What exactly IS cloud computing? As I understand it and in it’s simplest terms, it’s remote software hosting. If you’ve created and stored a document or presentation using Google Docs, then you’ve been exposed to a version of “the cloud”.
Why is this important? As a SME (small/medium enterprise), why should you care? Well, to be honest – it kinda levels the playing field, making it so that the small guys can play with the big boys – at least when it comes to IT. By using remote software hosting/utilizing the cloud, SME’s can do things they couldn’t afford to do before – such as – allowing their employees & contractors to telecommute.
Allowing and encouraging telecommuting is just the beginning of the snowball effect that the cloud can bring. Telecommuting can lead to not only outsourcing your IT functions but now that your staff (employees & contractors) spend less time in the office, they can share space… if they share space, you need less space. Instead of providing 1 desk/1 office space per person, you may be able to cut back to 1 desk/1office space for every TWO or THREE staff members (referred to as “office hoteling”). So in addition to saving on the capital expenditures on IT… converting those to operating costs, you can also save on the overhead costs of office space, computers, telephones, etc. How big the snowball gets is up to you.
Enough about the other benefits…back to the cloud itself. Here are some IT benefits to The Cloud…
- Reduced Costs – instead of buying all the hardware/software yourself, you pay a provider incrementally (monthly, quarterly, yearly) – therefore lowering the “cost of entry”
- State of the Art Hardware/Off-Site Backup
- Increased Mobility – staff is no longer tied to the office or their desks
- Greater Flexibility & Security – SME businesses don’t necessarily have the most secure internal infrastructures when it comes to IT; with the use of the Cloud, these same businesses can reach and exceed compliance & industry security standards
- Automation & Shift IT Focus – Using the Cloud, the SME no longer has to focus on server updates, maintenance, backup issues or software updates.