Why Small Businesses Love Cloud Services
Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
If anything’s beating out the skyrocketing growth of the mobile app market, I’d put my money on cloud services. These days, you can do everything in the cloud except your dry cleaning (or can you?). Here’s a look at some of the industries and companies that are moving into the cloud computing services arena for small businesses.
Storage and Sharing
Remember hard drives–those clunky things that sat on your desk that you never remembered to use for backup? Well you can use yours as a doorstop now, thanks to cloud services that offer virtual storage. With these services, small businesses can back up data, share files online and designate a place for everyone to collaborate on project documents.
- Dropboxallows for digitally storing documents and photos, with sharing capabilities for your team. Also has a mobile version.
- Google Docsmakes sharing a spreadsheet or word processing document easy, and you don’t have to keep track of emailed versions of documents.
- Jungle Diskoffers both personal and business desktop and server backup at a reasonable price.
We’re also moving away from hard-wired phone lines, thanks to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) computer cloud services. Whether you use a traditional style VoIP phone, your computer or a mobile phone, using the Internet to stream calls can save small businesses a bundle.
- Skypeis well-known for its audio and video calls, and also has a mobile version.
- Panasonic recently released itsCloud Business Phone Systemfor businesses with 10 or fewer employees. It includes hardware (cordless phones at that) with VoIP.
- Google Voicegives you one number for multiple phones, as well as virtual voicemail. ItsTalkproduct lets you chat through your computer for free.
Other Business Cloud Computing Services
The list goes on and on. You can balance your business books withQuickBooks Online. Send faxes without a machine withBizCom’scloud-based fax solution. Teach and take online courses atUdemy. If it’s not imperative that you do the task in-person, there’s probably a cloud version for it.
Going cloud-based for your small business can realize savings (compare paying a few dollars a month to back up your data versus buying a physical server that needs updating), give more of your employees access to important documents, and help you communicate no matter where you are.
Are There Thunder Clouds As Well?
While, yes, I’m all Suzy Sunshine about cloud computing services, be aware that by using them, you lose control of who manages your data. If you’re outsourcing, say, your backup to a third party, as CNN Technology notes, they may not take theextreme measuresyou would to encrypt data to prevent breaches. Could a jilted ex-employee of that cloud company take out his anger on your data? Could happen. Servers crash, even for larger companies likeSony,as CNet reports.
There’s no surefire way to prevent problems in the cloud, but here are a few ways to minimize your risk:
- Have data backed up on multiple sources–your office computers, as well as one or two cloud backup services.
- Discuss risk mitigation with your service provider. How do they protect your data?
- For cloud-based communication, have a backup in case your Internet goes down in the middle of a sales call.
Courtesy: Small Biz Trends