Cloud computing provides a company the convenience of technology in the ever-changing and competitive business climate. Whether people are on their tablets, mobile phones, or their computers, cloud computing allows access to information right at their fingertips.

What is cloud computing and who can use it?

Simply put, cloud computing is working, storing, and accessing data over the Internet. For small and mid-sized enterprises (SME), this pertains to an application that runs from the web and not directly from a desktop connected to the Internet (software as service or Saas). It offers SMEs and individuals the tools and programs required to working online in the same manner these tools and programs are installed in a machine. All that is really needed is a reliable Internet connection. A certified cloud technology professional facilitates all types of information-sharing, such as email services, application hosting, Web-based phone systems, data storage, etc.

Cloud computing is available for businesses of any size because it offers an ideal solution to working in a number of ways. Data, as previously mentioned, is easily accessible at any time, which means work can be done away from the office. More businesses are now opting to use cloud computing as they look to move away from having to store data on site. In fact, it is predicted that by 2020, 78 percent of small businesses will be fully adapted to the cloud—up from 37 percent in 2014.

Why use cloud computing?

Cloud computing saves business time and money by boosting productivity and improving collaboration and promoting innovation. While other companies have trepidations regarding the safety of the cloud, SME cloud adoption is on the rise. Facts from the New Jersey Institute of Technology provides evidence about why businesses implement cloud technology. It turns out that the top drivers for cloud computing adoption comprise: improved data backup services/ disaster recovery (42 percent), 24-hour access to data (40 percent), cost savings (38 percent), reduced on-site infrastructure needed (35 percent), and flexibility in the amount of capacity needed (35 percent).

Here we state the reasons why your small business deserves the conveniences that cloud computing offers:

1. Lower costs

With the practical nature of cloud computing, there is high utilization and a fluid work flow especially in the face of heavy load. The same server infrastructure will be used as other organizations which means the cloud provider will be able to utilize the hardware requirements which translates to lower cost. Putting IT support onsite is costly too since competent IT specialists are expensive. Through cloud computing, the service charge goes to covering costs of staff and in reality this costs less than if the work was carried out on-site.

2. Efficiency

Adopting cloud computing results to a large saving when it comes to power. Having your own data center will mean that servers are not used efficiently which means that energy is wasted. A provider on the one hand could charge less for the energy you use than what is wasted on storing your own data on-site.

3. Flexibility

For any company that requires more bandwidth, using a cloud-based service means that demands can be met instantly as their remote servers have a huge capacity.

4. Business Continuity

Data and secure storage is vital to businesses and once they opt to use a cloud based service they no longer need to worry about disaster recovery. Any form of disaster recovery can be carried out quicker than when cloud computing is not used.

5. Accessibility

Access is crucial for many businesses. Cloud computing enables employees to be in sync and work on documents at the same time. This means that businesses can maximize their employees because they are able to work away from the office.

Getting into cloud computing comes with the awareness of the technology’s drawbacks. Here we point them out:

• There is potential for system downtime which means that system availability is completely out of the control of the business. There is scheduled downtime which happens during maintenance and upgrades. When this happens, all users will have to wait until the system is back up and running.

• Implementing any new type of technology will require training personnel and establishing an effective troubleshooting system during and after the cloud has been launched. This involves addressing any hesitation among employees, especially those who are unfamiliar with cloud technology.

• A major concern about cloud computing is security risk. Most businesses worry about sensitive data in the cloud and their vulnerability to unauthorized users. Although an organization’s cloud is accessed using designated usernames and passwords, verifying user identity itself remains a top concern. Moreover, there is potential data loss through hardware failures, outages, hackers and rogue employees. Most cloud services will require their users to hand over some of the control over data loss prevention procedures.

How to Keep Data Safe on the Cloud

Don’t let the benefits outweigh the advantages of cloud computing. Cloud safety is all about finding the right vendors and implementing technology that focuses on both identity verification and data encryption. Businesses need to understand that data safety doesn’t just happen on its own. It is important for businesses to be strategic in adopting security systems, for instance, by authenticating devices connected to the cloud and the identity of the person using it.

One way to protect sensitive information is to encrypt data as it enters, leaves and rests in the cloud. This can be done by leveraging DLPs, or Data Loss Prevention tools, which monitor data leakage and ensure the secure transportation of data to and from the cloud.

Other safety measures include ensuring that you have appropriate security language in your contracts with the cloud service provider and establishing meaningful service-level agreements to guarantee service delivery. It would also be best to consider your back-out plan if the cloud service provider relationship does not work out.

In the end, cloud computing technology will do best if a company does its homework. There are undeniable facts provided by the New Jersey Institute of Technology that your company can be missing a competitive advantage without the cloud computing technology. The data tells that organizations that adopt cloud computing report greater scalability, faster to access to infrastructure, higher availability, and faster time to market for products and services.

SMEs tell other benefits of cloud computing include: improved ability to move into new geographic markets (40 percent), simplification of internal operations (37 percent), better delivery of internal resources (33 percent), new ways for employees to work, connect, and collaborate (31 percent), faster roll out of new business initiatives (23 percent), and improved ability to acquire, share, analyze, and act on data (23 percent).

Cloud computing is one of the important trends shaping technology for the small business market today and likely for decades to come. Overall, if you’re trying to grow your company and are limited by finances, cloud computing brings down-to-earth benefits for most.

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