SCORE Small Business Blog

eBiz Thursday: 5 Benefits of Cloud Computing for Small Business
1 Comment

Improve Your Company’s Technology with Cloud Computing

Does your company subscribe to Salesforce.com or rely on Microsoft Exchange Online? Do you use WebEx for conferencing or DropBox for storing and sharing files? Got a Google Mail account? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you’ve used cloud computing—maybe without even realizing.

So what exactly is cloud computing? Think of it as Internet-based computing. All software, information, and resources are located on a provider’s server that sits on a network far away. These services are delivered to your computer, and other devices, on demand. Most cloud computing services are so quick and easy to use that you don’t even realize you’re accessing software that’s not located on your computer’s hard drive.

You can get applications, called Software as a Service (SaaS), and hardware resources, called Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), from the cloud. SaaS providers, which include such companies as Cisco, Google, Yahoo, Salesforce.com and others, install and maintain their software on their network servers. Cloud applications are designed so that each customer has its own customized instance of that software; data and configuration details are kept separate from any other customers. Customers pay a monthly subscription fee for only the exact number of users who need the application. Of course, some personal cloud applications, like Google Mail, are free.

IaaS providers, including Amazon, Rackspace, and Terremark, deliver storage capacity and computing resources. These providers charge customers for the resources they use on an on-demand basis, or they charge a subscription fee for reserved resources. With either option, you’re not paying for an expensive server set up to handle spikes in your website’s traffic that only occur during certain times of the year.

Small businesses can get a lot of bang for their buck with both types of cloud computing—and many already are. Cisco surveyed more than 500 small and medium-sized businesses and found that at least 75 percent of them are using cloud computing for a variety of applications, especially security, storage, and desktop productivity applications.

Here are five ways your small business can benefit from cloud computing:

  1. Pay only for what you need. You pay for the IT resources you actually use in the cloud, so your company no longer risks over-investing in hardware that is underutilized, or under-investing in software that soon needs additional licenses.
  2. Eliminate complex software installations. Your PCs already have Web browsers installed, and that’s all you need to access tools in the cloud. In general, the providers handle the complex configurations and updates.
  3. Access to enterprise-grade applications. Small business software is usually less robust than its enterprise counterparts, but cloud-based applications give you access to advanced, big business features. By securely sharing an application, you are able to utilize these advanced features at an affordable price while ensuring your company’s confidential information is protected. Also, providers upgrade their applications more frequently than most small companies can afford to.
  4. Respond to business changes quickly. Adding users or increasing server capacity in the cloud is as simple as logging onto your cloud service. You can scale up or down as your business requires, and you can do it in a matter of minutes.
  5. Try before you buy. Many business applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM) are available in the cloud, and providers frequently offer free trials and extensive demos so you can see if the application is right for your company. Even monthly subscriptions make it easy—and affordable—to check out new software.
Diana WongWeb Marketing Team, Cisco Systems
Diana specializes in marketing and social media related to helping small businesses grow and succeed.
www.blogs.cisco.com | Facebook | More from Diana

// |

Discussion (1) Comment


  1. Rosella YoungVisitor

    Hello, Diana. Thank you for explaining “Cloud Computing.” I had not heard of it. You’ve broaden my horizons on this subject. I will never see or think of emailing and internet use the same again. Now I have a different or better visualization of what’s really happening or going on. Who knew? Rosella Young, AA-1 Designs, Longaberger Consultant, American Made All In One, Invest in yourself

 

Leave a Comment

More Blog Topics