September 2, 2014

Small Business in the Cloud

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Heard of “the cloud” and how it can benefit your small business? We thought so! The talk is everywhere as small business owners evaluate this new idea as a means for saving money and eliminating regular upgrades. If you haven’t thought much about the cloud and its uses for your small business (or if you haven’t even got any idea of what we’re talking about), don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place.

Overview

What is cloud computing? You’ve heard the buzz. It’s everywhere, including in small business circles, the idea of chucking the in-house management responsibilities for your company’s IT functions and of starting to run those systems “in the cloud.” But what does this all mean and what can it do for your business? Read on to learn more. InfoTech

Policy

Cloud revolution threatened by government regs? While members of the small business and even consumer community are understandably wary of the security and other issues connected with storing their data remotely, with improvements by those providing the service these concerns will be overcome, a recent op ed claims. The real danger? Government over-regulation. The Washington Examiner

Trends

Small businesses seek security in the cloud. Instead of taking the chance that one of your computers in your home or office is damaged, destroyed or stolen taking all or most of your critical business information with it, many small businesses see the advantage of renting space on someone else’s server and being able to access it anytime, anywhere with an Internet connection. The Sydney Morning Herald

Opinion

Not everyone trusts cloud computing for SMBs. While Adam Caplan of Model Metrics, a cloud application provider, insists that cloud computing is not only safer but “more democratic” especially for small business owners with fewer resources to invest in IT, others are not so sure. Got an opinion on the cloud for your small business? Leave it below. We’d like to know where you stand. Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Research

Small business owners need help, education. Despite the fact that many small business owners in a recent survey suggested their IT fits their needs but is not exceptional (and despite the fact that it clearly divides resources better focused on the company’s core business) most small businesses seem unaware of the advantages cloud computing offers. Small Business Trends

But do they even care? Considering that cloud computing advocates have focused on the benefits for the small business owner, who now need not make huge investments in technology and infrastructure to get state-of-the-art IT services in line with a larger competitor, the same survey shows how few SMBs have any intention of taking advantage. IT Business Edge

Operations

Why cloud computing can be great for your small business. Get all of the benefits with none of the headaches. Mike Kraus argues that cloud computing offers a win-win for small businesses and a way to say goodbye to upgrades, patches and fixes forever. Some cloud services, like Google docs, are free while others may require a monthly or annual fee, but otherwise you face the ongoing task of managing everything yourself. AllBusiness

Resources

Where to learn more. “Separating the myths and facts” in cloud computing is the focus of a free upcoming Webinar looking at how use of “the cloud” will affect your business in the long run. Be sure to register for this free online event (follow the link above) and to learn more about how and whether cloud computing can benefit your small business. BusinessFinance

Products

Another alternative to cloud computing. A California company will demonstrate a new “private cloud appliance” later this week. The technology would seem to be a hybrid between a “public” cloud solution with data stored on third party servers and a private system with the overall benefit of reducing IT overhead, but given the considerable cost of deploying the system, those savings would need to be significant indeed. Are you familiar with this product? Have you heard of it or seen it being demonstrated? Sys-Con Media

Management

Measuring costs and benefits. Even if cloud computing is an overall benefit to most businesses as advocates suggest, companies have yet to devise a means of measuring those benefits adequately or of weighing the costs of cloud computing when compared to updating and maintaining existing in-house software and hardware. What data will you use to decide whether cloud computing is right or is working for your business? ZDNet

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  1. One of the principal benefits of the cloud to small business is that it actually levels the playing field. As small businesses, we are now starting to get access to the same state-of-the art systems employed by huge companies, just because cloud software is so scalable. Look at best-in-breed customer service software like ZenDesk or Get Satisfaction. Huge companies are deploying these solutions, but small companies can also implement them for a few dollars a month. The same is true of management apps like Netsuite and the 37 Signals software. That’s the beauty of the pay-per-user or per usage profile pricing systems typically used by cloud software vendors.

  2. Say no, very true. 20 years ago, a lot of technology was out of reach for small businesses — only big businesses could afford it. Now small businesses can, too, and it takes away some of the advantage of being big with a big pocketbook.

  3. how it can benefit with small business? thanks for your info

  4. I am against cloud computing. This is just a new name to make it easier to sell to people who don’t know what this is. I already have another business owner having issues with speed and internet connection problems with a new cloud application. Don’t like the lack of security of customer information either. Insurance companies have too much access now. David Johnson/R&R Body Shop

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