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So What’s the Cloud Anyway?

Though Cloud Computing has been all the hype the past year or so, many small business owners still aren't quite sure what it is or how it can help their business. Download Free Cloud Report.

 

Though the term Cloud Computing has been all the hype the past year or so, many small business owners still aren't quite sure what it is and how it can help their business.

Advancements in technology and the greater availability of broad band Internet connections are driving down the costs of computing power. With cloud computing, businesses can pay for “computing power” like a utility without having the exorbitant costs of installing, hosting and supporting it. So the easiest way to define cloud computing is: using the Internet to access applications for either personal or business use.

In fact, you are probably already experiencing the benefits of cloud computing in some way, but may not realize it. Below are a number of clouds computing applications, also called SaaS or “software as a service,” you might be using:

  • Gmail™, Hotmail™ or other free e-mail accounts
  • Facebook™ , Twitter™, LinkedIn™ or other social media sites
  • NetSuite™, Salesforce™, ZohoCRM™, Infusionsoft™ or other CRM tools
  • Constant Contact™, Exact Target™, MailChimp™ or other e-mail broadcasting services
  • Zoomerang™, SurveyMonkey™ and other survey tools
  • All things Google™ (search, AdWords, maps, etc.)


If you think about it, almost every single application you use today can be (or already is) “in the cloud” where you can access it and pay for it via your browser for a monthly fee or utility pricing. You don’t purchase and install software but instead access it via an Internet browser.

Keep in mind there is no “perfect” solution. All options – whether they are an in-house network or a cloud solution – has its pros and cons. And which option is best has to be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on your business, how it uses technology, its growth, number of employees, etc. (Warning: Do not let a cloud expert tell you there is only “one way” of doing something.)

Most of our clients end up with a hybrid solution where some of their applications are in the cloud and some are still hosted and maintained from an in-house server.

If you're a business owner and you woulkd like to get more information on cloud computing, you can download a free report at http://www.ciolanding.com/resources/free-cloud-report/  or you can sign up for an Executive Cloud Computing webinar at 11 a.m. June 27. To sign up, go to www.CIOLanding.com/CloudWebinarSignup

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bob June 17, 2012 at 12:35 PM
The "cloud" is nothing more than the return of the 70s timesharing. It's still "using someone else's computers".
Juan Carlos and Sally Bosacoma June 18, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Bob, That's right. You use it without having to “own” it. More specifically, you don’t own the responsibility of having to install, update and maintain the infrastructure. Think of it similar to living in a condo where someone else takes care of the building maintenance, repairing the roof and mowing the lawn, but you still have the only key to your section of the building and use of all the facilities. This is particularly attractive for companies who are new or expanding, but don’t want the heavy outlay of cash for purchasing and supporting an expensive computer network.
Lennie Jarratt June 19, 2012 at 05:51 PM
You can build your own cloud as well. Amazon and Goole have done this. They then started selling it to the rest of the world because it is has much better economies of scale.. Small businesses really don't have the resources for DIY cloud. As a techie and small biz owner myself, the cloud is a great way to keep costs low and allow you to focus on your business instead of dealing with the server administration.
Steinar Andersen June 19, 2012 at 07:55 PM
The cloud allows the "small guy" to act as the "big guy" and starts leveling the playing field regarding infrastructure.
Juan Carlos and Sally Bosacoma June 20, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Although the concept of the cloud has been around for a while as Bob suggests, one of the aspects of today's cloud is that we have more bandwidth, and, options and more options. Therein lies the curse and the blessing. Because you have more options now you may need some guidance with decision making to sort through it all. It's also important to understand your Total Cost of Ownership or TCO to know whether you are saving or spending more in the cloud.

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