For years we’ve heard about cloud computing and the benefits it offers to small business. Cloud computing is a topic that many business owners often find a bit confusing. The truth is, many of those same business owners use the cloud every day and don’t realize it! If you use Google, Twitter, or Facebook, welcome to the cloud!
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is basically computing as a service. Resources are housed on remote servers and accessed via a network connection, usually the Internet. Physical and virtual resources are shared by multiple users who pay only for the services they use, when they use them. This “pay-as-you-go” model covers all computer services including software, storage, RAM, and CPU load. This removes the burden of upkeep from business owners and allows users to tap into a virtually endless supply of resources rather than managing infrastructure.
Major Benefits of Cloud Computing
Hosting your infrastructure virtually on the cloud provides some major benefits to small business. One of the key benefits realized being flexibility through scalability. The cloud allows you to adapt and scale your computer usage to changes in workload. Because the cloud is Internet-based and virtual, this adaptability can be set-up to automatically engage when needed within seconds, and return you normal usage when the increased workload has passed.
This is the key difference between enterprise computing on your own servers or in colocation facilities and the cloud. Internal infrastructure requires purchase of additional hardware, software, servers, RAM, etc. to scale up to meet demand, resulting in wasted capacity when work returns to normal. Because the cloud offers immediate access to increased capacity and the pay-as-you-go business model, many small businesses can realize substantial savings.
Security and Management
The cloud offers a great choice of services to suit almost any business. This choice encompasses not only actual services, but also the level of security and infrastructure management.
All services are hosted offsite by a third party provider. Multiple clients share resources using a public network such as the Internet. Public clouds offer tremendous economies of scale and are the most cost-effective system for small businesses with capital restrictions. Public cloud services are more vulnerable than private cloud services.
The private cloud is exactly as it sounds. It features services and infrastructure stored and maintained on a private network. Security is enhanced because there is no sharing of resources, servers, or data outside of the host network. Hosting can be provided in-house, or off-site through a third party provider and can be physical or virtual. Private cloud services also offer more control of data and resources because a single client uses them. Cost benefits are lower because the enterprise must purchase/rent and maintain all software and hardware.
The final option, the hybrid cloud is a combination of the two. The public aspect allows companies to realize economies of scale by using shared services while the private component keeps proprietary data or mission-critical functions more securely controlled.
The cloud is here to stay and it’s growing in popularity every year. As cloud computing continues to mature, security, services and options are increasing for small business. It’s a smart decision to migrate at least a portion of your business to the space, both for the economic benefits and the ability to grow services as needed.