Cloud computing is gaining in popularity, and can offer significant advantages to many businesses. But is cloud computing right for your business? To answer that question, we need to look at what cloud computing is, and the potential benefits and disadvantages to the model.What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a model in which your firm's software, processing power and data storage such as hosting your business blog are handled by an outside collection of servers. These servers handle the computing needs of many other businesses as well, so you are essentially sharing the cloud; you pay the vendor for a computing service rather than for the computers themselves. Employees and customers access the cloud online through their own computers or mobile devices. They only need a web browser to access the applications; the software and data are located within the cloud rather than on each individual device.
Reasons to Choose Cloud Computing
Cloud computing can be beneficial to your company for multiple reasons, including:
- Low start-up costs. Instead of buying the equipment to provide the computing power you need, a cloud allows you to rent time on existing servers. This lack of initial investment makes cloud computing services particularly attractive to start-ups or companies that are experiencing rapid growth.
- Efficiency and flexibility. Another factor that contributes to the cost-effectiveness of cloud computing is that it makes better use of computing resources, especially for companies that experience seasonal changes in demand. If you have a computer or server dedicated exclusively to your business, it must have the capability to handle your needs during the busiest of times--which means it will be larger than needed and have excess capacity the rest of the year. Within a cloud, you can utilize more server capacity when it is needed, but not pay for the excess capacity when it is not needed.
- Mobility. Your own computers can be smaller and more mobile, because they do not have to store data or run the programs themselves. Cloud computing therefore makes it easier to work outside the office on a laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Cloud computing is not necessarily ideal for everyone.
Perhaps the biggest objection to cloud computing has to do with control. You are handing over control of your data and processing to an outside company, and must trust them when it comes to security, data backups and legal compliance. And some high-profile cloud crashes that took many companies offline for a few hours have added to the uncertainty that some business owners feel about switching to a cloud-based model.
Deciding whether cloud computing is right for your business, therefore, has almost as much to do with the specifics of the cloud service itself as it does with the specifics of your own company. Turning to an outside consultant can be helpful, as they can recommend which service, if any, would make the most sense for your business.