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What is the Cloud?

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A common question that I am asked is “What is the cloud?” and the follow up, “Should I be using it in my business?” Basically, the “cloud” is an all-encompassing term describing software that is hosted at a central location and accessed over a network. Applications that are accessed via the internet through a web browser are the most common.

The answer to the second question is “You probably already are”.  If you use Google or Yahoo! for email then you are utilizing the “cloud”. Many people use Salesforce or Quickbooks online everyday not realizing that these are “cloud” applications.

The “cloud” is not a new idea. What is new is the amount of marketing dollars being spent to promote software-as-a-service (SAAS). A few years ago, I worked for a software company whose premier product was internet based accounting software. Not once did the development or support teams use the word “cloud”.

Should your business be using the Cloud?

Maybe. For many small businesses, it may be more cost effective to incorporate a  pay-per-user model for email, collaboration tools, and productivity software. Google Apps for business and Microsoft’s Office 360 offer very affordable options.  It is possible for some companies to get an increased ROI because their IT budget is not spent up front on large hardware and software purchases.

The key to successfully moving your small business to the “cloud” is to understand your company’s internal IT structure. For "cloud" computing to be effective, fast and reliable internet access must be available. For a small business, the user's PC must also be powerful enough to run multiple, browser-based applications.  Most newer computers have plenty of speed and memory to accomplish these tasks.

Another key issue is security.  Make sure that any cloud service your business uses has firm guards and recovery procedures in place to protect against data loss due to equipment malfunction or an outside attack.

If you have questions about the “cloud” or how Enfuse Technology can help you make your technology dollars go farther, give us a call or email.  or 910.319.7905

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