Cloud on demand enables businesses of all sizes to access and use technology that was once only available at a hefty price tag. Instead of investing in expensive hardware and software licenses for computing power, storage and applications, a business can pay only for the service it needs at the moment and adjust as its needs change.
Although cloud storage and backup is already a popular business solution, cloud on demand goes far beyond freeing up hard drive space. Here's how the cloud can make your business more profitable and agile.
Lower cost equals fewer hurdles
Business profitability often hinges on keeping infrastructure expenses as low as possible while still being able to provide the level of service customers expect. A traditional business computing model is expensive.
Servers, for example, require a large upfront investment, but the total cost of ownership is much more than just its purchase price.
An on-site server carries recurring expenses over its lifespan. Prior to being placed into service, new servers have to be installed, configured and tested, which takes time and money. After the new hardware is online, ongoing costs include:
- Utility expenses: The electricity for a single server could cost $1,000 a year. Depending on the size and number of servers required, this can be a considerable expense. Server rooms also have HVAC installed to ensure that the equipment does not overheat. Server room cooling can add considerably to your business utility expense.
- Personnel: An on-site server does not manage itself. Your IT department will have to maintain and administer the server. This may involve added personnel expenses or less-than-optimal use of your IT resources.
- Downtime: When your servers or system is down, your customers cannot shop your e-commerce site, access information or receive your services. Every minute you have not restored service you are losing both revenue and reputation.
Cloud on demand slashes these expenses by moving the responsibility of owning and maintaining hardware, such as a server, from the business to a cloud service provider. These Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions can make the typical four- or five-year life cycle of a server essentially a nonissue for a business. Instead of purchasing, installing, configuring and testing new hardware, the business enters a service agreement with a cloud provider that can guarantee minimal downtime by utilizing continuity technology.
The cloud also provides Software as a Service (SaaS), where applications are hosted and delivered over the internet. Expenses can be reduced through cloud software distribution because instead of buying software licenses, users have a variety of flexible purchasing options, such as a subscription. Examples of SaaS solutions include: customer relations management, such as Salesforce; invoicing software, such as FreshBooks; and collaboration applications, like Slack.
Configurability equals scalability
In the past, when a business required an expensive technology, it would have to either overcommit resources into buying something that was bigger than it needed, or compromise on performance for the sake of saving money. These compromises - a smaller server, for example - might curtail business growth in the face of unexpected opportunity. Cloud-based storage and backup services offer flexible solutions that work within the uncertainties of the startup and small business world, minimizing costs while maximizing profit potential.
Ease of implementation equals business flexibility
In addition to increased agility and lowered costs, cloud services are designed to be easy to implement. Many businesses lack the resources for the kind of skilled technical staff required to administer services on-site, and cloud services solve this by eliminating the need for a high level of technical sophistication. Cloud-based services allow businesses to streamline operations and, in some cases, the actual products and services they deliver. This empowers businesses to innovate and optimize their existing products and services.
Cloud solutions permit employees to coordinate schedules, tasks, calendars and documents. These solutions enable an unprecedented level of collaboration and productivity, none of which would be useful if on-site support teams were necessary for implementation.
In addition, these services come packaged with support and training resources that allow for seamless deployment while minimizing downtime in the future. Often, the services include robust integrated application suites, testing ability and access to analytics previously inaccessible to smaller businesses.