If you’re a small business owner you’re always looking for effective ways to save time while maximizing productivity. The next big trend in computers is set to do just that and from the perspective of an IT company, the value proposition of cloud computing is worth noting.
If you’re familiar with Web 2.0 and all of the joys that brought, then you’re probably aware of the term cloud computing and have heard it once or twice. Like all of these tech buzz words though it’s important to get a clear definition of what it is, and then look at the benefits and disadvantages.
Cloud Computing Defined: As a metaphor for the Internet, “the cloud” is a familiar cliché, but when combined with “computing,” the meaning gets bigger and fuzzier. Simply put, cloud computing encompasses any subscription-based or pay-per-use service that, in real time over the Internet, extends a businesses existing capabilities without the need for in house hardware or infrastructure costs. Cloud computing is in its early stages still but examples range from email marketing to customer relationship software, to more technical uses such as online antivirus and spam filtering to backup solutions. One thing is for certain though; As cloud computing continues to grow its market segment, it makes more and more sense for small businesses to take advantage of it.
Advantages of Cloud Computing:
- Reduced Cost: Cloud technology is paid incrementally, saving organizations money.
- Increased Storage: Organizations can store more data than on private computer systems.
- Highly Automated: No longer do IT personnel need to worry about keeping software up to date.
- Flexibility: Cloud computing offers much more flexibility than past computing methods.
- More Mobility: Employees can access information wherever they are, rather than having to remain at their desks.
Cons of Cloud Computing:
- Dependant on Internet Connection: Internet connectivity isn’t completely stable and reliable – even in Canada US. For cloud computing to be completely accessible anywhere, we’ll probably need to wait a few more years for the internet service providers to step up to the plate.
- Security: We live in age of increased security and laws surrounding it. Sending data outside the company firewall is still a concern and should be investigated thoroughly before moving any services to the cloud.
- Features might be limited: This situation is bound to change, but today many web-based applications simply aren’t as full-featured as their desktop-based brethren. For example, you can do a lot more with Microsoft PowerPoint than with Google Presentation’s web-based offering.
- Can be slow: Even on a fast connection, web-based applications can sometimes be slower than accessing a similar software program on your desktop PC. Everything about the program, from the interface to the current document, has to be sent back and forth from your computer to the computers in the cloud. If the cloud servers happen to be backed up at that moment, or if the Internet is having a slow day, you won’t get the instantaneous access you might expect from desktop apps.
As you can see cloud computing is still in its infancy, and the pros and cons are tightly matched. Bottom line is that you need to approach working in the cloud on a case by case basis. There’s always a case for cost savings, productivity, and increased availability, but match that up against the security risk of what you’re putting out there, along with the platform you’re putting it, and the support of that.
For more information on cloud computing, contact Partek IT Solutions.