Forget servers and VPNs—it's time to transition to the cloud. Here are 8 ways this change can majorly impact your business.
As a business owner, it is important to ensure that you are always leveraging the most effective, yet economical solutions possible. Cloud computing is one of those things that most people have heard of, but few truly understand. If you thought that this was simply a passing trend, it is time to think again.
Not only is cloud computing here to stay, but as an article over at Inc.com points out, "companies that don't take advantage of cloud computing will be a minority in less than 6 years."
The bottom line is that moving IT operations over to the cloud is good for business, and here are 8 reasons why.
Related Article: 4 Cloud Advancements Coming in 2015
1. Say Goodbye to IT Problems
Cloud computing provides the ability to essentially outsource operational IT work to an external company. This shifts the risks and burden associated with having to maintain an IT infrastructure in-house. Your cloud service provider will assume all the risks and most of the burden.
A good service provider will take care of everything from updates and security to routine maintenance. This saves your company time and money, which can then be spent on other key areas.
2. Safe and Secure
The reluctance of many companies to move over to the cloud lies in a misapprehension that keeping IT operations under tight control in-house, is a safer solution. However, while moving to the cloud does mean giving up some control, it is often the case that a third party firm will be able look after your data more securely than you could.
Solid providers like Oracle have robust security protocols in place and are be able to clearly outline their methodologies to you to ensure that you have complete confidence in allowing them to manage your data. Oracle's Mark Hurd recently stated that his company views security as an absolute priority and they "devote extensive resources" to it.
3. An Economical Solution
The overarching goal of any business is to make a profit, and cutting operational costs wherever possible can greatly impact that goal. The greatest benefit of moving to the cloud is unsurprisingly a financial one. The financial model associated with the cloud is predictable and economical. There's no upfront costs, flat-rate monthly fee per user and/or amount of bandwidth used, and easy scalability in either direction.
Furthermore, switching over from legacy servers to cloud servers eliminates the need for continual server environment refreshes, reduces demand for IT support staff, and saves on energy use. This all translates to more money in the business purse.
4. A More Connected Workforce
A recent survey by Frost & Sullivan showed that companies investing in collaboration technologies increased productivity by as much as 400%. Cloud computing allows for easy collaboration between employees. Workers can access relevant files and documents from wherever they are: prospects headquarters, on a plane, or at home.
When you eliminate the time-consuming and often unsecure process of sending files back and forth over email, you create a more streamlined process. A more efficient collaboration system that enables employees to access files from one central location ultimately leads to an improved business bottom line.
5. Flexibility, Functionality, and Efficiency
In the ever-changing business landscape, it can be interesting to witness how some companies adapt themselves, often many years too late. While certain aspects of the business will be harder to adapt than others, it is important to stay as nimble as possible.
Cloud computing allows you to adapt to market conditions with a certain flexibility that is not available when you use on site, physical solutions. Aside from adapting to external conditions, this virtual solution also enables quick responses to internal demands. If user demand increases, cloud services can be rise to meet the demand, and then be easily decreased as demand drops. Thus eliminating the problem of over-provisioning or IT systems overload.
6. More Disaster Resistant
Losing important data to a fire or some other disaster at your business premises can devastate your business. Data back-up service providers have preached this message for a long time, but with the availability of cloud services it is now much more convenient to heed the message.
Oracle is one of the leading providers of data services, and their focus on innovation and security means cloud storage is being made ever more disaster resistant. Mark Hurd recently spoke of the company's shift towards storing data "on chips rather than disc drives," which represent even more secure data back-up options.
Virtualization technologies enables the incorporation of cloud-based recovery models which keeps a cloned version of all your data readily available at data-centres should something go wrong.
7. Greater Business Competitiveness
New research carried out by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reported that 74% of businesses feel like cloud computing has given them a competitive advantage. The main reason that these companies felt like they gained this advantage is that the cloud enabled them to "capitalize on opportunities more quickly" than competitors.
The cloud allows companies to develop a speed and agility that directly affects its ability to develop products and respond to customer needs. In other words, the cloud acts as a facilitator to enable a company to bring products to market faster. It means that small companies can effectively compete with large companies.
Related Article: How to Increase Business Agility with Cloud Technology
8. Makes Big Data Easy to Manage
Finally, cloud computing makes it easier for companies to handle so-called "Big Data." Traditional data storage methods (not cloud) have not always provided a simple way for companies to carry out advanced analysis of their databases. In the case of large firms, this process can take many weeks and require highly knowledgeable specialists.
The cloud provides the necessary tools to sort through lots of unstructured data quickly and easily. Yet another area where cloud computing affects productivity and profits in a positive way.
Companies such as the aforementioned Oracle have recently started focusing much of their attention on cloud technology. This certainly signals a shift in the business data management landscape, but in a very positive way.