Some companies still seem reluctant to transfer important operations to the cloud, but the fact is that the benefits far outweigh the risk. Businesses are moving most or all of their processes to the cloud because it provides reduced cost, flexibility, automation, and ease of use. Software as a service (SaaS) is expected to be a $67 billion industry by next year. Most reservations about using the cloud involve security or continuity issues. Here are some of the things to consider before moving essential processes to the cloud.
1. Data Backups
Any business owner knows the importance of backing up business-critical data like client information and transaction records. Frequent backups to minimize data loss in case of power outage or network failure must be done, and systems must be in place to ensure the data is restored as quickly as possible. A cloud provider can do this better than most small business systems; they automate the whole process so that data is captured as you work, and if the network goes offline for any reason, your data is automatically restored when systems are operational again.
2. Mobile Workforce
One of the chief advantages of the internet and Wi-Fi for businesses is that it supports a mobile office concept. With the help of software from Lightstream and similar companies, employees can work from anywhere, whether sick at home on the road visiting clients, by accessing cloud storage and applications the same way they would from the office. The cloud provides greater collaboration, control, and communication on critical projects like new client negotiations. It lets you sync data and documents from anywhere you happen to be, regardless of your schedule.
3. Shared Information
Whether you have a small, in-house team or offices spread around the world, the cloud makes it easy to share data. Central file storage makes crucial information available to anyone the second it’s saved to memory. Simply by sending a link, you can alert everyone to the existence of new or updated information, which can be reviewed by anyone with the proper permissions, no matter where they are or when they’re working. This eliminates the less-safe practice of emailing attachments back and forth or maintaining multiple copies. Cloud services can control versioning to track edits, permissions to restrict access, and other tools to protect and manage sensitive information.
4. Data Storage
More businesses are relying on content-rich marketing such as animations, maps, streaming audio, video, and even virtual reality. These files require more hard disk space than standard text or optimized web graphics. File space and bandwidth for providing this kind of content can be costly and provide limitations for small businesses. But cloud services free you from the investment and maintenance of local storage to optimized servers that can handle storing and serving the rich content that you need to provide every day.
Protecting your information is always a major concern, whether it’s stored onsite or in the cloud. You can look for a cloud services provider implementing the latest techniques and standards to protect your data, such as using strict user authentication and software that encrypts your data locally, in transit, and on the provider’s computers. You will likely find that a reputable cloud service committed to protecting client data does a better job of protecting your information than you do.
Business owners who take the trouble to evaluate the cloud services available will find not only more options and functionality than they expected, but emphasis on security and accessibility that support even the most critical processes. Asking the right questions of prospective cloud services helps ensure that you find a provider that meets all of your needs.