"The cloud", a phrase heard almost everywhere these days. What is it, and what can it do for your business? There is a lot of information available about “The Cloud” around, so much so that it can be confusing to determine what benefits it can actually provide to a company. Taking a closer look at the benefits can help make the information clearer. Let’s examine some of the benefits more closely.
Scalability is one of the greatest benefits of cloud computing. When using a cloud based sysetm a company only needs to purchase the amount of storage and bandwidth that they need. As circumstances change this amount is able to be changed quickly. These changes can be accomplished without having to buy additional hardware. When a company creates their own infrastructure, no changes can be made without significant cost increases. Cloud computing allows rapid response to demand that can not be found in situations where a company builds their own infrastructure.
Increased productivity is another reward for switching to a cloud based system.
When you have yourdata, or the entire program, in the cloud it can be accessed from any location. As long your employees have access to the internet, they have the ability to work. This provides them the flexibility modern workers seem to crave, and a modern business can take advantage of. Productivity increases as well when information is readily accessible. When someone can simply go to the data and look questions are answered in a more timely fashion. In "the cloud" work doesn’t have to wait to be done on one specific computer or at one location.
Workflow and business processes can be streamlined when everyone has ready access to the same files and information. Significant delays can occur in even the best process when someone is not available. By putting everything on the cloud, the information is still readily at hand. Also the employee has the ability to work from outside the building, so that even on break or vacation if absolutely needed they can contribute.
Reduction in infrastructure costs is realized by using the cloud. A company can save significant money by changing to a cloud based system. Space and bandwidth are rented at a considerable savings over the purchase, installation, and maintenance of hardware. No system will last forever, and there are significant expenditures in upkeep for an in-house framework. When using a cloud based system you no longer need the expenditure for the actual hardware, and the ongoing expense of maintenance, and the need to hire specialized employees to handle the system.
Project management is more organized, and effective when the system is available at all times. A system that is cloud based allows project managers to monitor a situation real time. When information is accurate, and timely it allows a project manager to make better decisions. This also allows them to meet budget guidelines and determine benchmark progress without the need to consult subordinates to ensure tasks have been completed.
Personnel training requirements decrease when a system is cloud based. When hardware is taken out of the training requirements there is simply less for an employee to learn. Cloud based systems allow a company to focus training on the actual tasks, and not the equipment used to do these tasks. The cloud can also simplify training by providing a ready resource for employees who can access FAQ's and best practices that are kept current by the company. This reduces the need to rely on the one "smart" person in a department.
Software requirements include licensing, and upgrades when a company has their own infrastructure. This can grow prohibitively expensive over time. Keeping individual workstations as basic as possible, and using software as a service, allows a company to reduce this cost. As new programs are released the company is not forced to upgrade the entire workforce just to stay competitive.
There is one consideration that is often not thought of when considering the benefits of the cloud. When a company has all of their information and systems locally based they are at risk for all sorts of disasters. Everything from power outages, to fires, to natural disasters can occur and leave a company unable to ever get vital information back. Shifting storage, and entire systems to a the cloud keeps a company resilient and able to increase the time it takes to get back in operation following some sort of disaster.
Keeping information secure is a constant battle. Security is a basic concern that must be addressed no matter the infrastructure that is used. When this infrastructure is one where the company builds and maintains the hardware this can result in delays and increased costs. As servers need to be patched, and networks need to be upgraded to deal with emerging threats a company can experience delays. When the company has their assets in a cloud based solution all of the security regarding servers and emerging threats is handled by the provider. The provider ensure that security is maintained, leaving the company to handle its own business instead of spending time fighting the latest virus.
Information consistency goes along with the ready access discussed previously. A document that is accessible to an entire team is more consistent. In acloud based system there is much less emailing of documents from person to person. By the entire team using the same document version control is easy as everyone is accessing the most current document. Without this access documents are usually emailed from person to person, and even when using naming conventions it is not always transparent which is the most current document.
Moving software to the cloud gives a company access to enterprise-class technology for bargain prices. It gives small companies the ability to have the same level of technology as their much larger competitors. By taking advantage of this chance a company can leverage the ability to respond quickly and accurately into a greater position. Relying on company owned infrastructure can keep a smaller company from growth, as the needed capitol for such an investment is unavailable.
All companies want to be environmentally friendly. Utilizing the cloud can help a company achieve a much more environmentally friendly business model. Sharing resources on a cloud reduces the need for resources. This reduction is increased as more and more companies choose this option. Server farms take a tremendous amount of cooling to maintain, when companies are effectively sharing server farms this need is reduced, leading to less energy being used, and a smaller carbon footprint for the company.
Switching to the cloud gives a company a great deal of benefits. These benefits offset any worry that may be lingering over the information not physically residing within the walls of a company. Embracing the cloud will make any company more flexible, and profitable.