Cloud ComputingHave you considered cloud computing yet? If not, it’s time you do. Cloud computing means fulfilling all your software and hardware needs through a third party provider. Here the software is provided over the internet, while the hardware is situated at a third-party data center. Embracing the cloud offers a number of advantages for small businesses.

The Advantages of Turning to the Cloud

Cloud computing eliminates the need to buy expensive servers and software licenses. This results in a huge drop in the cost of IT resources. Cloud computing also means almost zero maintenance cost. The responsibility of software and hardware maintenance lies entirely on the third party IT provider. This means that you can quit worrying about software updates or replacements and server issues. The cloud provider takes care of all the backend maintenance tasks.

Apart from significant IT savings, cloud services also offer other benefits. These include more floor space that would otherwise be taken up by onsite servers and a drop in electricity cost. Cloud computing packages are much more cost-effective than contracting an IT vender for onsite software and server service or hiring someone for the same.

Cloud Computing – The Differentiating Factors

A number of factors differentiate cloud computing from on-premise IT solutions. Cloud is available in private and public flavors. These can be considered as the cloud equivalent of private intranets and the Internet. Public cloud includes e-mail and other free services like those provided by Google. Private cloud functions in a similar fashion, but secure network connections are used to access resources.

Another major difference between cloud and onsite IT solution is that the former is on-demand or subscription based. Finally, cloud computing is a managed service. This means that you need not worry about any backend or maintenance tasks.

Why are Small Businesses Reluctant to Embrace the Cloud?

In spite of all the benefits offered by the cloud, businesses are hesitant to embrace it because of two key concerns. The first concern is that compared to onsite tools, cloud applications may turn out to be less reliable although 99.9% uptime is guaranteed my most cloud providers. In the rare case of cloud services outage, most providers offer additional service time as compensation.

Another major concern about cloud computing is that the change will confuse employees. Employees are used to a certain user experience and interface, and the decrease in productivity while employees get familiar with the new interface is worrisome for businesses. The bargain seems even more unappealing, if you are replacing onsite enterprise solutions with cloud services that are based on data centers and software designed mainly for consumers rather than businesses.

Previously this was a valid concern, but now powerful cloud solutions designed specifically for the business market are available. These services offer the same enterprise-class business functionalities that are provided by onsite solutions. With a lot to gain and almost nothing to lose, cloud computing is something that every small business needs to seriously consider.