A few… Well, more than a few years ago, when cloud computing exploded, it was one of the most exciting new ways to manage, distribute, and store digital information. Like most technological trends, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact date when the cloud became a thing, but generally the term started getting thrown around in the late 90s when some software platforms started using the Internet to host applications and information. In 1999, Salesforce was perhaps one of the most popular cloud-based platforms, offering a hosted version of their software that was available “on-demand” for businesses with a licensed subscription.
Since then, the cloud became a buzzword representing sort of a mish-mash of ideas and concepts that more or less meant “my data is somewhere far away and I don’t need to worry about it.”
For the consumer, it meant photos didn’t need to be kept on a phone’s storage, or documents were accessible from anywhere. It meant less loss if your files were backed up to the cloud, and it opened up ideas like Software-as-a-Service (Saas), and has almost completely done away with physical copies of software like games, applications, and even media.
The world has totally adopted the cloud whether the individual likes it or not. We get music from services like Spotify and iTunes, which are cloud services. We get our apps from the Google Play and Apple App stores, which are cloud services. Where once we had shelves of DVDs and Blu-rays, most consumers stream movies and shows from cloud-based streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
The world’s largest companies use the cloud to their advantage, from Microsoft changing their offering to an online SaaS-based model to Amazon attributing almost three quarters of their profit to their cloud-hosting services. When the cloud and business are combined, the conversation almost always leads to profits.
The Cloud and SMBs
The main pillar of cloud computing is scalability, and that goes both ways. The cloud is a computing environment that is built around allowing businesses to scale upwards effectively, but in the same way, the massive benefits that huge industry giants have gained from using the cloud are all available at the smaller scale to smaller businesses and organizations.
As a business owner, you have to look at the cloud as a technology that essentially levels the playing field to a certain degree. While at the smallest scale, it might not initially have a drastic impact on a business or your overall IT spend, as you scale upwards, it lowers a lot of the higher barriers for computing costs, and often has important capabilities like security, compliance, and collaboration baked right in.
We’re being vague because that’s the nature of the cloud. It isn’t one simple, definable thing. It’s utilizing computers that aren’t yours to handle data storage, processing, sharing, and application delivery. That opens businesses up to virtually unlimited possibilities.
The Cloud and Your Small Business
How the cloud can help your business depends on a lot of factors, but here are some things that some SMBs might be dealing with that could be moved to the cloud:
- On-premise Exchange email servers
- On-premise application servers, especially in situations where multiple servers are in play in one location.
- Legacy on-premise phone systems
- Inelegant solutions in place to support multiple locations
- In-house infrastructure is starting to struggle to support growth
- Servers and line-of-business applications are reaching end-of-life
Of course, these are just some of the leading indicators that it’s time to start looking at cloud computing. If you are looking to get a handle on your IT budget this year, we can help. That includes looking for opportunities to utilize cloud computing to reduce your overall IT footprint and reduce capital expenditures on new hardware, while giving you the flexibility and peace of mind to drive your business forward.
Give us a call at (317) 759-3972 to get the process started.