Ten years ago “moving to the cloud” would have meant strapping on Mr. Jetson’s spacesuit and attempting to relocate. But today that phrase is as relevant as “tweet”, “unfriend” and “wi-fi”. Most people have an abstract idea of what it means. Don’t worry, this post will not dive very deep into the technical aspects of cloud computing, but let’s begin with a basic definition. Wikipedia defines cloud computing as, “the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet). Cloud computing entrusts remote services with a user’s data, software and computation.”
With that groundwork laid, what does cloud computing mean to your business?
At a very basic level, the cloud can provide “off-site” file backup and storage. The providers’ off-site servers are backed up, duplicated and replicated for security and redundancy. With unique log-in credentials, a customer can access his files remotely across the internet by PC or a smartphone app. The cloud data backup plan is a great idea because PC hard drives fail and external hard drives, flash drives and discs are not 100% reliable. If your data is important to you, then it is important to use a combination of the above storage methods as a solid, comprehensive plan.
Another advantage that cloud computing can offer businesses relates to software and services or “software as a service”. Traditionally to use a software program such as QuickBooks, a customer would buy the software package on a CD, install it on a PC and only have access to the program at that one computer. Cloud computing allows a business to use software programs online, without having to install a program on a local computer and access is available from any PC with internet access (or a smartphone app).
Small businesses with remote employees can also take advantage of this “move to the cloud”. Tracking the employees’ time can be cumbersome, costly, and time consuming, while affecting the biggest line item on a budget…payroll. Small businesses can purchase time tracking software and hardware, but there are many drawbacks to this strategy. The software is generally expensive, needs regular updates (often at an expense) and is chained to one computer. The hardware can be cost-prohibitive for smaller companies and will eventually fail or become obsolete. The process of repairing or replacing the hardware leads to more costs and system downtime, while a reputable cloud, or web-based timekeeping company, maintains full operation 99.99% of the time.
An article in Infoworld.com illustrates why businesses that track employee time with handwritten timecards should consider a cloud or web-based timekeeping system. The author states, “Cloud computing comes into focus only when you think about what IT (Information Technology) always needs: a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software…it means no upfront investment in servers or software licensing.” These factors are huge along with the benefits of accurate timekeeping and automatically calculated hours!
Is your company ready to move to the cloud?