Cloud computing companies offer several advantages to small businesses, but to make an informed decision, it”s wise to weigh the advantages against any disadvantages. Below are a few of the advantages and disadvantages to consider when deciding how the scale tips for your particular business.
First, with all of your business apps and information stored on a cloud server, you and your employees can access it from anywhere on any device. This is obviously perfect for a business with a sales force that goes out to customers, but it”s also great for business uses that might not immediately come to mind. Microsoft offers subscriptions to Microsoft Office online and Adobe offers subscriptions to Adobe Creative Suite online. Writers and artists can take an inexpensive Chromebook or HP Stream wherever they please, upload their work to the cloud, and not worry about losing anything if they damage or lose the computer during their trek. Further, artists and craftspeople who sell their work at arts and craft festivals can upload their sales data and inventory from any location.
No matter what applications you use on the cloud, they are upgraded automatically as new versions are released. You no longer have to spend hundreds of dollars on new software when support for your version ends or when a new feature that would be important for your business becomes available. You also no longer have to purchase new licenses as your business expands and you hire more employees.
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Because your cloud server maintains and upgrades the online apps, you also no longer need to pay someone to maintain and backup your local network or install newly released software or software for newly hired employees. Further, you may not need to invest in a server for your business or periodically purchase a new server as your business and its storage requirements expand. You may be able to expand your business more quickly as cloud computing and storage reduce the amount of capital required for expanding your computer network.
While cloud computing and storage reduce IT costs and initial capital investments, your business loses out on the deduction for depreciation that you would have been able to take on those purchases. In addition, relying on cloud computing and cloud storage can put your business out of business if your Internet or cloud service goes down for some reason. If your Internet service slows, response times for your apps will slow as well. Further, some proprietary online apps are not compatible with other software applications, and others may lack features available on the purchased version.
Security breaches and data loss are an issue, but large cloud servers may have more security than small businesses can afford. In the event of data loss, cloud servers are beginning to offer Recovery as a Service (RaaS). Businesses are charged for the recovery service on an as needed basis. SmallBusinessComputing.com offers more information on cloud use by small businesses.