Working in the cloud—accessing documents and applications through remote servers over the Internet rather than on a personal computer or a local server—frees up time and resources. Business owners around the world are moving the responsibility of managing software, hardware and document security to the cloud so they can focus on running their companies.
The cloud is flexible and affordable. Read the answers to the following cloud questions to see how else businesses are benefiting.
Why should I use the cloud?
Working in the cloud allows you to access the software and services you need when you need them, from any Internet-connected device. Rather than paying for software and hardware you might access only occasionally, you pay only for the services you use—allowing your company to work more productively and cost-effectively and to gain the capabilities of a larger business.
What can the cloud help me do?
Cloud providers offer applications and services that can help with the most important tasks involved in running a successful company. This includes accounting systems to manage finances and billing; customer relationship management programs to track contacts and sales leads; document sharing systems that let employees collaborate on documents in real time from different locations; and human resources applications that help with employee records and training.
Is the cloud easy to use?
Your company starts using cloud-based programs and services simply by signing up. The cloud provider runs everything so there is no hardware to configure or software to install. This “on-demand” quality makes it easy to ramp up or reduce your use of services as your business needs shift.
How can the cloud help me save money?
Cloud computing offers new opportunities for businesses with limited access to resources. With the cloud, you can access services to run your business without having to purchase and maintain extra hardware or pay for software licensing fees. You typically pay a low per-use fee or a low monthly cost based on the number of employees using the service.
How can the cloud make my team more productive?
A key benefit of cloud computing is that you and your employees can access programs, documents and e-mails at home or on the road simply by logging in from an Internet-connected computer or smartphone. This provides added flexibility to help meet deadlines. Documents are stored online, so there’s no danger of losing important files. Cloud-based conferencing services give access to virtual meeting spaces almost instantly so you can connect with employees and clients around the world and collaborate on documents, brainstorm ideas or present new products or services to remote clients.
How does the cloud allow for growth?
Cloud-based resources are scalable, which makes them easier to support growth and accommodate high-demand periods. For example, if your website needs to accommodate spikes in traffic, having it hosted in the cloud allows you to add extra capacity when you need it. This can help prevent the site from going down during a peak sales period or if too many visitors access the site at the same time.
What factors should I consider when selecting a provider?
Cloud service providers have the resources to keep data and applications highly secure through high-level encryption, guarded data centers, continuous server monitoring and other measures. This helps protect your information from outside intruders and ensures its safety in case a fire, flood or other disaster strikes your facility. The risk of losing sensitive customer data is less because the information is stored in the cloud and not on your laptop or a USB stick. Before committing to a cloud service provider, be sure to ask about the specific measures they use to keep data safe.
What if the cloud service goes down?
Applications and services delivered through the cloud are often faster and more reliable than in-house ones, particularly if your servers or other systems are aging. If an outage occurs, cloud service providers can usually resolve problems more quickly than small businesses with limited IT resources. Many providers have multiple data centers to help ensure that your information is always available so you experience less downtime.
A big thanks to American Express for this article!