Cloud Computing. It’s one of those new small-business buzzwords, yet, 71 percent of small businesses said in an eWeek.com survey that they’ve never heard of it, let alone what it could mean for them. Some cloud computing products and services you may have heard of, however, include Google Apps and Quickbooks Online.
Cloud computing can refer to software as a service, such as Salesforce.com for customer relationship management (CRM); to file storage, synchronization, backup, and other utility computing, such as Dropbox; and to infrastructure as a service, including Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud, which delivers customizable computing capacity over the Internet. They require no software purchases or installation, and are scalable as your business grows. They also can be accessed at any time, at any place, so it’s a great option if you or your employees sometimes work from home.
Before you dismiss cloud computing as something that’s not for you, read what three small-business people told PC World about their experiences with it:
• “We saved over $4000 in up-front costs by moving to an entirely cloud-based solution [for e-mail, Web hosting, virus protection, and more]. We were also able to substantially reduce our power bill and the costs needed to maintain and upgrade hardware.” –Bob Everett, president, Bottom-Line Consulting, a three-person firm offering various small-business services.
• “As a non-IT person, I find cloud-based applications easier to set up and use than many [computer] applications, and I don’t need to rely on internal IT support as much for assistance.” –Cristina Martin Greysman, executive vice president, business development, Vuzit, a six-employee software company.
• “A power surge nearly destroyed our in-house e-mail server. Had we not recovered it, a great deal of historical knowledge and valuable information would have been lost forever, not to mention the lost productivity for days or weeks. Now we have a secure, redundant, cloud e-mail system we can access anywhere, anytime, with a consistent interface, and it’s made our business stronger.” –Kevin Hart, partner and founder, Hart-Boillot, a ten-employee marketing and communications agency.
Still unsure about cloud computing? Business on Main offers this video for you to find out more about what it can mean for your small business. Despite the lack of knowledge demonstrated in the eWeek.com survey, respondents sought the benefits of a cloud offering, with 21 percent citing the ability to share resources and 20 percent citing on-demand resources as important.
With the proper knowledge and education on cloud technology, 20 percent of decision-makers stated they were “likely” or “very likely” to implement a cloud computing solution in the next 12 months, while almost 10 percent were “likely” or “very likely” to implement in the next three months, according to those survey results. Just about any business function, from accounting to data storage to productivity management, can operate on the cloud. So, do you still think it’s not for you?