The benefits of cloud computing for small businesses (part 1)

Cloud computing is incredibly popular right now but many people do not realise the range of services it provides. It has become commonplace for companies to provide customers with extra data storage within the cloud, in which they can save images, music and files and then remotely access them anywhere around the world. Although data storage can be useful, the cloud can also be used to host software and services which can then be rented on a pay per use basis. Large businesses have been outsourcing this way for a while now but with lower prices and greater accessibility, smaller companies can finally benefit from all this service has to offer.

The cloud contains three levels of services, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). IaaS and PaaS tend to be aimed at developers and companies that are large enough to have their own computer installation, however SaaS can be an invaluable tool for smaller businesses. SaaS allows users’ access to software and applications without the need to purchase and install the programs in-house, companies pay monthly rather than purchasing the computer packages outright. Another benefit with this type of arrangement is that businesses do not have to waste time and resources in hiring and training software specialists, all of the maintenance is taken care of by the cloud vendor.

One of the problems that small businesses have is that they do not have the same capital and resources as larger companies but they still need to operate different departments e.g. finance, HR. Thanks to cloud computing, many managers are now able to outsource these tasks, freeing themselves up to focus more attention on expanding the business. By allowing smaller companies some of the freedoms of larger corporations, we may see a shift in the future with the business landscape becoming flatter and more connected.

Although the cloud has a multitude of benefits, especially for smaller companies, it can also have its pitfalls. There are certain factors that should be kept in mind when considering a move into cloud computing, including price and most importantly security. In part 2 we will discuss the risks involved and whether the potential gains outweigh such risks…