Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Importance of Cloud Computing

As the battles between PC vs. Mac and IE vs. Firefox rage on, there is another battle being waged that is going relatively unnoticed: legacy computing vs. cloud computing. If you’ve never heard these terms before, here is a quick lesson.

Legacy computing involves programs that are installed on a computer’s hard drive or a local server; cloud computing refers to software services and platforms that are offered through the Internet. An easy-to-understand example is e-mail; some people access e-mail from a program on their computer while others use e-mail services online such as Gmail or Yahoo! mail. Cloud computing services, while not as new as they may seem, are quickly becoming the standard of choice for businesses everywhere.

Cloud computing is an efficient way to store and maintain databases, and is an especially helpful tool for businesses who do a lot of sales. Using a platform on the cloud for your business helps everyone who uses it by streamlining data and procedures into one central location. It’s an easy way to organize information in different departments while still allowing for company-wide collaboration. Services offered by cloud computing are actually software, but the software is never installed on a computer; this is what’s known as software-as-a-service, or SaaS. The software is accessed through the Internet, and provide storage, database creation, information management and many other business-related services.

Cloud computing solutions are often less expensive than their software counterparts, another reason why they are a becoming a popular choice among businesses. Pricing is often offered on a per-user basis, so businesses pay a flat fee based on the number of people who use it. It also saves time and money when it comes time to upgrade; cloud services are updated by the provider, so everyone is always working on the latest platform.

You may be wondering why cloud computing is becoming increasingly prevalent; here’s why. With cloud computing, users have access to their information through the Web, so it’s accessible from anywhere they need it. It’s also generally less expensive than other solutions; a simple return on investment (ROI) calculation can help determine just how cost-effective it can be for your company. A big benefit that is often touted by the companies who use cloud services is that the fear of losing data, or having unsecured data, is no longer a factor. When changes are made on the cloud, they happen in real time. There’s no need to save constantly in case a computer crashes. There’s no in-house server required needing daily backup, either. All of the IT worries are “virtually” gone. Security is still maintained, because information is password accessible.
What does this mean for your business? It means that employees will have the capability to do things faster and with much more ease; since everyone is using the same system, everyone is able to collaborate and get the information they need. Many cloud based services offer customizable options to fit virtually every business need, and the option to customize it even further by writing your own programs and add-ons, or consulting to have these customizations done for you. Cloud services also integrate with most commonly used software applications, and even other Web-based services and social networking sites, to help connect your employees and customers in one location.

If your business is facing problems due to lack of organization or you’re just fed up with your current system, consider making the switch to cloud computing. It has proven success across many fields of business, is cost-effective, makes managing how business gets done much easier, bringing peace-of-mind to everyone involved.