Cloud computing is simply utilizing services on the Internet to conduct business such as document file sharing, contact management, and other Internet-based programs. All working documents and relevant information is stored securely online (in the “cloud”) rather than living physically on your local computer hard drive.
Cloud computing has become a big trend in business. Here are five reasons to take it seriously:
The main advantage of cloud computing is mobility. Using a web-based service means that your documents are available wherever you have Internet access, making it easy to work from home. You can also take advantage of many central information sites to collaborate with colleagues and clients.
Cloud-based services are also updated immediately. Programmers work behind the scenes to make small fixes and enhance functionality, meaning you don’t have to wait for a new version release. With your program in the cloud, you eliminate the need for downloading versions, upgrades and other fixes directly to your personal computer.
Another attractive element of cloud computing is the cost. Traditional boxed software stored directly on a computer or server can be extremely expensive and have limitations on the number of people that can use the program simultaneously. Many companies now provide a cloud-based version of their programs for a small monthly fee (some offer free trial versions to customers). Cloud computing is a great way to reduce large up-front costs and scale your costs based on only the computer programs you truly need.
One of the most overlooked advantages to cloud computing is integration. Many cloud programs are designed to work with other services seamlessly. For example, through the cloud, you can link the basics of email with your contact management, and file sharing services. Patriot Software’s cloud-based payroll integrates with time and attendance and human resources software. Integrating all your functions can transform the way you do business, making you more efficient and freeing up more time to serve your customers.
What happens when you keep all your documents on your hard drive and then face the unfortunate situation of a computer crash? Keeping documents on a cloud server eliminates the risk of losing important information should your hard drive crash. Even if you do keep documents on your local computer, a cloud-based program is a great back-up to assure you always have copies of your most critical files.
When looking at cloud computing services, be sure to research all available options. Make a list of programs you regularly use, research cloud versions available from the same provider, and compare it to other similar programs. You can find great reviews of most products online to give you insight on features, integration capabilities, and customer service.