One of the many things cloud computing has accomplished is to level the playing field concerning the affordability of information technology. The hosted services available in the market place can provide almost anyone with a comprehensive IT solution with minimal CAPEX and OPEX. All it takes is a computing device and broadband connection to access Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) as well as communication, security and more. With the reliability of cloud technology no longer in question, small businesses should really start evaluating their IT investment, whether it is on premises or the cloud.
Cloud technology provides the delivery of on-demand computing resources through a network with public, private and hybrid models. It creates a flexible computing service with an elastic resource that can scale up or down quickly according to workload with a pay for use metered service.
Public cloud – offers access to computing resources over public networks by service providers delivering hardware, software or supporting infrastructure.
Private cloud – whether it is hosted or managed internally, externally or by a third party, it is operated for a single organization. It gives more control for companies that want to ensure their privacy with their own dedicated infrastructure. Having this control means needing IT personnel to manage the resources.
Hybrid cloud – based on the performance profile, organizations can choose a mix of public or private cloud for each service with dedicated and public infrastructure. It requires architecture planning as well as the personnel to support it.
Virtually every IT solution can now be accessed through the cloud, but SaaS, PaaS and IaaS are the most popular options in the market place.
Software as a service (SaaS) – cloud-based applications running in the cloud owned and operated by server’s providers connecting the computer of end-users through the Internet.
Platform as a service (PaaS) – eliminates the purchase and management of the underlying hardware, software, provisioning and hosting with a cloud-based environment supporting the entire lifecycle of building and delivering web-based (cloud) applications.
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) – provides organizations with a pay-per-use model for computing resources including servers, networking, storage and data center space.
Benefits of Cloud for Small Businesses
The greatest benefit of cloud services for small businesses is the number of technologies it makes available at affordable price points. The rapidly evolving IT ecosystem in which we operate today requires the vigilance and investment small organizations cannot afford. By leveraging cloud technologies, it is now possible to deploy the latest technological innovations to improve and strengthen the operations of the company across the board.
Security – cloud makes small businesses better by providing enterprise grade security in an increasingly hostile digital environment. Whether your cloud services is from Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce.com or another company, once you acquire their services you will be protected with their security expertise.
Better Mobile Workforce – cloud can bring the entire workforce of an organization together seamlessly to facilitate the current collaborative work environment. A mobile workforce has the flexibility and scalability to grow as needed, allowing small businesses to compete against their larger counterparts.
Collaboration – by bringing everyone within the organization together in one comprehensive solution, the entire operations of a business can be linked so everyone is aware of what is taking place up-to-the-minute. Cloud delivers the collaborative functionality to bring together customer service, accounts receivable, human resources, employees, partners, vendors and other parts of the company to track and manage everything for a more productive organization.
Better Data Control and Disaster Recovery – whether it is the result of a security breach or an unforeseen emergency, having your data on premises without the necessary backup can be devastating. With the company’s data in the cloud, if there is a crisis a disaster recovery procedure can be initiated immediately by the service provider and be available to everyone no matter where they are.
Cloud Vs. On-Premises
The problem with established systems is the individuals or organizations that use them seem to want an answer that chooses one over the other. But that is no longer the world we live in today. The answer can be anything, as long as it delivers improved efficiencies with a total cost of ownership (TCO) that makes the investment worthwhile. And depending on your needs, you might have to deploy a hybrid solution that incorporates the best of both worlds. So when it comes to making the decision on which platform to deploy, leave all your options open. And remember, at the end of the day, the goal is to introduce solutions that will make your business the best it can be.