Ditching Your Software: 5 Questions You Should Ask About Cloud Computing. With Answers From Your Peers.

Many of us are quite comfortable using online services to manage our businesses. Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps, QuickBooks Online, RingCentral, eFax and so many other great services are all ONLINE – no software to install.

However, I know many of you (rightfully so) are cautious. If you’re near Mountain View, CA on Tuesday (Sep 27) or Salt Lake City, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta (on other dates) stop by the Small Business Technology Tour to learn more about this topic.

However, there are several questions you should ask when considering if moving to cloud computing is for you.

Is your data safe? (yes it is – as safe as any other online data is that does go down or get compromised from time to time; I’ve been online for years and have never had a serious problem)

Will you get support? (depending on the service you get you will get great phone support, or email only support or none at all – you must check this out; but regardless of support always have an IT consultant on your speed dial)

Will you always get access? (if you’re internet service goes down – you’ll lose access to your data and the online software until you are reconnected; and at times the online provider goes down – but rarely. Just like sometimes your software or server goes down)

Can you afford the monthly fees? (you’ll find the monthly fees well worth the peace of mind of having no servers to worry about, including getting all the upgrades.)

The New York Times has a great piece which goes into these questions in more details and tells the story of how small businesses have succeeded in using software as a service and those who have decided to use traditional software. Both can work just fine. I’m personally biased towards the cloud as I think it’s the better, simpler, choice for most small businesses.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

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