Cloud computing is one of the fastest growing technologies and is steadily gaining popularity, especially amongst small and medium sized businesses. Moving to the cloud has its fair share of advantages, more so for businesses that cannot afford to spend huge amounts on hardware infrastructure. Applications and services are being provided through the cloud today on a pay-as-you-go basis, which offers cost saving and scalability.
As the number of essential business services and software tools, operating in the cloud continues to increase, it often makes more sense for businesses to invest in cloud resources rather than traditional IT solutions. The benefits of cloud computing, as highlighted below, far outweigh the time and effort invested in the process of moving your business to the cloud platform.
Less Cap-ex Or Infrastructure Cost
Cloud computing offers raw processing power, storage space and other computing resources without the need for heavy on-site infrastructure. You do not need to buy any additional equipment to enable cloud-based services on your already existing IT infrastructure. The client software provided by the cloud service provider enables your computer systems to securely connect to the cloud platform and use its resources.
Scalability And Flexibility
Easy scalability is a highly attractive option for businesses that have dynamic computing needs. One of the most important features of cloud computing in this regard is that you can buy additional data storage or processing power anytime you need it. Some cloud providers also offer pay-as-you-use models, which allow you to only pay for the resources used. Installing software and applications is a lot easier since most of the technical work is handled by the support team of the cloud service provider.
Remote Data Access and Management
Remote access to your data is possible because of the presence of your business cloud on the internet. You will be able to access your cloud data wherever an internet connection is present and the platform that is used to access the cloud service is supported by your provider. Essentially, all your employees can be authenticated from a remote location and can be provided access to software tools and data required to carry out their work. With this, you can also enable your clients to easily connect to your business on the internet and check required information such as client specific project/progress reports.
With many efficient collaboration tools available on cloud you can easily manage remote teams for your business.
Less Maintenance Cost
With cloud services, investing in hardware infrastructure is no longer required, as cloud enables you to get rid of expensive hardware like servers and network devices. This results in less hardware maintenance costs. It also eliminates the need for maintenance staff to handle hardware related problems. Furthermore, software updates and server maintenance are taken care of by the cloud service provider, which significantly reduces the number of in- house IT resources.
Security And Data Redundancy
The majority of private cloud-based service providers offer several layers of security. They encrypt your data to prevent intruders from gaining access to it. Some also provide data redundancy by storing multiple copies of your data. As a result, even if a particular server used for your business is compromised, the data can be recovered and the effect of the server crash on your business can be minimized.
You Can Focus On Core Business
Building software is not everyone’s core business. If your business is not primarily about developing or building software you may not want to focus on it. Simply use a cloud based provider for getting things done and worry about your core business instead of automation and technology.
Apps You Should Have In The Cloud
Previously, businesses spent huge money and time on implementation, maintenance and upgrade of software applications, which did not add any value to the bottom line. Businesses require focusing on the core processes, and managing software has been a time consuming task. Management of voluminous data and information, which is processed, stored and analyzed regulatory takes a good time and less, is achieved through the software implementation projects or in-house software developments. Moreover, changes and upgrade in software, further, disrupts the regular business processes.
Some apps which are must have in Cloud are –
Hosting your business website can be done by buying own servers and hardware, however it is probably worst way to manage your own website. There are many free and cheap options available for hosting website with least maintenance.
Payroll management is a need almost every company will required. Here are some options.
- Workday PayrollWorkday Payroll Services are suitable cloud based apps, designed for small and medium sized organisations. The Apps offer streamlined payroll operations and time saving year-end tax statements, ultimately, reducing the efforts on filing the tax updates.
- ADP Payroll ServicesADP offers provisions of multiple payroll inputs and payment options.
Project Task And Documentation Management
Cloud makes it easy to share documents, secure sharing online and handle documentations. Cloud allows easy storage with teams working from different countries. The main features are collaborative project management, subversions defect tracking, collaboration with wiki , file sharing , multiple project setup and collaboration with partners. Cloud based project management provides a cost effective solution for individual and team management. Online project management provides easy and effective task and documentation management.
- Best Cloud Based Collaboration SoftwareWe have compiled a big list of cloud based collaboration software that can be used to manage remote teams.
Every business application needs to be integrated with a payment gateway, which eases the process of sending and receiving payment, or making online monetary transaction. The payment gateways can be used for collecting donations or registration fees. Some popular payment processing platforms, which can be used for recurring monetary transactions and billing, are listed below.
- PaypalWorlds most popular payment gateway. You can accept all major credit cards really easily.
- Google WalletPayment gateway by Google
- Alternatives To Paypal Search Engine Journal lists down the top 12 alternatives to paypal.
Email & Chat Service
Email and chat services provide users the access to crucial information through cloud. Communication between employees and with the team members, or with the marketing representatives in the field, can be made easy through these apps. The emails are not stored in local machine; instead, it is hosted on Google or Microsoft service. Microsoft cloud and Gmail offer two viable solutions for enterprise email market.
- Google Apps Google Apps is highly Reliable, and web-based enterprise tools for any business. Includes email, chat and many more tools at really low price.
- Microsoft Cloud Microsoft provides plenty of cloud based options including office tools and application hosting.
- MailChimp For Email Marketing Mailchimp is a simple and cheap option for email marketing for small businesses. Its free for limited number of contacts and a small price for premium features.
Customer Relationship Management System
CRM based on cloud computing easily handles the business operations through innovative methodologies, which involves the use of collaborative, mobile and popular consumer based apps such as twitter and Facebook . The application provides easy access through mobile or online methodology, or devices, which is integrated with Microsoft Office and other tools. Managers can keep records of sales representative activities and these applications offer numerous customisation features. Below are some leading CRM solution on cloud.
