09/13/11 Wait! What is Cloud Computing?

Here at Smallbiztechnology.com, we’ve talked a lot about cloud computing: what to ask before you make the switch, what it can do for you, the risk and benefits, the growing market etc. There’s tons more information on other websites on how it’s the wave of the future, and how small businesses will be left behind if they are not using it. This list goes on and on. But, it turns out we’ve never taken the time to explain WHAT cloud computing is.

Cloud computing is the latest business buzzword, and is also known as cloud technology, cloud applications, or cloud-based services. Cloud computing is where apps or data are accessible on the Internet instead of on a single computer or network. Examples of cloud-based services include customer self-scheduling, data storage, online payment, and accounting software. It’s likely that you are utilizing the cloud without even knowing it (if you do know it, please take our current survey about the cloud on the right hand side), as some popular small business tools that are cloud-based include Freshbooks, Constant Contact, Dropbox, and Doodle.

So, is cloud computing worth all the hype? Should you be moving some, or all, of your business to the cloud? Perhaps and not entirely. There are certainly lots of benefits to cloud-based services. Take data storage, for example. By storing your data on the cloud, you don’t have to worry about purchasing storage devices or backing up your data yourself. Just sync your files to the cloud, and everything automatically backs up and updates anytime you make a change. Cloud applications are low in cost and are very easy to use.

As for moving to the cloud, don’t do it all at once. Start small, with one service, and then move more services once you are ready. Finding the right cloud service provider takes time, and the provider of your office productivity suite is not necessarily the same one who will provide your accounting or customer scheduling. So, take the time to find the right provider for each service you want to use on the cloud. To make that time and effort easier, many services offer a free trial to allow for a quick, easy test drive.

Whether or not you are already using the cloud, or are familiar with it, cloud computing is nothing to be afraid of. The most likely outcome is that a cloud-based service can help your small business save time and money. So, yes, cloud computing is the wave of the future. it can help you cut costs. And, maybe in a few years, your business will be left in the dust if you have yet to try the cloud.

smallbiztechnology – Allison Midori Reilly



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