In this technological age that we live in, it is now more important than ever for businesses to have access to the information they need, whenever they need it, and from wherever they are in the world.
There was a time where employees had to use software or access files that were only based within their offices, but today there are more flexible ways of working. Remote working is becoming the norm rather than the exception these days, and it’s all thanks to the cloud.
Image Source – Flickr
What Exactly is “the cloud”?
In a nutshell, the cloud is a term used to describe an offsite data storage location. It is a method of distributing computing power over the Internet, and aside from being a place to store data, it also allows people to run software programs over the web; such web software programs are known as SaaS packages, or “Software as a Service” to give its full name.
How can Cloud Computing Help my Business?
As I mentioned a little earlier, businesses would traditionally keep all of their files and software in-house, which presented a problem for people that wanted to work from home. Because of these limitations, employees wouldn’t have much of a choice but to work from the office.
But with the advances in broadband Internet speeds and the technology in computing advancing so fast, it is now becoming more easier for businesses to have remote workers.
Access your Email from Anywhere
Enterprise-grade email systems such as Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s App for Business mean that employees can access their email, not just from the office, but from their smartphones, tablet devices and laptops anywhere around the world.
This also removes the need to have a dedicated mail server on your premises, and because cloud computing systems are often replicated across several other servers in secure locations, there is effectively no down-time, save for planned maintenance work.
Access your Files from Anywhere
Another reason that many small businesses take advantage of what cloud computing can offer them is the fact that files no longer have to be stored in the office. Many small businesses often have employees that travel around the UK and even around the world, and this obviously means that they cannot take their in-house file servers with them!
Services such as DropBox enable people to store important files such as documents, spreadsheets and images onto a central location in the cloud, which can then be accessed either from a desktop computer in the office, from a mobile device, or even from a web browser!
Such services also enable you to synchronise any file changes, so, for example, if you edit an important spreadsheet from a hotel room in some far-flung corner of the globe, the next time you are back in the office any files that have been changed will be synchronised with your local desktop copy; this means you don’t have to worry about downloading and uploading files, because it is all taken care of for you automatically.
Many software manufacturers are realising the limitless possibilities of having software that runs in the cloud and can be access through a web browser, rather than as a program on a single computer system. For example, web accountancy software such as KashFlow and FreshBooks mean that you can do your accounts from the comfort of your own home, rather than from the office!
Cloud computing services are a mere fraction of the price of having dedicated file servers installed in your office, and they offer more flexibility too. This means that you can spend more money on other areas of your business.
Getting Started with Cloud Services
There are plenty of cloud solutions available for all small businesses, but if you need help setting up such services for your small business, it is best to get the help of an IT support services company to establish your requirements and recommend cloud computing solutions to fit your needs.