Simply put, “The Cloud” is the Internet. That big ol’ Internet in the sky that gives you your emails.
While this is a largely simplistic explanation, it’s not wrong. The cloud is the virtual space outside of your building that houses your databases, recovery volumes and thin client applications.
Whether you’re using the cloud for basic business purposes like email or mobile banking, advanced financial and ERM software, or even cloud backup and recovery, the ability to work in this virtual space gives small businesses a multitude of options to streamline operations and run a tighter ship (even if it’s mostly invisible).
Let’s take a closer look at 3 key ways cloud computing is helping SMBs increase their productivity.
Working with a virtual space or “cloud” offers a great deal of flexibility. Say goodbye to the days of buying hardware and software. Now you can create, use, store, and manipulate data using applications “in the cloud.”
The first (and most appreciable) aspect of cloud-based applications is the flexibility they offer budgets, as purchasing software and hardware outright represents a huge barrier to entry.
Instead, thin-client or subscription-based business tools are available online for a monthly fee. Commonly known as Software as a Service (SaaS), this cloud-based service model allows businesses to stay up-to-date at a much lower price than buying expensive software suites outright.
Popular SaaS programs include Adobe Creative Cloud products like Photoshop or InDesign, Microsoft Office products and many more.
Additionally, SaaS allows businesses to quickly change and adapt as newer, better technology is released. As your business stretches and grows, you’ll need more functionality for more users. Instead of being locked in to a particular software package, you can experiment to find the technology options that best suit your business needs.
The same model is used for cloud hardware, too. Need more storage space? Done. Instead of shelling out for monstrous hardware costs, you’ll find that upgrading offsite equipment is less stressful and expensive while achieving the same result.
By paying for usage instead of hardware and disks, the cloud makes your business agile and efficient.
Most small businesses are failing woefully at backing up their environments. A large percentage either do no backup at all, or fail to review backups to ensure they are happening. Generally, backups are done manually on the file level and saved to an external hard drive or worse: on tape. These kinds of incomplete backups are themselves vulnerable to damage or loss, which is a serious threat to any business, large or small.
Leverage an offsite data center for your backups. These cloud backups are convenient and can be scheduled to occur automatically. And since recovery volumes are stored offsite, even if your entire town falls into a sinkhole, you can get your data back in a flash without fear of corruption or loss.
Cloud backup can even be done on the image level, which creates a virtual copy of the device (a snapshot of your computer). If the original device fails, this image can easily be applied to a new device that will then look and appear exactly like the old one. This sort of recovery cuts the down-time to an absolute minimum following a disaster, which is critical to small businesses whose livelihood depends on their ability to serve their customers fast.
Data centers make it their business to keep their customers’ data safe. Their reputation and livelihood depends on keeping the bad guys out and maintaining redundant copies of your data to protect against loss and corruption. Because of this, security is kept top-notch.
The best data centers and virtual hosts employ biometric scanners to physically protect against damage and data theft. They are environmentally controlled to protect against heat, fire and moisture. They are built as ideal locations to warehouse and store your company’s most valuable asset: your data.
Share documents, attend virtual meetings, work remotely and deliver exceptional customer service. The cloud gives you the tools to run like a Fortune 500 company even if you have fewer than 50 employees.
At Dynamic Quest, one of our clients uses connected tablets to perform fleet inspections at clients’ facilities. Their technicians evaluate each truck’s tire condition and log that data into a cloud-based database. Scripts then detect when a tire is nearing its end of life and emails the station manager a detailed status report – all before the technician leaves the facility.This is just one of the ways our clients are leveraging cloud-based solutions to increase productivity and streamline their operations.
Imagine reaching such a high level of customer service through the intelligent use of cloud-based technology. The future is here, kiddos. Strap in.
Interested in learning more about cloud-based solutions, or would like to speak with a Dynamic Quest tech team expert about how you can leverage cloud-based technologies and even set up a private cloud inside your organization? Please let us know. We’d love to speak with you and our tech experts are standing by.