can be security issues so ensuring that you have a safe and reputable cloud provider is important. And it goes without saying that staff training is also crucial to safety, so making sure that everyone is aware of potential risks will help to keep your data safe.
If you like the sound of the ‘hands-off’ experience and having your IT and Cybersecurity taken care of by highly trained professionals, we would love to hear from you. Call our friendly team of experts on 0345 314 2001 for a relaxed chat about how we can make all this happen for you.
Alternatively, feel free to email us from our contact page here.
Our team is ready and waiting to help in any way they can.