Over the past 10 years or so “the cloud” has become a somewhat vague technology term that often confuses business owners. One simple way to think about the cloud is simply “someone else’s computer”. Using the cloud simply means you are renting space or processing power on a server in a datacenter that isn’t located on your premise.
Many businesses are already using some cloud technologies and they don’t even know it. Fifteen years ago, many small businesses ran servers in their offices to host their email, very few small businesses do that anymore. Most small businesses are using Microsoft 365 or Gmail services that host your email on their servers. This provides more reliability and security than hosting email on a server in your office.
Today we are seeing more small businesses utilizing the cloud now for storage and file access. Services such as OneDrive, SharePoint, Dropbox, and many others provide users a way to store and access their company or personal documents from any location in a secure way. These services not only allow you to store all your company data in a secured environment but provides secure and reliable access from any location which empowers employees to work from anywhere.
Over the next couple of years, we will see two cloud technologies reach further into the small business space; Azure/AWS server hosting and cloud-based PCs. Running company servers and applications in the cloud is already making in roads into the SMB space. This provides greater flexibility for servers with access to infinite resources and the ability to scale up or down based on usage. Running servers in the cloud removes the cycle of server hardware replacement and makes upgrades much quicker. Cloud based PCs are just now getting to a price point that makes them viable for SMBs. This is running your whole computer or “desktop” in the cloud. When you start your computer, you simply access a cloud-based PC where all your applications and files live. This solution allows you to access your entire computer from any location and access all your applications and files. This solution is great for companies looking to enable remote work on a more permanent basis.
Cloud technologies have come a long way in a short period of time, but the productivity gains are enormous especially with some employees working from home. With the security enforced with the major cloud players eliminates the argument that storing files and applications locally is somehow safer.
The truth is Microsoft, Amazon, and others are investing more than 1,000,000% than what any SMB can afford to spend on cyber security. Using cloud technologies do require a stable internet connection and that should always be considered when looking to enable cloud technologies.