Cloud services can make complex services much more affordable thus freeing up cashflow.
You may already familiar with some of the bigger player’s offerings such as Google – Gmail, Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365. These office cloud offerings allow you to work anywhere as long as you have a reliable internet connection. Further, there is no IT maintenance costs related to setting up your own internal office servers. Google and Microsoft even offers free drive storage.
Some of the advantages of using cloud services are:
Some other cloud services you can consider for your business are:
Should you make the move?
A recent MYOB survey found that small businesses that use cloud services were 106% more likely to see a revenue rise in the past year, although only 16% actually use cloud services in their business. Business operators in the cloud were not only more likely to see a revenue rise in the past year, they were more likely to expect one in the next year (37% versus 28%). They were also more positive about the domestic economy improving within 12 months (33% versus 23%).
However, if you’re thinking of going the extra step and moving your whole business online and into the cloud. There are some extra considerations you must take into account. The issues are stability, security and data ownership.
Stability:- Cloud services are subject to outages that are beyond a business’ control. What would happen to your business if you cannot access your programs for a few days?
Security:- often a cloud service provider may not even be located in Australia. There may be privacy laws you need to consider here in Australia or over where your cloud service is hosted that must be complied with. Recently, in the news the United State’s NSA has admitted to collecting personal data on foreign people.
Data ownership:- what happens when you decide to move your cloud-hosted programs to someone else? Do you have the facility to download and retain ownership of that data? In the news, cloud storage service Nirvanix gave only two weeks notice to their users to download their data before they turned off their servers.
You can alleviate some of the above concerns by considering local, Australian-based cloud services such as Telstra’s cloud offering: cloud.telstra.com or iinet’s Business Cloud. These essentially offers a virtual private server whereby you can install your own apps and programs and access it from anywhere.
There are definitely benefits of moving to the cloud, especially if you’re a small business without the resources to perform complex IT functions such as server management, backups and disaster recovery. However a move to cloud services should be approached in a considered way with a view to the pitfalls that could accompany such a move.