Adoption of the Cloud: Is It Right for You?

By now, you’ve surely heard a lot about cloud computing. There’s no question that it’s here to stay, and numerous small businesses have already made the switch. When determining whether or not adoption of the cloud is right for your business, it’s crucial to consider both sides of the issue. There are many compelling advantages to switching over to the cloud, but there are potential drawbacks to keep in mind as well. Considering the pros and cons will make it easier for you to decide.

Pros of Cloud Computing for Small Businesses

First, let’s take a look at the upsides of switching to the cloud. There are several advantages which explains why the cloud has taken off in popularity. For small businesses, though, the most important advantages include:

Collaboration and Accessibility: When you send data to the cloud, the days of scrambling to meet with other team members  in person on a project is over. Regardless of where team members are located or when they like to work, they’ll be able to access files and accomplish tasks with ease. This leads to improved collaboration because it largely eliminates the need to be in the same place at the same time.

Scalability: Becoming bigger and more profitable is great, but accommodating these changes can be costly and overwhelming. With the cloud, there’s no need to invest in expensive equipment as your IT needs evolve. Adding more storage space and making other changes can be as easy as a quick phone call. So much for growing pains!

Affordability: The cloud is a cost-effective solution in more ways than one as it largely does away with the need to invest in costly IT equipment. Because you won’t be operating a lot of equipment, you should see reduced energy costs as well. In addition, there’s less need for IT personnel, so you’ll save on payroll expenses too.

Security: With the cloud, your data is kept at an off-site location. Should a flood, fire, or other disaster strike your business, your data will be completely secure. As long as it’s stored in a high-security data center, it should be effectively guarded from hackers and other threats.

Cons of Cloud Computing for Small Businesses

There’s a flip side to every coin, so there are drawbacks to switching entirely to the cloud as well. Fortunately, most of them can be handled so that they don’t negatively affect your ability to run a successful business. The top disadvantages include:

Unreliability: With the cloud, you’re at the mercy of your Internet connection. If the connection goes down, you may not be able to access your data. Furthermore, if your service provider is experiencing problems, you may be unable to access your data too. Luckily, these problems tend to be rare. If you’re dealing with extremely important data, it’s best to store duplicate copies locally for safekeeping.

Ownership: If you cancel your cloud services, what happens to your data? It should go back to you, but what if it’s left in cyberspace? Can someone else grab it and use it? This is a major concern, and the trick to dealing with this issue is to choose a reliable, experienced provider. When you set up your service, look over the fine print carefully to ensure that your data won’t inadvertently be left in cyberspace if later you decide to cancel your service.

Software Integration: Sometimes certain types of software don’t work well in the cloud. Check beforehand to make sure that extensions or plugins for your most crucial programs are available. The vast majority of popular programs work perfectly fine, so this won’t likely be a problem.

Security: Some small business owners can’t get comfortable with the idea of having their data stored off-site. Ask your provider plenty of questions on how your data will be kept secure. The data center should use redundant backups and several layers of protection to keep data safe. Don’t settle for less.

Depending on the type of business you operate, these pros and cons may or may not apply. The bottom line is, however, that the vast majority of small businesses stand to benefit enormously from making the switch.

We found this article at http://experts.allbusiness.com/guest_posts/adoption-cloud-right-for-you/#.U2rH9fldWSo