Cloud Computing is possibly one of the most misunderstood technologies on the market today, and also one of the most useful for small and mid-sized businesses. But all too often the term is used incorrectly, to describe anything from social media to online games. So before we identify three key benefits of cloud computing, we need to ask ourselves the most basic question: what is cloud computing?
“The network is the computer,” John Gage and Billy Joy of Sun Microsystems famously said in 1984. Cloud computing is a method of outsourcing the processing power, storage space, and software needed to fulfill certain functions. These functions, instead of being fulfilled by your computer/server, are instead handled by a 3rdparty network of computers, often called a “cloud.” Common cloud technology applications are programs like Google Documents and Dropbox, as well as services like Amazon S3.
So what are the benefits of cloud computing to businesses?
1: The most obvious benefit is that, with cloud computing, you no longer need the latest hardware and equipment. If you’re using an established company for your cloud storage, it is a given they will have the latest hardware optimized for your experience. This is extremely helpful if you don’t want to spend the money to purchase high-end servers for your own business, but still want the benefits that would bring you.
2: When you’re using cloud computing your data is always backed up. How many times has a computer crash, a hard drive failure, or even a rare case of a fire ruined your work? With cloud computing, your data is always backed up, 24/7. Did your computer crash? No problem, just turn it back on and continue working where you left off. Cloud computing gives you one thing that traditional hardware doesn’t, complete protection from data loss. If every one of a business’ employees utilizes this feature, it can save a great deal of time, frustration, and money.
3: Finally, the last and arguably most important benefit of cloud computing is the ability to share your work with anyone in the world at any time. A document uploaded to a cloud-based system no longer exists solely in a physical location, but on the internet, where it can be accessed by all the relevant people. In essence, cloud computing is the ideal collaboration tool. It doesn’t matter if your coworker is in Hawaii and you in Paris: you can both work on the same thing at the same time.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems in the world of cloud computing. “Clouds” shouldn’t fail or go offline, yet they sometimes do. Pure cloud-based software like Google Docs is not as fast or reliable as traditional programs like Microsoft Word. Business owners also have to trust their data to a third party. So it can be improved. But businesses can undoubtedly boost efficiency if they take advantage of cloud technology. Cloud computing is not a passing phenomenon, but instead, like the invention of the internet itself, an innovation that will change the way companies do business internally and externally.
You can also take a look at how cloud technology can make your life easier if you’re using online order fulfillment.