If you have an ongoing business or you’re about to start one, one of the more important decisions you have to make is do I or do I not use cloud computing for my business processes?
Cloud computing allows businesses to be mobile, doing work whenever and wherever they need to, which is the growing trend these days. It allows a company’s employees to work with their files no matter where they are at the moment. But if you come from the thinking that I need an onsite server for my business needs, then you most probably have dozens of questions before you dive into this thing they call cloud computing.
First, let’s define what Cloud computing is. Cloud computing is using the Internet to store, manage, and process data from anywhere with a computer, tablet, phone, or similar devices. This makes it possible for users to access, collect, and manage data from anywhere with internet connection.
1. Lower costs – Through Cloud computing, an employee’s computer will be cheaper because all the work will be done in the cloud, thus, eliminating the need for a faster, more expensive computer. This might seem like small savings but if you consider how many computers you need for each employee, the savings could be very significant.
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Not only that, you could also save a lot on purchases since Cloud computing software’s cost less. With Cloud computing, most of the software is paid monthly which is much cheaper than purchasing a single copy of the software per computer. In other words, you only pay for the software that you use at a given time.
Using and maintaining an onsite server can be costly. Just consider the electric bill, the maintenance, and the upgrades you need over the course of a period of two years and you’ll see what I mean. However, with cloud computing, everything I mentioned costs a fraction of what you’ll spend for a server.
2. Mobility – Cloud computing allows an employee to use a different number of devices like laptops, tablets, and even mobile phones to work on projects. This makes it possible for employees that travel a lot to manage accounts their accounts and be updated while on the go.
3. Works across different platforms – Compatibility will not be a problem if you’re using both Macs and PCs since most cloud apps may be used from either of the two. This means you don’t need to convert files to work on PCs if you used a Mac for the original file. Since the apps are on the cloud, the files you use can work on either.
4. Security and confidentiality – Most business owners are concerned about security as well as the confidentiality of their files especially company secrets. In reality, Cloud vendors offer higher security than what most small business owners can provide for themselves.
Typically, when a computer is lost, stolen, or breaks down, you lose all the information stored on it. The cost of retrieving and recovering lost information is incalculable. When files are stored in the cloud, however, your files remain safe in the cloud and can be retrieved simply by logging in through another device.
Business owners also wonder whether information can leak to their competitors through the web when the information is saved in the cloud. This concern can actually be compared to email. Everyday lots of confidential emailing happens between business owners and their clients. Yet no one asks whether the information they sent is kept between the parties involved only or if Google or Yahoo somehow read their emails. The same is true for Cloud computing. A good, reliable cloud vendor keeps your files secure and confidential even more than what you can provide for yourself.
5. Storage space – No need to buy computers with huge storage space since the files you save are stored in the cloud. This eliminates the need for more hard drives and burning files onto discs which sometimes either get lost or become unreadable. You need to pay for additional storage if your needs exceed your original request from your cloud vendor but this is often cheaper than you might imagine.
1. Internet connection required – Unlike simply saving files on your hard drive and having them readily available offline, saving on the cloud requires that you have internet access every time you open your files. If your internet connection gets disrupted, this will keep you from working since your files are stored on the web. Your internet connection speed also has to be reliable to be able to access, manage, download, and upload your files consistently especially if you have hundreds of workers using the internet.
2. Data security – As confident as we might be with cloud computing security, there are also some issues that are critical when choosing a vendor and how secure your files really are. Joseph Idziorek and Mark Tannian of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from Iowa State University said that there are six essential aspects of security when it comes to cloud computing, according to veteran information security researcher Donn Parker, namely:
- Confidentiality (secrecy of information)
- Integrity (data unaltered without permission)
- Availability (data accessible to those authorized to use it)
- Utility (data can be processed by those authorized to access it)
- Authenticity (validation that data is genuine)
- Possession (authorized users have full control over their data)
If you don’t feel confident about these six issues from a cloud vendor, then you’re probably better off not going into the cloud at all. Data security is essential to your business.
Something to consider when choosing a cloud vendor is how secure your data is should they go out of business. Will you be able to recover all your files safely and without any losses? Can they assure you that they have enough back-ups of your files in case there are any software or hardware problems from their end?
In the end, deciding whether cloud computing is good for your business is up to you. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons well and decide from there. Spend some time getting good technical advice before going into cloud computing for your business.