- Salesforce The leading CRM solution on web. The salesforce emerged as a CRM solution than became a leading provider of enterprise application cloud based platform where many enterprise applications are developed by various providers.
- SugarCRM Best option for small businesses since it has a open source version that can be self hosted. Also comes with cloud based option with cheap price options.
The management of enterprise content is an expensive and time taking task, which has been simplified through the ECM solution, which involves the integration of database service, operating system and virtualization of infrastructure, which provides access to administration security , improves scalability , upgrades system and conducts disaster planning . The content management system involves a third party application, application integration, support, recruiting and various other services.
- Google Drive Easily share files on web also available on google apps. Supports all major mobile platforms including iOS and Android.
- Box Best way to share files on web. Supports all major mobile platforms including iOS and Android
- Microsoft Onedrive File sharing and storage alternative by Microsoft.
- EMC Managed Services : Documentum EMC Documentum is one of leading content management system that is available for businesses.
Intranet, Blogs Wikis, Collaboration Tools
Certain cloud apps provide internet, blog wikis and other collaboration tools for faster digital communication through a secure and unified environment, which provides many useful features to improve interaction with customers and business partners.
- Only Office A comprehensive collaboration solution for teams.
- Jive Cloud Solution Cloud based solutions for Jive software are feature rich .
- Confluence Confluence is a comprehensive wiki like platform for your enterprise documentation.
Things To Watch Before Moving To Cloud
Although cloud computing has all the above mentioned advantages, businesses need to evaluate it in detail before investing in this technology. There are several factors to consider before a business chooses to move to the cloud and select a cloud service provider. Some of these factors include:
Support: The cloud service provider must offer prompt support to its customers. A cloud service provider should have robust technical staff and support teams that are readily available in case of a problem. This will help reduce business downtime and improve customer satisfaction levels.
Security: The location of the servers and the level of data protection offered by the provider is an important factor to consider before signing up with a cloud provider.
Credibility: It is advisable to make sure that your service provider owns the servers and is not merely reselling the cloud resources purchased from another vendor.
Contract terms: Some cloud service providers try to bind customers through vendor lock in, where it becomes extremely difficult to move to another cloud provider. It is recommended to carefully review your cloud provider’s contract terms which specify vendor lock in. It is further recommended to have a backup of your data at a secondary location or locally on your hardware should you need to switch providers. This will make the shift easier.
Hire a Cloud Expert: Moving to cloud-based services requires existing business critical data and resources to be moved to the cloud. It is therefore an important decision and should never be implemented without a strategy. , All business data usually does not need to be moved to the cloud simultaneously and the transition to cloud can most times be done in a phased manner. To assist with a cloud strategy and the transition, many businesses find it helpful to seek the guidance of a technology consulting firm to help chart out a data migration plan and clearly map cloud resource requirements. A consulting firm can also help you select the best cloud service plan in accordance with for your business needs to ensure your shift to the cloud is successful.
10 More Reasons To Keep Your Documents In Cloud
Here are some benefits of keeping your documents in cloud.
Share Your Documents More Easily
You are able to put them on what is technically a remote server. This means that you may (in many cases) grant access to certain files via certain passwords. For example, if you have files that you want to share with a client then give that client a password and a username and he or she may access the files at will. You may also update and add to the files, at which point your client will receive the updates the second they are loaded.
Share Your Files More Efficiently
This is especially true of larger files. The larger ones are harder to share via email because the download and upload speeds are bad, and the connection is often unreliable. This will mean that you or the recipient may have to make repeated attempts to upload or download respectively (which is inefficient). With cloud computing you will find that this is not a problem.
Share Your Files Between A Larger Numbers Of People
You do not just have to share files with a client. You may grant access to a whole team of people in the same way that you would grant access to a single person. You may even make it so that the other people can add notes to the files or give their opinions. It is even possible to set up projects where all parties may add to and remove from the files on the cloud.
Create Access And Permissions For Your Files
You may have access to every file on you cloud server, but that does not mean that you have to grant all access to all files to all people. You may create accounts and then grant permissions to each account so that only certain people may see certain files.
Synchronize Your Files Between Devices
You do not need to carry a flash drive around with you, as you may synchronize your files via the cloud. For example, if you save things on the cloud then you may access them from any Internet ready desktop computer or mobile device (if you have the appropriate apps or connection portal).
Use Cloud Services/tools And Save Directly On Your Cloud
When you use the tools/services available on the cloud, you need not save them locally. You may save them on the cloud directly. This means there is less downloading, it is quicker, and the data, media or file is then available for anyone you have granted cloud access to.
Back Up Your Files On The Cloud
You may have important files and documents that you want to back up. You may do this with the cloud, by simply copying your files onto a secure cloud server. You may also synchronize your new files and new updates so that you do not need to keep doing mass updates when you want to backup your files.
Back Up Your Entire Hard Drive On The Cloud
It is possible to back up your entire local hard drive on the cloud. This also may be done in a way that synchronizes your most current hard drive updates with the data on the cloud. You may save things such as files, software and settings so that if you have to get rid of your computer or if it is damaged, you may replace the computer or format it and then restore it to how it used to be.
A Whole Team May Stay Abreast Of Project Developments
It is possible to set up whole projects and then host them on a cloud server. This is going to mean that your entire staff may see the project. This is good for organizing teams, disseminating project information and keeping other people up to date on how the project is coming along.
A Whole Team May Add To And Update A Project
It is possible to set up projects that not only you may access. It is possible to set up team projects on the cloud where other people may even add to the project and update it. You may use it to track their project status by asking them to post daily updates on their projects, or even to post daily updates to the files and content you have loaded onto the cloud service.
Hope you found this article useful. Can you think of a business function that can be moved to cloud?
Cindy Bates works as a freelance writer and editor at A-Writer. She used to write articles and share her knowledge and experience in educational sphere.