How Small Businesses can gain a competitive advantage with Cloud Computing
In our increasingly globalized world, small businesses need an effective communications network to span the geographically spread regions of the business. But the business applications required to achieve this are an expensive proposition in our current economic climate. This is making it more and more troublesome for smaller companies to compete with big corporations who hold seemingly infinite budgets. But we are now seeing the emergence of multi-tenanted business applications based upon a price-per-user model, or in other words, the Public Cloud. This is allowing smaller firms to enjoy enterprise level services, security and products, at a fraction of the price.
Now is the time to begin “Thinking Big” – and employing communications to get there. With Cloud Computing, instead of running Desktops, Applications, Exchange or Voice through physical in-house servers, they are hosted on centralized virtual servers in a data centre. This whole procedure is instant to setup and uncomplicated to use; you just login, customize and begin. Applications are more scalable, more secure and more reliable as you don’t need a copy of an app for every department using it, just one app which is resilient enough for everyone to customize for their own specific wants. You can immediately provision applications whenever you require them as the end user directly controls the resources they require. This allows organizations striving to adapt to the pace and dynamism of business today to deploy highly resilient virtual machines for their employees, dawning a new era of flexibility.
Directors are starting to recognize a change in the dynamics of their firms now that employees can be networked more cost-effectively, no matter where in the world they are. Employees can gain from increased mobility with access to their individual desktop user profile from any device – Laptop, Thin Client or iPad – from anyplace in the globe within reach of a 3G network. This makes it easy to unite people and offices in one cohesive, responsive unit in which users share and synchronize emails, diaries and files. Small organizations can employ home-based workers, or open small branch offices, or more effectively connect employees on their mobiles to deliver seamless, customer service as easily as a large corporation.
Cloud Computing also furthers staff productivity and innovation by providing access to the latest technology without the need for any investment in upgrades so small firms get world class IT on a global scale without having to spend a penny. IT executives have raised some worries about the security of their data in the Cloud. But since all data and applications are centralized in a data centre, it is vastly simpler to enable and enforce processes and procedures to ensure security, privacy and other best practices. No data is stored on a device, so you never have to worry about proprietary data falling into the wrong hands if the device itself is lost, stolen or breaks. This is particularly significant with potentially gigabytes of sensitive corporate data sitting on the desk of every member of staff. But some executives are still hesitant to take the step: their opinion is that they would no longer be able to ‘touch and feel’ the systems which drive their organization.
Alex Parker, CTO of Commensus PLC is not surprised by this reaction, but feels there is enough experience of remote working to ease those concerns. “Data centres have been on the scene for three decades or more: Cloud computing is simply a logical progression of that service. There has been little evidence of organizations experiencing problems with access to data and with comprehensive service level agreements that specify virtually continuous availability, any remaining concerns should be set aside.”
Most businesses are small (over 98% have less than 100 employees) and they like it that way: they value the flexibility, responsiveness and customer interaction. It is clearer than ever that the competitiveness of an organization is now less dependent on its size than ever before. By having effective use of today’s communications capabilities, small firms can compete against anyone, anytime, anywhere, of any size.
If you think it, you can do it. With the growth of cloud technology and the applications and solutions available to small business, the sky really is the limit and size is no longer an issue.
Contribution By Commensus PLC
Specializing in Cloud Computing ( http://www.commensus.com ) solutions for companies throughout the UK.