In case you have missed it, the adoption of cloud-based technology is rapidly growing, especially among small businesses. In fact, it is probably safe to assume your business is using cloud-based tools in some capacity. However, what exactly is the “cloud?” Without getting into the nitty gritty details of cloud computing, let us just say that the cloud generally refers to a collection of servers located at a central location that store data or serve various technologies, usually to a large number of people. One example of a popular cloud-based service is Dropbox, which offers document storage and sharing via the cloud. Small businesses may also use cloud-based solutions for their accounting software, email service, and data backup services.
To illustrate how widespread the migration to the cloud has been among SMBs, a 2017 report from McAfee says that 93% of organizations are now using cloud services in some form. They even go one-step further and say, “those surveyed [expected] 80% of their IT budget to be cloud-based within an average of 15 months.”
Why are businesses, particularly small businesses, moving to the cloud in droves? What is the big draw to cloud-based technology? Cloud-based services on the market utilize cloud technology to save individuals and businesses the time and hassle of installing the same technology on their own computers or servers.
The first and perhaps most obvious benefit of moving to the cloud is the cost savings that go along with it. When business tools and technology are being hosted in the cloud, it eliminates the expense associated with physically storing and maintaining the resources that power that technology.
First, there is the cost of the hardware itself. Then there is the ongoing cost of keeping an IT team either employed or contracted in order to make sure you are covered should you need any help with your hardware. Whether you are thinking of using the cloud for your business phone system, data storage, backup, disaster recovery, or practically anything else, chances are there are at least some cost savings to be had by utilizing the cloud.
Another big advantage the cloud has over on-site technology is the ability to scale quickly and easily. For example, if you were to try to store all of your business data on servers located at your place of business, you would need to buy new servers every time you wanted to expand your storage capacities. With cloud storage, however, you can simply purchase more resources in the cloud as you need them. You can also scale back when necessary, in addition, meaning less money wasted on resources you do not need.
Because the cloud is driven by the Internet, you can typically access cloud-based technology from any device with an Internet connection. That means if you are using cloud storage like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive, you can save a document on your desktop or laptop from the office, and then access the same document from your mobile device when you are active.
The same is true with other services like cloud phone systems. With a cloud phone system, you can use a softphone app to make and receive calls on your mobile device as if you’re using your office phone. You will appear to have your same office number, and you will have access to much the same features as you would with the phone in your office.
In addition to having access to data and business tools at all times with cloud-based technology, the cloud also allows multiple people to access the same data and tools and collaborate in real-time. For example, when you save a document to the cloud, every person with access to it can see it as it is in real time. In other words, the cloud eliminates the need to go back and forth making sure everyone has the same version of a document.
Again, the same is also true of a cloud phone system. Many cloud phone systems include status indicators, chat, and more that allow team members within a business or organization to better collaborate in real-time.
Cloud services also offer the unique benefit of having added support on standby. Because the technology itself does not live at your place of business, the maintenance and support do not fall to your IT staff. Instead, if there is an issue with a cloud-based tool, all you usually have to do is report it to the service provider’s technical support and they will take it from there.
That is a huge advantage to small businesses who do not like the idea of purchasing, maintaining, and fixing servers for systems like phones, file storage, web hosting, or anything else.
Have questions about the cloud? Contact Scott Oleson, Senior vCIO/IT Director at Frontier Business Products. Tel: 303.390.3600 Email: [email protected]