There’s a good chance that MOST of the software applications you use every day are now SaaS applications, or "software as a service." In other words, you don’t have to install them on your server or PC – you simply access it as a pay-as-you-go model for only the licenses, space and features you use. This gives you the ability to access highly sophisticated software and functionality at a fraction of the cost – or even for free – and without long-term commitments.
For example, Google is a massive, free cloud application – the power required to search billions of web sites and content in seconds and deliver the relevant results to your screen far exceeds the capacity of your PC. Facebook is another free cloud application that allows you to post pictures, play games, and connect with your friends in real time without having to install those applications on your computer. Of course, there are also the applications such as Salesforce, Constant Contact, SurveyMonkey, etc., that you pay to use.
With the recent introduction of cloud-based office applications like Office 365, Google Apps and thousands of other SaaS applications, it’s becoming unnecessary for some businesses to purchase and maintain an onsite server. Now companies can host one or more of their applications, data, e-mail and other functions “in the cloud.” That simply means it’s stored offsite in a highly secure, high-availability “utility” company that has far more power and resources than you could ever logically have onsite as a small business. And with devices getting cheaper and Internet connectivity exploding, cloud computing is suddenly a very smart, viable option for small business owners.
What Are The Benefits Of Cloud Computing?
- Eliminates the need for expensive server upgrades and allows you to use cheaper devices (PCs, etc.) to get the same work done.
- Frees you to access applications from any device and any location. All you need is an Internet connection.
- Built-in disaster recovery and business continuity.
- Only pay for what you need and use (utility pricing).
Is Cloud Computing Right For You?
While there are a ton of benefits to cloud computing, it’s NOT right for every company. Some applications don’t play well in the cloud. You need commercial-grade Internet connectivity, and some functions, like working with big graphics files, are better kept local or the slowness will make you crazy. However, in almost every case, parts of your computer network (functions) can easily be put in the cloud to save you money and give you better service. So before you donate your server and sign up for Google Apps, Office 365 or a Total Cloud Solution, it’s important you talk to someone who can honestly assess your unique situation and tell you the pros and cons of making the switch to cloud computing.
||About Fernando Sosa
Fernando Sosa is a technology consultant, project management professional, and software developer who helps small businesses and nonprofit organizations make the most of their information technology resources.