Should you move your small business to a cloud computing platform?
Cloud computing centralizes your software and data on an Internet platform rather than on your desktop, laptop or on a server. Since the users will be sharing storage space, bandwidth, memory, software and processing power, you can amalgamate these functionalities and have one good system rather than furnishing all your staff members with powerful PCs or laptops replete with software and security packages. This holds many advantages for the small business owner:
- Software tools are accessed online and don’t have to be installed on each computer. This means a reduction in software costs and IT department calls to install or maintain software on each and every device. You can even rent software rather than buying expensive packages upfront.
- Massive savings on IT costs. Cloud hosting companies automatically load updates and patches and maintain your software and data. Your IT costs are reduced and the hosting company provides all your support, negating the need for an on-site IT department or specialist.
- You save on hardware costs as expensive servers and data storage devices become a thing of the past.
- Increased security: Anti-virus software, firewalls and spam protection is available on cloud at a fraction of the cost that a small business would have to pay independently for the same level of protection.
- No unforeseen expenses: A service contract with your cloud provider covers all the IT maintenance and troubleshooting you need in a month. This makes for predictable monthly expenses as you pay a fixed monthly fee.
- Broader telecommuting possibilities: Being able to access your information and software enables employees to work from home or on their own personal devices. This means no late nights at the office which improves employee satisfaction and increases off-site work options.
- Great opportunity for new businesses: New businesses have a lower initial outlay and faster deployment. Since cloud is location and device independent, you don’t even have to have your office up and running to start making money.
Not everything about the cloud is silver lining. Unscheduled downtime will prevent you from accessing your data or using software that may be integral to the functioning of your business. Instead of having other computers which can be utilized to keep business ticking over, you are completely dependent on the availability of your cloud provider.
You must have sufficient security protocols in place to ensure the safety of your data. Establish policies on security for employees who work off site or use their own devices to access data and software. If security policies are in place, your data should be safe.