While small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have always been an integral part of the business ecosystem around the world, the needs of many of these vital businesses continue to be underserved. One such area is in information technology needs, which typically require large enough investments for infrastructure and human resource making them virtually out of reach for smaller businesses.
While the case may have been true years ago, today’s advances have made it possible for businesses of any size to leverage and fully utilize information systems without having to shell out large initial investments. We’re talking about cloud computing, the latest trend in the software business that’s making a huge impact and revolutionizing how I.T. needs get delivered to you.
What Is Cloud Computing?
The “cloud” refers basically to any hardware infrastructure that is out of sight from end users of the system. Essentially, cloud computing means systems that are operating remotely and delivered to you via the internet. This is in contrast to traditional in-house systems which require actual hardware to be set up and continuously running on premise and maintained regularly either by in-house personnel or consultants.
Cloud computing as a technology is nothing too recent, with many cloud computing services such as online email clients and file storage systems already in the game for decades. However, in the last few years, tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have started to shift to providing cloud computing infrastructure as a service. With reliable platforms like Azure, Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services, it’s never been easier for anyone across the globe (that means you!) to get into the business.
Here are a few reasons why your SME needs to leverage on the cloud computing revolution:
1. You want to improve your business with information technology, but can’t afford the huge investment.
We’ll start with the most obvious one. Setting up an information system can be a huge investment, ranging from hardware infrastructure to software licenses to human resources. For a small business of five people and a small office, it may not make sense to build a room dedicated to servers and an additional two heads for maintenance and upkeep. With cloud computing, you can take full advantage of economies of scale through a 3rd party service provider, sharing resources with other businesses of varying scales.
2. You’re not sure how much computing bandwidth you need.
If you’re an early stage business or operating in a highly volatile market, chances are you’re frequently second guessing just how much computing power you’re going to need to keep your operations running smoothly. Most cloud computing services have capabilities to scale your bandwidth as you grow, making sure you spend only for what you need and you don’t overcommit on bandwidth you may no longer need in the future.
3. You want to check your operations from anywhere in the world.
Digital nomads unite! This isn’t to say that on-premise servers are not accessible remotely, but do you really have the time to worry about security and setting up VPNs? The cloud, being accessible through any internet connection, gives you 24-7 access to your I.T. systems from anywhere in the world. Of course, a good internet connection is required but this is pretty much a given in this day and age.
4. You want your software updated on time and all the time.
This may not be on top of mind for most business owners when considering a move to cloud computing, but it’s a huge advantage for both business people and software providers alike. Being on the cloud means your system can be updated remotely by your software provider whenever necessary, giving you real time access to the latest patches and allowing you to get immediate support for your concerns.
Granted, cloud computing may not be for everyone. As in any move that outsources operational aspects to third parties, there are inherent risks related to security, regulations, and management of services. But for a large number of SMEs, the move to cloud computing will make the most sense. You transfer some operational risks and costs to third parties, maintaining low costs while still making the most out of the latest information technology available.