Cloud Computing 101 – Why it is Good For Small Business

Cloud computing is the best thing that’s happened for small business since the creation of the computer and the paper clip. For a reasonable price, cloud computing services offer businesses access to applications and data on any mobile device from anywhere and at any time. The cloud also gives small businesses access to technology that was once out of their range and allows them to compete with other businesses, both large and small. The business world is increasingly moving to the cloud as many older desktop applications are abandoned. For instance, more vendors of accounting software have given up offering solutions for desktop applications and have moved to the cloud, offering online subscription-based services that are much more cost-effective for startups and small businesses. For as little as about $10 per month, vendors like Zoho and as FreshBooks offer cloud-based starter packs for sole traders and freelancers that include expense tracking, simple reporting and invoicing.

How Cloud Computing Can Save You Money

Cloud computing removes the need to buy software, pay another party to do tasks such as installing and managing email and or file servers, updating and installing software, and running backups. The cloud vendor does all the maintenance of applications and services so you don’t have to do it. Using cloud application solutions can be cheaper. Than buying software and installing/managing it yourself. Other advantages of cloud computing include:

  • Consolidation: In the cloud, you can consolidate your different applications into one multi-application computing service. For example, Google Docs allows you to create documents, forms and presentations using online storage. Google Apps for Business offers calendar scheduling and email, and Google Sites enables you to build websites, all this for a mere $5 per month per person on your account.
  • Office 365: You can now access a cloud-based version of Microsoft’s traditional Office application suite in the cloud via a yearly subscription. It has many features, including Skype, instant messaging, and online video conferencing. Office 365 is now outselling traditional desktop office suite. So for as little as $10 a month for each person, other vendors such as Infostreet offer cloud solutions including email, conference calls, CRM, employee directory calendar scheduling, email and file sharing.
  • System Hardware:  Computing in the cloud means you’re using somebody else’s server to store all your data which frees up your in-house equipment to use for other things and maybe even allowing you to dispose of some and to cut back on system hardware. Data backups and file storage eat up space on hard drives and servers.
  • Integration: Many cloud applications come with an Application Programming Interface (API) which allows you to find ‘compatible’ applications, which means you won’t have to pay to integrate and customise them.
  • Updates: You won’t need to waste time and money updating applications since cloud computing applications are updated regularly which means access to an application’s latest features and functions are always available to you without you needing to lift a finger.

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Other Advantages of Computing in the Cloud

You can easily access cloud applications from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets because the cloud is browser-based. Applications for cloud-based accounting come with Apple or Android compatibility, so you can track expenses, send invoices and more on the run from your mobile device. Mind you, if you want to access office applications through a browser on a mobile device is not such a pleasant experience, so Microsoft has Office for iPad, a mobile version of its application.

It’s a lot quicker and much easier to hop onto the cloud and sign up for a computing application than to go to the trouble and expense of buying a server, getting it up and running and installing the software. Your startup or business growth efforts are much less expensive as well because you don’t need to buy hardware and software.