Why the cloud? Think of the cloud as the new data center, the new machine shop, the new steam engine, the new printing press. It will be the heart of heart of many businesses and an essential process tool for others.
There are two prime needs that are driving this shift to cloud solutions. One is the desire to reduce costs, both capital expenses and operation expenses, and tie the level of expenditures more closely with the level of business. The other need is closely related. It is the need for agility to survive and prosper within any business climate.
Both of these needs have risen to prominence in this protracted downturn. Business cycles are normal. Companies are accustomed to going with the flow. You expand when things are booming and contract or at least hold your own when things slow. In a few months or a year business picks up again.
Well, that’s how it was for decades. What’s different this time is both the depth and the duration of the pull back. Companies that found themselves locked into expenses based on normal business levels are in a pickle. Some have been unable to weather the storm and have had to fold their tents. Others, in better shape, have taken notice and are making moves to prevent getting caught in an untenable situation themselves.
This is where the cloud is starting to look attractive. Cloud services that were once only available to large companies with massive processing needs have been scaled down to suit smaller and medium size businesses. The more important computers and/or the Internet are to running your business, the more useful the cloud can be. If you use PCs, tablets, smartphones, or business telephones, there are cloud solutions that are right for you.
What moves to the cloud? Servers, of course. You replace racks full of servers in the back room or a environmentally controlled data center with virtual servers that you run remotely. Those servers run your business applications, often in the form of Software as a Service (SaaS). Accounting, marketing, customer service, sales, inventory control, team collaboration, project management, billing and invoicing, ecommerce, human resources, and transaction processing are examples of what can be done in the cloud. Specialized servers power your business phones from the cloud.
Your cloud servers, storage and public facing bandwidth replace similar IT resources within your company. There difference is that you are now renting these resources rather than owning and operating them. You no longer have to make the equipment investment or perform the maintenance, upgrades and repairs. You don’t have to be concerned about data backups because these can be setup to run automatically within the cloud.
The other thing that you have with cloud solutions is the agility to scale your operations up or down at will. The physical cloud has more resources than you can ever use yourself. You can add and subtract servers and drives, often immediately with online control. You pay only for what you use while you are using it. When business slows, you back off to meet your new needs. When things pick up, you add resources as you need to and can afford to pay for from an increasing revenue stream.
Do you feel that your company would be better able to deal with uncertain business conditions if you could easily adjust technical resources and expenses? If so, you should consider taking advantage of cloud computing and communications services on a scale that makes sense for your business.