The cloud is the "it" thing for business lately. You hear and read about it constantly. Are you thinking about moving your business data to the cloud? Is the cloud right for your small business?
You may be using cloud services already without even realizing it. Individuals who access their email or calendar through Google applications are using cloud-computing services. They entrust their data to Google's "cloud."
Cloud software can provide services beyond scheduling functions. For example, cloud-based services like QuickBooks Online offer software solutions for a monthly fee.
Is the fee worth it?
Small business owners probably need to evaluate their software needs and determine if cloud alternatives are worth the price.
There are several things worth considering before taking the cloud computing plunge:
How much does it cost: Many cloud options come with a monthly fee. Some may also come with an additional up-front fee. Business owners should weigh these fees against traditional software alternatives that might come with a high upfront cost but won't bleed you dry every month.
What kind of support do you get: Is there a dedicated customer service line? Alternatively, is there someone you can reach via email in case problems arise?
Is your data secure?: Security is on most business owners' minds. Do not use cloud services unless you're confident about its security level.
The above are just a few considerations business owners may want to keep in mind when deciding to move their data to the cloud.
You might also want to take note that cloud services are provided over the web. You won't be able to access data unless you have Internet access. Plus, if the server goes down your business data becomes inaccessible.
However, using cloud providers for your small business does come with an added bonus. If your hard drive fails, there's always a backup available in the cloud.
How Cloud Computing Can Help Small Businesses (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Online Protection for Your Company's Confidential Information (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
Safety In the Cloud (FindLaw's Technologist)