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Cloud Computing – A Viable Option for Small to Midsize Businesses

Cloud computing represents a fundamental change in the way consumers and businesses are using their computers and mobile devices. It’s an option that small businesses cannot afford to overlook. “Cloud” is just another name for the Internet and really refers to any services and applications that are hosted and accessed via the web.  In the software world, this is also commonly referred to as Software-as-a-Service or SaaS.

Cloud computing allows small businesses to remotely access software or services from virtually any device with Internet access. Small businesses can also use cloud computing technology to boost their storage capacity via online storage services and create online backup and archiving accounts.

It also allows small businesses to save on expensive hardware, software, and maintenance costs since data and applications are being held on remote servers. Users can access their business services and applications through almost any device with an Internet connection. Adding new users to the system is when you need them.

A breakdown of cloud computing:

    • Reduced Capital Expense:
      • No upfront capital expense for software, hardware, operating systems or terminal servers.
    • Budgeted System Maintenance:
      • SaaS provider performs the backup, schedules maintenance on the equipment and databases and covers hardware failures.
    • Change User Numbers:
      • Change your user count up or down every month as your needs change.
    • Adjust Hardware as Your Needs Change:
      • SaaS provider can adjust your computing power as your requirements change.
    • Deployment Flexibility:
      • Receive the benefits of a hosted, on-demand solution with the option of migrating to an on-premise deployment at any time should your needs change.
    • Customization Flexibility:
      • Some cloud software versions may allow customizations to meet your unique processes and take advantage of industry-specific versions.
    • Buying Flexibility:
      • SaaS offerings allow you to purchase a perpetual license or a subscription, which allows you to pick the purchasing manner that best fits your needs and financial goals.
    • Rent versus Own:
      • You are generally buying service, not software.  There is generally no credit for past payments if you decide to purchase the software.
    • Data Ownership
      • The ability to retain ownership of all your data and processes is important, so ask who owns your data.
    • Implementation Services
        • While the software costs are month to month, or year to year, the monthly cost does not include the implementation services.

Cloud computing may sound too good to be true for your businesses, and depending on your situation, it may be.  There is no one right answer.  However, many businesses can benefit from cloud computing.