Why small & midsize business success could lie up in the clouds

As well as enabling a low-cost, efficient virtual company structure, cloud services offer a new way of working.

The facts are simple. Prior to the internet, you would purchase software, usually with a licence, and install and run it on your computers. Under the cloud model, the software is run online by a third-party provider, and you access it through your internet browser. You never install anything on your own computer, and you never actually ‘own’ any software: rather than buying a product, you’re renting a service.

To understand why cloud computing is such a game-changer, we need to look in more depth at the reasons why the cloud (also known as ‘Software as a Service’ or SaaS) is so different, and how it creates business-friendly benefits.

Make IT our problem

First off, there’s just no technology for you to worry about. When you sign up, you get to use the software without worrying about installing it, maintaining it, downloading updates or keeping it secure. You also won’t need a server or any of the other additional IT investment that larger suites of software used to require. All that is taken care of by your service provider.

Predictable and economical – a business-friendly financial model

The greatest benefit of the cloud, however, is financial. With cloud services, there is no upfront cost. You’ll pay a low, predictable, flat-rate monthly fee per user for the software that you use; and that means that you can scale up or down as your business needs demand. When you take on more staff, you can switch on new licenses immediately, and similarly turn off the tap if you scale down.

Unlike installed software, you will also always have access to the latest version. When a new version of a service is released, it is instantly made available to all subscribers, giving you access to tools which will keep your business at peak competitiveness.

Running software online also brings with it some inherent benefits:

  • Work from anywhere: software which was installed on a computer only ran on that computer. Today’s business owners work from home and airport lounges as well as the office; and with the cloud, you will not only always have access to your software, you can also log in and simply pick up where you left off.
  • Collaborate with colleagues, clients and suppliers: you can share access to your cloud workspaces. That means you can work on documents, proposals, presentations etc. with other people, and expand the boundaries of your office to clients, too.
  • Cut the risk of crisis and speed up disaster recovery: one of the key economies of scale involved in cloud computing is that a good cloud provider will have better security and resilience than you can ever hope to afford. They will store your data safely and securely. If your office was broken into (or, more likely, you leave your laptop on a train), your data is still safe and immediately accessible online from another machine.

The security question

Solid providers will explain their security methodologies and commitment to you. Microsoft’s Office 365, for example, has a Trust Center here, with documents which clearly outline their promise. Your provider should also give you an SLA, or ‘Service Level Agreement’ which commits to delivering, for example, a guaranteed level of ‘uptime’ (i.e. ensuring that their service will be available for e.g. 99.9% of the time).

Plus, the range of cloud delivered software is now as broad as anything you might buy in a shop. The Office 365 package includes email, calendars, conferencing, website building tools and access to the Microsoft Office desktop tools used by millions of businesses worldwide. Other services will keep your computers secure, manage projects, help you stay in touch with your customers, and indeed anything else you can think of – including plenty designed for specific business sectors. Few businesses today can escape technology completely, and few should want to – it’s a key driver of commercial competitiveness. But the cloud can make unlocking that competitiveness simple, flexible and free of upfront expense.

About BCN Group

BCN Group is a dynamic, fresh thinking, independent IT solutions provider covering Manchester, Stockport, Cheshire and the UK. Our key focus areas are virtualisation, storage, disaster recovery, business continuity,consultancy and support services. We have strategic alliances with many of the big known and trusted manufactures such as VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, HP, and many more.

Should you be interested in learning more about Cloud Computing and how it can benefit your business, call us on 0345 095 7000 or email sales@bcn.co.uk.