Posted on: 27 April 2015
Cloud computing is being adopted at an ever accelerating pace, and for good reason. There are a host of advantages for all sorts of businesses.
Easier on the bank balance
As businesses that use cloud computing don’t have to buy lots of software and house servers on their premises, the most obvious advantage is the reduction in the cost of running and managing your IT. This extends to how you pay for the service too, which has a positive impact on your cashflow.
“Cloud computing offers significant opportunities for innovation and cost savings,” says Edgar Whitley at the LSE. “Rather than devoting scarce resources to managing local computing technology, it is possible to purchase these services as cloud resources, typically on a “pay-as-you-drink” basis. This means that computing services can be paid for from operational rather than capital expenditure.”
Alex Hilton from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) agrees. “Cloud storage tends to be significantly less expensive than traditional on-premises solutions, metered out on a pay-per-use basis,” he says. “In addition, it’s highly flexible and scalable. Services can be scaled to meet data and storage requirements, meaning that customers don’t have to pay for redundant bandwidth when it’s not needed.”
Supporting faster innovation
Cloud computing is also enabling small businesses to find, buy, install and use technology much faster than in the past. As Edgar Whitley at LSE explains, “this transforms the risk profile for innovation because all of a sudden experimentation is a realistic option.”
“Previously,” says Edgar, “if you wanted to experiment with, for example, offering video streaming services as part of your support offering, you would have to invest in a specialist web streaming server. This would have meant your IT department spending time researching the best available server, purchasing the hardware (perhaps with a ten day lead time), installing the hardware and necessary software (including inevitable updates and security patches) and then implementing the experimental video streaming services.
“All this would have had to come out of your capital expenditure budget and be depreciated over, say, a three year period.
“In contrast, with cloud computing you can sign up for such a service virtually instantaneously (remember to use the company credit card rather than a personal one to ensure that the company retains access to the data held by the cloud provider) and start experimenting with the service very soon thereafter.
“If the experiment turns out to be unsuccessful, then you simply don't renew the contract with the cloud provider.”
Other advantages of cloud computing
Cloud computing suits modern, mobile and connected businesses that require flexibility when it comes to software accessibility and data sharing. The industry has moved on in the last few years to provide better data integrity and security for anyone storing information in the cloud.
Eleven advantages of cloud computing
- Installing software is done by your provider.
- Updates are done online – you don’t have to buy new hardware or understand the complexities of software updates. This gives your small business access to the same technology as the biggest enterprises.
- Remotely located colleagues use the same documents, making master control easier and giving them real time access to documents and data when they’re not in the office. This can also support flexible working because providers can be available 24/7.
- Applications can be used on multiple devices because they are automatically fully responsive.
- Some providers offer a ‘pay-as-you use’ service, so you don’t waste money on unwanted applications or capacity. You also often have the flexibility to add more capacity as you grow.
- Backups are automatic and controlled.
- If your business premises become inaccessible or inoperable, your data is secure as it is stored off-site (a form of built-in disaster recovery).
- Providers often have disaster recovery solutions as part of the package in the event of fire or theft of their servers, ensuring you have continuity.
- Security should comply with industry-wide standards, and you will have prearranged the security levels you’re expecting on your data. This can also reduce threats to your security from spam.
- Some cloud service providers allow you to try before you buy, which is useful because once you’ve got rid of all your data to the cloud it’s very expensive to get it back if you decide that cloud computing isn’t right for your business.
- For smaller businesses there are some free providers such as dropbox, which allows you to store 2MB of data for free. There is an extensive list of different service providers available and it is worth doing to research initially to ensure you get the right one for you. To help you get started please click here to see a extensive list of the CSPs available.
Find out more about cloud computing
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