The Interxion Cloud Survey conducted in 2011 examined the views of European decision-makers and influencers on cloud computing. The survey found that although 71 percent of large companies considered cloud computing as a top priority, the percentage of small business owners thinking the same was only marginally lower at 68 percent. It was also noted that smaller companies are the trail blazers of cloud computing in action. Of all the companies surveyed, 78 percent of small businesses showed the highest actual and planned cloud usage. So what is the cloud, and perhaps more importantly why do small businesses seem to love it so much?
What is the Cloud?
PC Magazine defines the cloud simply as a communications network. At the very core of things, this is an accurate description. A real understanding of the technology is gained when the word ‘computing’ is added into the mix. The term cloud computing is used to describe services that are delivered across the Internet.
How is the Cloud Accessed?
The advent of cloud computing has simplified and enhanced the way business is conducted, far more than any other technology has achieved in the past decade. The cloud provides software, data access, resources and storage to businesses of all sizes. Installation of costly and complex infrastructure does not come into the equation since cloud-based applications are accessed via a small desktop app or web browser.
What’s so good about Cloud Computing?
Cost Savings – — Perhaps the most easily identifiable benefit of cloud computing is the cost. There’s virtually no barrier to entry where cost is concerned, making the technology perfect for small businesses and start-up companies. Cloud-based applications are charged on a monthly pay-as-you-use basis. Although prices vary between companies, a few dollars per user per month is the norm. Discounts are awarded to those paying annually but this is not strictly necessary. Google Apps provides one of the most cost effective ways for small companies to get in on the act. Their service is free for up to ten users.
Scalable Technology – Cloud computing is completely scalable. Small businesses can start off with what they need and scale upwards according to growth. It’s just a matter of ordering extra server space and adding additional users. It’s a lot like electricity in that it’s a utility that is available instantly on demand.
Minimum IT Infrastructure – A small business may not have a surplus of funds to invest in complicated and expensive IT infrastructure such as a powerful server. Cloud computing removes the need to purchase costly IT infrastructure; it’s all hosted by the provider. The need for on-site technical support is also largely redundant. Take these things together and small businesses and start-up companies are looking at some pretty significant savings.
Cloud computing services are changing the face of modern businesses. Many small business owners have already taken the plunge and embraced the technology. In doing so, they are reaping rewards and benefits that are normally the preserve of large corporations.
Joe Barrie is a freelance writer living in Florida. He writes on business topics for DegreeJungle.com and other industry sites.