Cloud computing serves as a fundamental IT infrastructure driving businesses all over the world. Rather than data residing on a local server, cloud-based computer lives in a remote location and is accessible from anywhere, expanding global business possibilities. Rather than a single device holding all the data and having to sit at that device to access information, the info is on a network of servers and accessible from any device, freeing up space for everyday processes.
Cloud-based services are on an upward trend — experts predict 83 percent of the workload of companies will be cloud-based by 2020. Even though you’ve likely heard of cloud computing and know the basics of how it works, you may not know the exact benefits to your business. Here are 10 of them.
1. Make Seamless Transfers
In the past, if you needed to set up a new device, there was a lengthy process of copying files and moving files to the new computer. With cloud computing, files reside in the cloud. Thus, moving to a new device is as simple as adding passwords and getting on the cloud. You may not even have to download files to the new device at all if you keep them on the remote server.
2. Save Money
No longer do companies have to invest in costly data centers for file storage and backups. Storing files on the cloud is faster, less expensive and puts the responsibility of backups and storage in the hands of a third-party company. Using shared management also saves on personnel costs, as companies no longer need an entire IT department — they hire one or two people for in-office technology and leave system management in the hands of the cloud computing company.
Uploading larger files to the cloud also saves space on desktop and laptops. Companies save money because they purchase computers with less storage space.
3. Upgrade Software Quickly
Many software providers, such as Adobe, now offer cloud-based software services. If you access their software via the cloud, you no longer have to invest in costly software disks and spend the time updating your systems. Instead, everything updates on the software company’s cloud and you access it when you’re ready to work on a document.
Users also have the option of downloading via the internet immediately rather than waiting for mail arrival of software.
4. Increase Scalability
If your business snowballs, scaling up is simple with cloud computing. Rather than investing in a costly data center equipment, companies pay for only the storage they need and adding additional storage capacity is easy.
5. Enhance Your Disaster Preparedness
One area you might not immediately think of as a benefit of cloud computing is business continuity. Storing essential files off-site also means you can recover those files should a disaster such as fire, flood or tornado take out your headquarters.
6. Improve Reliability
Most cloud-based services offer a 99.99 percent uptime guarantee. That equals about an hour of downtime per year, which is minimal — especially if the downtime occurs during non-peak hours for updates or integrations. There is a difference between 99 percent uptime, versus 99.9 percent and 99.99 percent. Look for a company offering the four nines — the difference between two nines and four nines is a day’s worth of downtime.
7. Collaborate Easier
Cloud computing offers an easier collaboration with partners. Open up access to specific files rather than your entire database and work directly with clients and business partners around the world. Because your data resides on the cloud, anyone with the proper permissions can easily access information from anywhere.
8. Save the Environment
If your company makes a commitment toward being greener, cloud computing makes sense. Rather than adding another computer data center of your own, you use one already in existence, reducing energy usage and waste from the manufacturing of technology. Using shared resources reduces your carbon footprint.
9. Better Security
After switching to the cloud, 94 percent of surveyed business owners said security improved. About 72 percent of U.S. businesses experienced some type of attack, and smaller companies are particularly at risk. Security for smaller businesses may not be as stringent as larger corporations. Using a cloud-based provider gives you access to the same protection the big guys use for a fraction of the price.
10. Knock Out Your Competition
About 77 percent of business owners feel cloud computing gives them an edge over the competition. As more and more technology plugs into the Internet of Things (IoT), being on the cloud becomes not just a convenience, but a necessity.
Cloud Computing Terms
If the benefits above convinced you to make the switch to cloud computing, here are some helpful terms:
- Cloud Backup: Refers to backing up data on a remote server
- Business Intelligence: A variety of tools that look at big data and put them into digestible reports and formats
- Computer Grids: A system of computers networked together for processing large chunks of data
- Hybrid Cloud: A combination of a private cloud service and a public cloud server — companies may have some information they want to share with the public and some information that is private
- SaaS: Stands for Software as a Service and means users access the software on the cloud rather than storing software on their devices
These are just a few terms helping newbies to cloud computing — dozens of additional terms apply to security and operational functions of cloud-based data storage, as well.
Best Cloud Computing Solutions
The big players in cloud computing include:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS): Amazon is one of the big players in cloud-based services, with about 55 percent of their profit coming from AWS. AWS offers a free tier with a 12-month trial of their services. If you need a bit more storage or features, their packages start as low as $3.50 per month.
- Microsoft Azure: Azure also offers a 12-month free trial of some essential services. Buy only the services you need as you need them in Azure’s scalable model. Prices start around $29 per month.
- Google Cloud: Google also offers cloud-based storage with a free trial. Prices vary widely depending upon which services you need and how much storage you need. Google has a unique structure that charges you for data for each day per GB of storage. If you no longer need some information, you can remove it and reduce your costs. They offer a pricing calculator that helps determine potential costs for their cloud services.
- pCloud: pCloud provides 2 GB of free cloud storage and reasonable lifetime storage rates, such as $175 for 500 GB for a lifetime.
- DropBox: If you need occasional backups and sharing capabilities, DropBox is an excellent option for getting started with cloud-based storage. An individual basic plan is free and comes with 2GB of storage and the ability to sync files and share folders and links. If you need more space, get one TB for only $9.99 per month.
Many individual hosting service providers also offer cloud-based services now. You should also check with your current website hosting company and see what solutions they provide.
Help Your Business Grow
Cloud computing offers an opportunity for growth over time. Plus, you’ll only pay for what you need when you need it. As you work with new contractors and clients, you’ll be able to pull in the best of the best. This allows them to work on your files from anywhere in the world. The cloud is the way of the future, so now is the time to make the switch if you haven’t already.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.