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What Exactly Is Cloud Computing?
You can use full blown business applications without any servers or even big computers. A cloud is basically a service provided by a third party business that lets you use applications developed, updated and maintained by them. The data is stored on their servers, not yours. Access to cloud applications is generally provided over the Internet and are shared by many businesses, not just yours. They are accessible from anywhere in the world and can usually be used on different types of devices (ie PC, Mac, smart phones, tablets).

Advantages

One advantage to cloud computing is that you don't have to buy any software or servers. This can drive software costs down, allowing for more capital to be used for operations. Cloud software useage is usually billed on a per subscription basis. That allows you to start using it at a very low cost.

Your IT team doesn't have to worry about things like software development or deployment. Your cloud service provider handles all the software and servers. They will provide you with any software that may be needed. Usually, cloud based software is Web browser based so all your staff has to do is log onto the cloud Website with their favorite Web browser and start using the application.


Disadvantages

Cloud based software is owned and run by a third party company. If for any reason they should decide not to provide you with service it could devastate your business. For example, if your accounting software is cloud based and your provider decides not to grant you access, you could lose all your accounting records. That could incite a visit from the IRS.

You can't know for sure that your data isn't being used for alternative purposes. Third party providers may use your data for their purposes. They may even sell it to other companies without you ever knowing it.

The cost may actually be higher than that of purchased or custom software. With subscriptions you never gets to the point where it's paid for. Research has revealed that if you're paying $7,000.00 or more per month, then it's probably better to provide that service in-house.

Data being sent back and forth over the Internet can be slow. If the application requires the use of a lot of data its usaeage can be time consuming. Applications with very large quantities of text, or any media like images and videos will require more data transfer. That could slow things when travelling over the Internet.

Security over the Internet is limited. The US government and banks depend on Internet security. That to say, the Internet is secure but sending your private data to another business is always risky.


Alternatives

The technology used to provide cloud computing is no different than software that we can develop for you. We were using cloud technology to develop applications years before cloud computing came out. All you need is a server big enough to store the application(s) and the data and of course the software (usually Web browser based). Reasonably priced laptops make big enough servers for most small businesses, though we wouldn't recommend a laptop for a server.

Applications provided from inside your business can still be accessible world wide, over the Internet. They can also be developed to be useable from multiple types of devices (ie. PC, Mac, smart phone, tablet).


Hybrid Solutions

Some types of applications work great from a cloud. Others may not. Integration of cloud and internal software can be a challenge but well written software both on the cloud and internally can allow for integration.

Give us a call so we can discuss the prospect of cloud computing for your business. We'll help you make sound decisions about the use of cloud computing.

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