Business in the Cloud: Is it Really Workable?

By on November 11, 2011
image of world i box in sky with clouds

By Sharon Hurley Hall –

The cloud, the cloud, the cloud – that’s all you seem to hear these days. But what exactly is the cloud and is it a viable business solution? Cloud computing makes computing into a service rather than a product. It’s based on sharing information, resources and software via a network. It basically makes harnessing computer power for all sorts of services like hooking into the power grid or water system. If this still sounds like Greek to you, don’t worry – the beauty of cloud computing is that you don’t have to understand it; it just works. Hand in hand with cloud computing goes mobile access to all sorts of services – and that, everyone can understand. But can the cloud really work for business? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of doing business in the cloud.

Money Saver

If you’re a big business you probably spend a lot of money on IT infrastructure; if you’re running a small business, perhaps a lot less. The problem with having lots of physical IT plant is that it has to be maintained and that’s a cost. In the old-style office, every time a piece of software got updated, someone had to deploy it to individual machines, update laptops and so on. If the application lives in the cloud, one update by the developer gives everyone instant access to it – see how much time and money you just saved.

These days, almost everyone has a computer and phone – and that’s all you need to access stuff in the cloud. Whether you are talking about word processing or spreadsheet applications or company data, everything is instantly available to everyone who needs to see it, no matter where they are connecting from.

Collaboration

That also brings benefits in terms of collaboration. Many of us have already experienced working on documents in the cloud via Google Docs and other cloud enabled software. You can get the same benefits from collaborating in a virtual private environment (which allows you to have teams of people able to access the items they are working on.) Everyone can work at the same time and all changes are automatically tracked. That saves a lot of administrative time too. In fact, it’s much more efficient than doing the same thing in a meeting room.

Other benefits of cloud computing include the ability to make your business innovative and responsive, using the best underlying systems available. And that will help with how your customers perceive you.

What about Security?

Information security is the main issue on everyone’s mind when they worry about working in the cloud. The truth is that the companies that provide cloud services, whether these are in the public cloud or your own private company cloud, have a vested interest in keeping your data secure. That’s why they use high level encryption and encourage the formation of secure passwords.

And then there are other issues too. If you don’t own the platform, you don’t have ultimate control. You may also get locked into a system and find it difficult to move if you want to change. And you don’t always know how reliable the service will be: if everything is in the cloud, any down time could hurt your business. These are real concerns that we shouldn’t trivialize.

So should you head for the cloud or not? Even for a small business, being a cloud user has benefits. If you have ever used IMAP to access your email, then you already have a small taste of what working in the cloud could be. With IMAP you get to work on your email in different locations and have it all synced wherever you access it from – working in the cloud is just like that, so why not try it?

Next time, I’ll look at some of the applications that make the cloud useful for small business owners.

 

Sharon Hurley Hall has been writing professionally for almost 25 years, and she does it because she loves it. She is a word nerd, a Scrabble fiend, fanatical about grammar, and is fascinated by learning new things. Since 2005, Sharon has mentored other writers at Get Paid to Write Online to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Sharon subscribes to the ‘fine wine’ theory of aging – getting older also means getting better! Find Sharon on her website http://www.sharonhh.com/, Twitter  http://twitter.com/#!/shurleyhalland Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SharonHurleyHall.

About Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall has been writing professionally for almost 25 years, and she does it because she loves it. She is a word nerd, a Scrabble fiend, fanatical about grammar, and is fascinated by learning new things. Since 2005, Sharon has mentored other writers at “Get Paid To Write Online” to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Sharon subscribes to the 'fine wine' theory of aging - getting older also means getting better! Connect with Sharon on her website.

3 Comments

  1. Scott Kelley

    February 1, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Hi Sharron,
    I was wondering if this is a cloud app of some sort. We have a Nook Tablet and as we were looking at all the apps there was one that caught our eye. It is called Splashtop Remote. When it was shown to the IT guys at work their eyes and mouth went into sync with how does that work. The app allows the Nook to control and view a desktop. Security was the issue that came to the IT’s mind. But for workers who have to input data from a work floor to the desktop seemed to be a plus. We tried it at home to see how it works, and it works! Very well. My mind is still wrapping around how it works. So I am wondering, is this a cloud app?

    • Sharon

      February 1, 2012 at 11:48 am

      Well, it’s certainly a mobile app, Scott, if nothing else – the deciding factor might be where it stores the application data (and your own.

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Business in the Cloud: Is it Really Workable?