How Cloud Software Benefits Small Businesses

As technology continues to advance, it’s no surprise that new ways of doing business emerge. Although adjusting to new technologies can be challenging for some, companies that incorporate the latest trends and advances in information technology (IT) will gain an advantage over their competitors. Currently there is major shift in the computer software industry that is presenting efficient and effective solutions to companies of all sizes: Cloud software.

Cloud-based software is fast-becoming the preferred choice for businesses seeking convenient, affordable and secure ways to manage important data and run business applications. I wrote this piece on cloud computing for the equipment leasing company I work for.

Reach for the Cloud

It’s very likely you have heard of cloud computing or are using it to some capacity at your business. For example, if your business uses Gmail, you are currently using a cloud-based email application. Some of the biggest, most well-known brands are using cloud-based technology, and for good reason.Cloud-based software, or web-based software, allows you to run multiple computer applications over the Internet, without having to install or maintain software. This means you can run applications and access business files with just an Internet connection and browser, whether on a desktop computer, laptop or mobile device.

There are many ways that businesses like yours are increasing their productivity by incorporating cloud computing into their business operations. The following are five ways cloud-based software can benefit your growing business.

1. Capability

When using traditional in-house software and servers, your computing capabilities are limited to what your IT department can manage and the physical limitations of your business space. Plus, buying new hardware and managing software updates can be time-consuming and doesn’t allow you to effectively utilize your IT resources.

Cloud-based software allows business owners to run a number of applications over the Internet, from word processing to database management, depending on the business needs. For those businesses that rely on the most up-to-date information, whether in sales, accounting or customer service, cloud software allows users to access data in real-time from any location. Cloud-based software also provides extensive data storage capacity online. This eliminates the need to acquire new hardware and servers.

The myriad capabilities offered with cloud-based software are available in several unique platforms. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model affords your business the most convenience and flexibility. However, there are two other approaches that can be used for your business. Following is an overview of the top-three:

Software as a Service (SaaS)

The SaaS cloud computing model is managed completely by the vendor. Everything related to your cloud software, from business applications and upgrades to servers and data storage, is handled by the SaaS provider.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

With PaaS cloud computing, you can create, customize and manage business applications for your company with the help of preexisting tools and framework. Your PaaS vendor will handle storage, networking, etc.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

This cloud setup focuses exclusively on virtual data storage. The IaaS cloud vendor provides cloud-based servers, network and storage equipment, and you add the necessary business software and related application.

2. Security

Security of important data is a concern for any business owner; however, cloud-based software can help minimize security risks by storing data safely on secure servers instead of your server room. Since servers are not located on-site, unexpected power outages due to natural disasters or other service interruptions will have no impact on the security of your business data. However, in the event that files are misplaced or compromised, most cloud-based software providers provide disaster recovery and backup to ensure your business continues to run efficiently and without interruption.

3. Flexibility

As your business grows, your software and programming requirements may change. Your computing infrastructure needs to be able to accommodate your business needs seamlessly. As you know, repairing hardware and upgrading software demands tremendous support from your internal IT staff. Cloud-based software simplifies software implementation and maintenance because it takes care of everything for you.

Whether your business is experiencing a spike in growth or a period of slow sales, it is important that resources are allocated efficiently. With cloud-based software, your business can increase or decrease computing capacities at any time, without investing in new software, servers, or additional IT personnel and training. It’s the ultimate in convenience and cost savings for your business.

4. Accessibility

Today business is conducted everywhere. Cloud-based software allows you to run your business away from the office (or store) location, whether you are on your laptop or mobile device. Since data and files are consolidated into one place online, users can collaborate on business projects from anywhere. Your business applications can be accessed online the same way you would access a website. With traditional software, updates in applications must be installed one computer system at a time. This can create interruptions in daily business activities. With one change to an application “in the cloud,” you and your employees will automatically have access to the most up-to-date software version in real-time.

5. Affordability

Adopting cloud-software provides your business with a low-cost way to add new software tools – and increase storage capacity – without having to invest in expensive computer hardware and servers. And when you reduce the number of computer systems and the size of your server room, electricity consumption decreases dramatically. This can amount to thousands of dollars in savings per year for your business.

System administration and maintenance that come with traditional software are very costly and require a tremendous amount of IT support. With cloud software there is no need to spend countless hours and weekends on computer and software upgrades. The software vendor actually takes care of the software upkeep for you.

Depending on your needs, cloud software can be acquired with a monthly or annual subscription. Other costs associated include training and additional storage capacities. Most importantly, cloud software offers a way to manage computing expenses without compromising on the level of service you provide to your customers.

This article on cloud software was written for small business owners, and I hope you found it helpful and informative. It is one of many articles I’ve written for the equipment leasing company I work for, and our goal is to provide insight and tips to the small business community nationwide.