Cloud Computing in Businesses
Cloud Computing in Businesses

Since the Internet was established in late 90s, it has completely changed how we execute daily tasks. Whether it’s conducting research, communicating with friends, checking bank statements or using a map app on your phone, it all comes down to the fact that nowadays one can hardly imagine not being able to connect to the internet for a long period of time. Having constant access to information, emails and files seems like second nature, and anyone who has a web email account or logs into social media is already (even if unknowingly) using cloud computing. It simply means accessing data stored in a remote server.

In that sense, cloud computing is also revolutionizing the business world. Although not particularly new, the idea of “cloud computing” has gained traction, and more and more companies are converting to the more flexible and dynamic setup: the online office.

Philip Whitchelo, Vice President of Strategy & Product Marketing at Intralinks More Than A VDR, said: “We have seen a speedy increase in interest from entrepreneurs over the last couple of years, as they adapt to a more fast paced business environment. Cloud computing has evolved so much that it now offers practicality and security, adapting to the needs of each company. The opportunities this technology can provide are endless”.

With advances in data security, increasing number of service providers and a plethora of file transfer applications to make mundane tasks easier, there seems to be little left to be desired when adopting to this new IT trend. But how does the theory match up to reality?

Entrepreneurs shared with us their experiences with cloud computing, as well as their thoughts on why some businesses haven’t yet made the transition.

Jason Allen (co- founder of Crowdini)
We run our whole business from the cloud. Using the cloud makes it so much easier since we communicate mainly online. We are not big enough yet to have a physical office but she and I can do just about anything with cloud services. There are really two difficulties that we have experienced: unexpected outages and finding services that prioritize customer support. Probably the major trouble that we have had is unexpected outages. They are usually short but still significant when they happen. When researching services it can be really hard to learn they will be responsive and they know what they are doing.

The major reason I have seen businesses not use the cloud is trust. They don’t trust the 3rd party service to handle their data, especially financial or customer data. The attractiveness of using the cloud is the flexibility and availability increases. The negative is you lose control, as no longer control your data 100%.

Jared Carrizales (CEO at Heroic Search)
My business was basically born online. Everything is in the cloud, and that’s certainly no exaggeration. Here’s why: connectivity and redundancy. 90% of what we need to do business is connected to Google properties, which makes the decision of utilizing cloud storage a no-brainer. It also enables you to create and sort files within multiple programs automatically. By using trigger tools or manually connecting programs using APIs, you can set up redundancies that can ensure you’re never dependent on a single resource for storage. The only difficulty that I’ve personally run into was briefly not being able to access files in Google Chrome.

The most common reason why some are sceptical about cloud computing, is the “what if” factor. “What if my storage gets compromised? What if servers get hacked?” Conventional wisdom says that you need to have a hard copy somewhere, and that’s a tough mindset for people to change.

David Mullings (Managing Partner at Keystone Augusta)
We have team members split between multiple locations, so cloud computing has proved to be very convenient. We also use Dropbox when conducting due diligence on companies to invest, setting up a folder as a data room where they upload their financials and other relevant documents, which then allows our team easy access to view the documents rather than sending lots of emails with attachments. We also have one folder as an online library where we save whitepapers and other relevant reading material that everyone can access on their own time and never have to ask someone where that whitepaper or article was again. We never encountered any difficulties at all.

I think that many smaller businesses do not have the tech expertise in house and cannot afford consultants who could make them more efficient. They don’t calculate the productivity gains that come from such an investment and instead see it as a cost. Even though they are using Google Drive personally and not even realizing it, they haven’t put two and two together.

Reza Olfat (co-founder at House Call)
Our whole business is run in the cloud. In fact, our office got broken into recently and they stole a bunch of hardware. All it took was a trip to the store, a swipe of the credit card and we’re back up and running in half a day. We’ve been really happy with keeping as little of our infrastructure in the office as possible. The only difficulty we’ve had is that transferring large files takes longer since it has to go over the Internet as opposed to our internal network.

I can think of a few reasons why some are still sceptical about using cloud computing: your data transfer rates are slower than if your server was in the office, you can’t do any work if your internet connection goes down, you can’t customize your hardware (and some configuration settings depending who you use). But the pros far outweigh the cons for us: you can avoid hiring expensive system administrators,your data transfer rates for remote employees is just as fast as the employees on-site and once you factor in salary, cloud providers become ridiculously cheap in comparison.

Heidi O’Gorman (owner of Carrick Marketing )
I have been using Google for online file storage for a couple of years. I do it for several reasons: as back-up to my other data backup and to share documents with my clients that they – or I – can access at any time, allowing collaboration in real time. That eliminates emailing documents back and forth and version control issues when one person makes a change and as many as 3-5 others may need to review it. The only difficulties I’ve encountered have been working with a couple of less computer savvy clients.

I think the greatest skepticism with regard to something like Google docs is mostly along the lines of “how can something so helpful be free?”. It’s the old no-such-thing-as-a-free-lunch argument.

Michael Ihns (owner of Improved Racing Products LLC )
The principal reason I chose a decentralized approach instead of maintaining one central server that every user can access is that it inherently creates redundant backups of our data on multiple machines and in multiple locations. If any one machine should fail, the data is safely stored accessible on multiple other machines. We no longer need to run external backups (although we still run them occasionally as an additional safety measure). We also use cloud computing to automatically generate hourly backups of our e-commerce website’s database. We haven’t had any major issues with cloud services. There are occasions where a file doesn’t synchronize properly or there is a conflict and we get outdated information.

I think the main reason many businesses are hesitant to use cloud services are the security concerns. A lot of companies simply cannot afford to take the risks involved with adopting new, emergent technologies until they have been proven and well-accepted. So for small, flexible businesses, aggressively adopting these technologies can be a logistical and strategic advantage.