There’s a lot of talk these days about “the cloud” and what it means for business. While much of the attention is focused on the security and privacy risks of storing data offsite, the benefits of cloud computing may actually outweigh the risks for some entrepreneurs. Consider some of these factors if you’re wondering whether to make the move to the cloud.
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1. Increased Productivity and Flexibility
In today’s virtual world, in many cases there is no need for an employee to be tied to the office all day, every day. In fact, some studies indicate that employees who are allowed more flexible work schedules and environments are more productive than those working a traditional 9-to-5 scheduled in an office. Shifting to the cloud allows employees to work from virtually anywhere, while still having access to the programs and data they need. In addition, because the entire business can be virtualized, entrepreneurs can attract top talent from around the country – and the world – without being limited by geographic boundaries.
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2. Cost Savings
There’s no denying that keeping costs under control is a major concern for businesses of all sizes – but especially for small businesses and startups with limited funds. Cloud computing can represent huge financial savings for businesses, allowing them to redirect funds that would normally be spent on IT functions into other areas.
For example, when entrepreneurs use the cloud, they do not have to invest in network hardware, staffing or security for their data onsite, as everything is stored and managed offsite in the cloud. Instead of paying for space to store a large server and the high utility bills associated with operating and cooling the equipment, an entrepreneur can invest a fraction of the cost into paying for a small portion of the cloud servers that he uses – an investment that also includes security and technical support when necessary.
3. Safety and Security
While there are some security risks associated with using the cloud, and it’s important for vendors to understand the risks and develop a comprehensive security policy, storing data in the cloud actually provides a greater level of security in some senses. How? Imagine that a natural disaster strikes your area – and levels your entire building, taking all of your servers with it. Do you have a backup? Or is everything lost? While maintaining an offsite backup of all of your data has become standard practice, when everything is stored in the cloud, you won’t experience any downtime in the event of a disaster. In addition, storing sensitive data offsite provides a layer of protection in the event of a security breach or theft.
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4. Time Savings
In the business world, time is money – and time spent on researching and maintaining network equipment, dealing with server failures and downtime as well as managing updates and security, is time that could be spent on other entrepreneurial tasks. When you use the cloud to manage your IT functions, on the other hand, those tasks are generally completed for you. Instead of spending hours every few weeks updating software and security measures, you can spend that time prospecting for clients, engaging in client care or other important tasks.
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5. More Storage Space
In theory, storage space in the cloud is virtually unlimited, at least in the sense that you only need to pay for what you use. That means instead of continually adding servers to the network as your business grows – and incurring the costs associated with that growth – you can simply purchase additional space as you need it. This also has the added benefit of helping your company “go green”. Not only do you reduce energy usage, but cloud computing helps increase the efficiency of your onsite machines and reduces the amount of raw materials that go into making creating the servers and machines necessary to meet your storage needs. Storing your company files using cloud storage instead of hard copy documents will also likely to make more space for your office.
Of course, there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution for any organization’s IT needs, and whether or not the cloud is right for your business largely depends on your industry, your computing needs, budget and other factors (i.e. whether you need to use the cloud in terms of Mobile Device Management). However, considering the potential benefits to your business – and your bottom line – it’s worth exploring whether the cloud is where you need to be.
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About the Author: Eric Simonds is a writer, consultant and web developer with more than a decade of experience working with cloud computing. His company is 100 percent virtual and he utilizes MDM and the cloud to successfully manage a staff of nearly two dozen associates around the world.