‘The cloud’ might sound like some sort of abstract buzzword without substance, but the fact is that the benefits it offers are highly concrete and can revolutionise the way your business works. In this article we aim to demystify the concept and give you the lowdown on what you need to know about computing in the cloud.
Cloud computing explained
Not so long ago, offices were places with bits of paper floating around here, there and everywhere. The proliferation of computers in the latter decades of the 20th century changed all that, but the bits of paper continued to fly around, until the age of the Internet and electronic communications altered the office drastically again.
Now, the cloud is having just as significant an impact on offices around the world. And where email meant that businesses no longer had to pass around reams of paper, cloud computing is doing away with the need for them to manage and maintain their own digital infrastructure and software.
‘The cloud’ effectively refers to the storage of data and software in external third-party data centres, and the access of these remotely via the Internet. We’ll look at some of the specific solutions that the cloud can offer your business in a moment, but first, let’s examine some of the key benefits of cloud computing:
Streamline your IT expenditure
Rather than having to pay for high-powered servers, computers and related equipment, all you need is to choose the cloud services you wish to sign up to and provide your employees with the basic machines needed to access these. This makes cloud solutions a particularly prudent investment for small and medium businesses with limited resources, as all of the machine and personnel-intensive grunt work is handled by the provider.
Your IT problems are solved by someone else
If something goes wrong and systems fail this will no doubt be frustrating, but because it’s being handled by outside IT professionals, you can concentrate on the work that you can do.
You’ll have access to powerful software on the move
The nature of the cloud means that your software and files can be accessed from wherever your employees are, and from virtually any machine.
Innovations and solutions offered by cloud computing
We’ve covered the benefits, but are the specific solutions offered by the cloud that SMB’s need to know about?
The type of software you source from the cloud will depend on your business, but the benefits will be the same – the ability to run powerful software from a low-end machine and easy remote access.
If your data is stored in-house and your servers are corrupted or your office suffers a fire, many years of vital information will be potentially lost. Cloud servers on the other hand are usually backed up extensively, and will not be affected by anything that transpires in your office. You can even use Nuance Power PDF to quickly digitise paper documents and send them to the safety of the cloud.
Today it’s possible for colleagues on the opposite side of the world to work together instantaneously. Documents can be stored and accessed by multiple users remotely, and with Nuance’s cloud-ready software solutions you can maintain control over different drafts and versions, as well determining who is allowed to edit.
These are just a few of the many possibilities of cloud computing. In 2016, the question is no longer ‘should we be using the cloud?’, but instead ‘what should we be using the cloud for?’