For most of us, cloud computing means we use a hosted application such as Microsoft Office Live, Salesforce.com or a hosted email application. But these Internet based applications are only part of cloud (or hosted) computing. There are more ways to benefit from cloud computing—including saving money and dramatically boosting productivity.
You company can truly benefit from cloud computing, especially if you strategically integrate it into your business operations. Why are so many businesses now turning to cloud computing?
First, it’s easy. Type in the web address to your hosted application and you can begin using it. You still might require some training in how to use the interface and the features, but if you can use any of the free email services, like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo you can begin using a hosted application. Now that many professionals are using social networking tools like Facebook or LinkedIn and have become used to the fundamentals of browser based computing, using a hosted application is even easier.
With cloud computing there is no software to install or worries about it crashing your computer. When you install a traditional application on a desktop computer or your server, you are concerned with three things:
1) Will the new software cause a conflict with existing software?
2) Will the new software slow down my computer or server due to demands on the hard disk or memory?
3) Will our users cause an unmanageable load on the server?
Fortunately, with cloud computing, none of these worries exist, since the application host can dynamically provide more processing power.
Second, cloud computing is easily expandable. If your “small business” is growing into a “bigger business” fairly quickly and you are using traditional software, scaling up can be a challenging and expensive exercise. Rolling out software to your new employees will be difficult if your staff is geographically dispersed around the country. Supporting the staff and ensuring everyone is using the same version can also be challenging. By leveraging a cloud computing environment, every employee with a web browser and access to the Internet can access the same application. If your client base spikes due to seasonality or current events, you can be at peace knowing the application’s performance won’t slow down or falter.
A cloud computing strategy goes beyond hosting files, but also encompasses any programs you create. Instead of hosting custom applications on your own servers, you can host them on the servers of the service provider.
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