Cloud computing seems to have taken over the business world – or at least, discussions about cloud computing certainly have. Whether or not hopping on the bandwagon and moving your business’s systems to the cloud is the right choice for you depends on several factors. You need to understand what the benefits and pitfalls of cloud computing mean for your business. Will the benefits of the cloud help you reap greater business rewards? Or will the pitfalls make your systems an unworkable and inefficient mess?
Benefits of the Cloud
Whether you build your own cloud or access a public or private cloud through a third party server, there are a number of benefits you can gain from moving your systems online. Many business applications have mobile or online versions of their software – from payroll and time and attendance tracking systems to sales software and CRM systems, the benefits are numerous.
- Your IT costs are reduced in several ways. You don’t need to hire IT professionals to manage and maintain your software systems – the cost of software upkeep is rolled into the cost of the cloud service. Furthermore, the reduced computing load on your server and computer systems saves on your power consumption and wear and tear on hardware.
- When you purchase a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS), you don’t have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars up-front for the software. Rather, the cost is spread out over the course of the year in the form of a monthly usage fee. This enables you to test out different software without committing significant funds. Many providers offer their services in a tiered pricing structure, allowing you to increase or decrease your services (and fee) in accordance with your business needs and budget.
- Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of cloud computing is the ability to access your business programs from anywhere with a wireless or internet connection. This can prove especially beneficial for businesses with traveling, mobile, or remote staff, all of whom need to access the same databases and applications. If you choose to outsource some or all of your business functions, your employees can work from anywhere with the same functionality as your on-premise staff.
Cloud Issues and Special Considerations
While the benefits of cloud computing are numerous, there are some special considerations and other issues that you should take into account before proceeding with transitioning all your systems online. Be aware of how these issues will affect your business’s situation and determine for yourself whether the benefits outweigh the pitfalls of what cloud computing really means for you.
- Cloud computing, by definition, necessitates a steady and sufficient internet connection. Ask your service provider how much of a load your applications should put on your connection; you may need to increase your bandwidth usage or connection speed in order to keep your internet running well.
- Make sure to thoroughly vet your service provider’s contract and Service Level Agreement. You don’t want to find yourself forced to fulfill the terms of a contract with a company that doesn’t offer sufficient support. Their customer service line should be 24/7 and included as part of your service package.
- You should also ensure that any programs that need to work together – your payroll and attendance systems, for example – have plugins or extensions available to make software integration easy and error-free.
Ted Levin is a freelance writer and editor. He enjoys writing about social media, content marketing, and storytelling.