What is the Impact of Cloud Computing on Small Business?

By | June 23, 2011

Cloud computing is the using of computers, owned by a company other than your own, to run all your computing needs ranging from word processing to email, including all manner of complex data programs. It has the potential to change the entire IT industry.

This all means your local computers will no longer have to carry all the work when it comes to running various applications. Instead, a computer network will create a ‘cloud’ that does all the heavy work for them and the requirement to buy hardware and software for each individual computer will substantially decrease. All that is needed by the user in order to access the cloud will be the cloud’s interface software which could be no more than a web browser. The network takes over from there.

You may not be aware of it but you will have probably been using cloud computing yourself for some time. Using a web based email account such as Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail is nothing more than cloud computing. Preferable to running your own email account on your own computer that will eventually tie up your memory, you may have taken one of the web based email accounts where you remotely log in to where your account is stored, on the service’s computer cloud, not your own computer.

There are three main advantages for a small business to use cloud computing, they are:

1. Collaboration. As your business gets bigger and you take on more employees it becomes harder to link up everybody’s individual computer. Cloud computing will allow a simple and easy solution where employees can collaborate seamlessly no matter how much your team grows, which in turn will increase productivity.

2. Convenience. The amount of information and data you need to retain will also grow substantially as your small business gets bigger. It is much more convenient to store all this information in a cloud computing system where automatic updating takes place, making it faster to access and more convenient for everybody involved.

3. Cost. The cost of using cloud computing is minimal; another attractive feature for a small business that is always looking for ways to restrain growing costs in all areas.
All small business operators are aware of the importance of scaling back unnecessary spending, and when you don’t have to continually upgrade memory and applications on your own local network of computers, a cloud computing system can be quite an attractive alternative.

With a cloud computing service at hand your small business will be able to scale its own resources to best suit its own requirements, depending on the infrastructure and level of service required. This means you will only be paying for your level of usage. Your cost level will grow as your business grows, when you start demanding more support, features or services, but as your business grows so too will your income, to keep up with those costs. As there are no big upfront costs involved, you can compete with the ‘big boys’ right from the start on a level playing field and you will be able to take advantage of trying out different business strategies, without having to use expensive resources too early.

Drawbacks of Cloud Computing Systems

As with everything else in life, there are downsides that also have to be taken into account and cloud computing is no exception. However, in this case the drawbacks are limited to security and privacy issues alone. These issues arise because cloud computing is quite a complicated process but your level of concern in this area can depend on the reliability of your provider. Some cloud computing providers may occasion a security or service issue where everything is shared on the one platform. These issues will be subjected to your own due diligence when selecting a provider.

Security Issues

Many small business owners might have reservations about entrusting their company records and secrets to another company. It does away with the long held notion of having such sensitive material kept under lock and key where only certain trusted people can access it. The answer to this concern has to be placed in the hands of the provider, as a good and responsible cloud computing provider will need to convince you that they are willing to live and die for their reputations. These providers will have to put in place reliable security measures, if they fail to do so they would not be expected to remain in the business for long.

Privacy Concerns

Privacy concerns are also real. If a client can log in from different locations around the world, the notion that the client’s privacy could be compromised becomes more of a possibility. These privacy matters can be overcome with accepted techniques such as strong and unique passwords and user names, another way is to limit each individual user to only being able to access applications relevant to his or her job requirements.

Another issue worth contemplating is of course the issue of ownership of the material being held by the cloud computing provider, would it be possible for a provider to deny access for any reason? These issues are a matter of ongoing debate at the present time.

Kristy Ramirez writes for Life Insurance Finder where she helps people to compare life insurance quotes and select the best life insurance policy to meet their needs at the best possible price.