Last week we looked at the Ultra Book, a new offering in the hardware department. Today we’ll focus on the softer side of things. The software trend generating major buzz is cloud computing.
It’s a clever name with a relevant visual. Cloud computing lets businesses buy technology through the Internet instead of having computers and software sit at their organization. There are three types of cloud computing solutions:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Organizations rent servers from suppliers who own and house the equipment
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): Users rent servers and the system software that supports them
- Software as a Service(SaaS): Users also rent application software and databases
It’s up to the cloud provider to offer hardware and software remotely, and manage the infrastructure platforms for the applications. There’s a whole host of services involved, including antivirus, backups, hardware and network monitoring and preventive maintenance. Cloud management also offers remote help desk support and support that’s readily available 24/7.
This is really “airing out” the traditional system. Business owners previously had no choice but to buy their own equipment and servers and lease systems and software. The cloud environment takes care of all this plus support, and bills on a subscription-based model that depends on features acquired and number of users. This provides a huge advantage for people that may be starting their own business.
Here are some of the cloud’s direct advantages:
- Accessible from anywhere with Internet
- Pay-as-you-go subscription model
- 24/7 availability
- Eliminates IT department
- Better customer service with more information available in real-time
- Easier to share data with advisors, such as your small business Chartered Accountant, which facilitates more efficient business record keeping and faster response times.
Here’s another key advantage for small businesses: access to more sophisticated applications. You keep all the functionality of your current in-house solution, and add numerous other functions that may be price prohibitive if you licensed software directly. Cloud based task management systems such as Basecamp simplify the process of maintaining day to day business operations management.
In a cloud computing environment, these additional features are affordable thanks to the pay-as-you-go model. Even if you run a home business, you can access significant technological resources well beyond your IT budget.
Of course, all that benefits your bottom line. Extra functionality can improve productivity and profitability for many Canadian small businesses. It makes it easier to compete with much larger organizations, locally, globally…really anywhere under the cloudy sky.