Broadband internet access and the widespread availability of mobile devices make cloud computing a viable option for small businesses worldwide.
Cloud computing is a method of providing computing services over the internet. Web-based applications, data storage, processing, and other services are available to small businesses on demand.
Infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and software as a service are all examples of cloud computing services.
The advantages of cloud computing for small businesses include easily accessible data, automatic syncing, remote work facilitation, and simple backups.
Many businesses prefer the flexibility and convenience of cloud computing over traditional local hosting and on-premise software for data storage, processing, and collaboration.
Cloud computing allows you to access and store data and applications online rather than on a hard drive. Youre using cloud computing if your company uses Google Docs for editing and document collaboration, Dropbox or Google Drive for file storage, Slack for cross-team communications, or online CRM software to manage sales.
Working in the cloud provides numerous advantages for small businesses, including improved collaboration, easy access, and quick turnaround. The disadvantages of cloud computing include security concerns and fewer customization options. Well look at cloud computing, how it works, cloud services to think about, and the benefits of cloud computing for small businesses.
Cloud Computing: A Small Business Guide
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the internet-based on-demand delivery of computing services such as applications, data storage, and data processing. Cloud computing services are typically paid for on a pay-as-you-go basis, so you only pay for the applications and cloud services you use. This method lowers your companys operating costs and allows for flexible scaling.
Small business owners must be able to access data and applications from their computers, tablets, or mobile phones, whether in the office, out in the field, or on the road, in todays ever-changing business climate. Cloud computing allows for this anytime, anywhere access via an internet connection.
Even if youre unaware of it, youre probably using cloud computing. Behind the scenes, whether you use an online service like Gmail or Outlook 365 to send an email, collaborate on a document, store files, or stream a video, cloud computing makes it possible.
Here are some of the most common applications for cloud computing:
Cloud services ensure that your data is securely stored in an offsite cloud storage system, making it accessible from any internet-connected location or device. Cloud storage allows you to share files and sync files across devices securely. Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Drive are popular cloud storage services.
Failsafe solutions if your company suffers a server crash, a cyberattack, or other data loss. Storage, data synchronization and restoration, real-time backups, archiving, and high-level security are all features of the best cloud backup services. Many cloud storage services also offer cloud backup capabilities.
Cloud hosting services enable various types of information sharing, such as email, application hosting, web-based phone systems, and data storage. A cloud hosting service will host your companys website, manage databases, and store domain names. Because cloud hosting services are provided remotely, scaling to handle peak loads is simple.
Software as a service (SaaS) is a method of delivering applications via the cloud. Businesses can use SaaS solutions in a variety of operational areas. For example, you can use SaaS CRM software like Salesforce to manage sales, accounting software like QuickBooks Online to manage finances, and email marketing software to improve marketing communications.
The services provided by the cloud range from data storage to functional programs such as accounting software, customer service tools, and remote desktop hosting. These services are divided into three categories: infrastructure, platform, and software as a service.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) allows you to rent IT infrastructure from a cloud provider, such as servers, virtual machines, storage, and networks, on a pay-as-you-go basis. IaaS offerings enable small businesses to take advantage of configurations that can handle various workload requirements.
Platform as a service (PaaS) provides software developers with cloud-based tools such as APIs, gateway software, and web portals.
SaaS services provide users with online access to the software. SaaS applications can be accessed through a web browser, a desktop client, or an API that integrates with the users desktop or mobile operating system. Workers can use SaaS applications to collaborate on projects, download important files, and work directly on specialized computer programs. SaaS users must typically pay a monthly or annual subscription fee.
Three types of cloud services store data and host services: public, private, and hybrid cloud. If you choose a provider whose storage model does not match the size and needs of your business, cloud services may pose a security risk.
A public cloud service is built on an external platform provided by the provider. Users get their cloud within a shared structure with this offsite service. The cloud provider offers everything from system resources to security and maintenance for your cloud system. A public cloud system is an excellent choice for organizations seeking elasticity, cost-effectiveness, and cutting-edge technology because it is managed by an outside company specializing in cloud services for various customers.
A private cloud service is a cloud platform built within your companys walls using your hardware and software. This model is ideal for businesses that want exclusive access, more flexibility, and greater control because your internal IT team manages your private cloud. This, however, is a more expensive option.
A hybrid cloud combines private and public clouds. In a hybrid system, an organizations IT team manages a portion of the cloud in-house while the remainder is off-site. A hybrid cloud system is ideal for a company that wants to collect business data (such as customer files) in-house while storing less-sensitive data with a third party.
The use of business cloud computing is increasing. According to Foundrys 2020 cloud computing research, 92% of businesses use cloud-connected or cloud-run services. Furthermore, Flexera predicts that by 2022, two-thirds of SMB workloads will be in the cloud. Given that the pandemic made online work commonplace, the trend will likely continue.
By increasing productivity, improving collaboration, and encouraging innovation, cloud computing can help businesses save time and money. Here are some of the most significant advantages of using cloud services for your small business:
While purchasing and maintaining hardware and networking equipment takes time, expertise, and money, a cloud computing provider stores data for you without drawbacks. Furthermore, establishing business operations in the cloud requires a lower initial investment than establishing an in-house infrastructure and a dedicated IT team. A cloud setup allows you to be more cost-effective by only paying for your use. Prices for business-oriented cloud services continue to be a monthly or annual expense, but they are manageable and predictable.
Natural disasters, power surges, or hardware failure can all cause catastrophic data loss, destroying a business. When a company stores or backs up critical data, files, and applications in the cloud, the data is safe and accessible.
Businesses frequently rely on specialized software employees do not have on their computers. Users can access files and technical applications as if they were in the office using cloud computing. Since 1 in 3 remote workers will quit if required to return to the office full-time following a pandemic, cloud computings remote work benefits are significant.
You can easily adjust the number of users accessing cloud applications as your business grows; the same is true if you need to scale down. You only pay for what you use and never worry about running out of capacity or incurring unnecessary costs.
When multiple team members work on the same digital file, its easy to make mistakes. Because cloud-hosted files are stored in a centralized location, data is automatically synced across all devices, and users always have access to the most recent file version.
Businesses use cloud computing to access information from anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud computing stores data online rather than on your computer or a server in your office. Information is accessible through a central web-based hub, to which anyone with the necessary credentials has instant access from any location with an internet connection.
While we discussed potential security issues as a cloud computing disadvantage earlier, its critical to understand what can go wrong in a cloud computing setup.
Check Points 2022 Cloud Security Report states that incorrect cloud infrastructure setup, unauthorized access, and insecure APIs are among the most pressing cloud security challenges.
Consider these top cybersecurity risks if youre thinking about moving your operations to the cloud or implementing cloud services.
The cost of cloud computing varies greatly, primarily depending on the cloud service required. Here are some examples of typical costs:
- Dropbox and other cloud storage and file-sharing services offer free accounts, but paid plans with advanced features begin at $20 per user per month.
- Carbonite, a cloud backup, and recovery service, can cost $50 per month.
- SyncCore Cloud Services provides several cloud services. The company offers some free tiers (storage and time limits apply) while others are pay-as-you-go.
The industry also determines the cost of cloud-based software. Other pricing factors include the number of users, how the software will be launched and distributed throughout the organization, and priority tech support options.