Published on 12/14/2015 12:00:00 AM
A novel concept less than 10 years ago, cloud computing is rapidly changing the way companies do business. Now, rather than store data on hard drives or onsite servers, you can simply access information via the Internet. The cloud platform makes data accessible anytime, anywhere and from any device (such as laptops, tablets and smartphones).
There are many other benefits to cloud computing:
- Lower costs – Because cloud services work with your existing hardware and eliminate the need for traditional software, you can do more with less. This can add up to significant savings in installation, maintenance, upgrades and IT support costs.
- Easier sharing – Especially appealing for smaller businesses, collaboration is a breeze in the cloud. Multiple employees can work in shared documents and programs without having to be in the same location.
- More flexibility – As the workplace becomes more mobile and open to remote working arrangements, the ability to access work-related information anytime, anywhere and from any device is a huge plus. Whether working from home or on a business trip, you can tap into the necessary files.
- Greater integration – By integrating with various cloud-based providers for your day-to-day operations (from human resources to marketing to accounting), you can focus on other business priorities -- all the while boosting your overall efficiency and productivity.
While this is good news, any shift in how you do business – especially when it involves critical files and data – requires a careful approach. Moving to the cloud can be storm-free if you weigh these five important factors:
- This is number one with a bullet. Because you’re trusting your data to a third party, you can’t be too careful about choosing the most reliable and secure provider. To protect your data from unauthorized use and other risks, a cloud computing service should offer password protection, the latest data encryption and SSL enforcement for secure HTTPS access. Steer clear of any provider that can’t verify its security practices.
- Understanding and getting comfortable with a cloud service shouldn’t be a frustrating and time-consuming experience. Seek out services that are logical and intuitive, where you can navigate the site quickly and easily. Watch the demos and sign up for any free trials to test the service first-hand before making a commitment.
- When weighing cloud services, make sure you understand what is covered in the monthly service and what is extra. Verify the system requirements, too, as this could create additional costs for your business. Requirements may include high-speed internet connection, certain web browsers and operating systems, and Adobe Acrobat Reader to view reports.
- Cloud-based services can eliminate a lot of your hardware maintenance issues and ongoing reliance on IT assistance. That being said, no system is perfect – and professional support should be readily available if you encounter snags. Ideally, you should have a few different ways to reach someone – whether email, instant chat or a telephone call – if you need help.
A bright forecast for cloud computing
Cloud-based applications are a game changer for many businesses. If you’re ready to make the switch, recognize that reviewing a provider’s security, reliability and flexibility is time well-spent and can lead to a smoother transition.