First of all, what exactly is cloud computing? To take a broad definition, Cloud computing is the next stage in the Internet's evolution, providing the means through which everything - from computing power to computing infrastructure, applications, business processes to personal collaboration - can be delivered to you as a service over the web and through a browser, with no server or client software to install. Cloud computing tools are available any time, anywhere, from any device connecting to the Internet. If you send email, have a blog, have ever posted photos online or have searched for information on the internet, then you're already part the cloud computing movement.
The actual "cloud" in cloud computing can be defined as the set of hardware, networks, services, and interfaces that combine to deliver aspects of computing as a service. Cloud services include the delivery of software, infrastructure, and storage over the Internet, either as separate components or a complete platform, based on user demand. These services are hosted by a third party which means all headaches associated with maintaining on-premise systems are removed. Your provider takes care of it all.
With new technologies making the workforce increasingly mobile and easier to manage, it's important for small businesses to be able to stay connected at all times, no matter where they are. Cloud computing allows business owners to do just that, saving time and money all while improving productivity, and importantly, remaining competitive. Small businesses need to be available to respond quickly and work together whether in the field, in the office or on the way to work. Cloud computing enables businesses of all sizes to seamlessly stay connected, work remotely and collaborate across different geographies and time zones.
Cloud computing enables employees from being tethered to the office and it enables managers to work with their teams while they're on the road or working remotely. No more emailing attachments back and forth between users, no more multiple edits and mark-ups, no more having to carry around USB drives with the latest version of documents to access at home and no need to actually go to your office to access a document. And if your computer crashes, you don't lose all your data and information, you just log in from another computer.Since you can also access your email from the airport or from your smart phone on the train while commuting, you can send and receive your fax also. All these things mean a lot when you're working at the kind of pace required at a small business.
As a small business manager, these new online tools can make life easier for you and your employees, and enable your workforce to be mobile, seamlessly connected and flexible. Cloud computing helps multi-tasking business owners transfer their efforts from IT maintenance to the areas where their true expertise lies; making their business more profitable and, by extension, making their lives more enjoyable.
Cloud computing can completely transform the way companies use technology to service customers, partners, and suppliers. Some businesses, such as Google and Amazon, already have most of their IT resources in the cloud. They have found that it can eliminate many of the complex constraints from the traditional computing environment, including space, time, power, and cost. And really, what business, regardless of size or type, wouldn't want to save time and resources on those aspects of business?
As we charge forward in this new age of computing, what's clear is that our lives as consumers, as business people, and as citizens are already changing. The cloud makes it inexpensive and easy to collaborate and share information, wherever you and your employees are.