Make Your Small Business Slimmer with Cloud Computing

With cloud computing, a small business can reduce the amount of overhead it shells out in file collaboration, online backup and capital expenses. When using traditional computing models, a company would have to provide quite a substantial capital outlay just to get started. Not only were physical servers required, but everything needed to get them going would also have to be paid for in advance, including hard disks, memory, operating system software and user applications. In addition to the servers and their required components, all of the items necessary to create a data center would also have to be purchased up front. Equipment such as server racks, cabinets, networking hardware, power cables, cooling systems, security systems and other data center-related components can quickly blow a project’s budget. The initial bill alone is enough to put off many start-ups from even starting up!

small business cloud

You Get What You Pay For

Cloud computing changes all of this, providing a “pay-as-you-go” model for computing services. When using cloud computing, a company only has to pay for the resources it actually consumes. There is no longer a need to purchase, install and deploy massive amounts of hardware and software just to get started, only to discover one’s project is either over-built or under-supplied. This pay-as-you-go model allows a project to shrink and grow its demand for both processor time and network bandwidth. A company no longer needs to constantly pay for running idle servers days on end. When a cloud-based server is not being used by one cloud computing customer, it can be allocated to another. This trait, known as scalability, is a fundamental characteristic that makes cloud computing what it is. Why spring for server hardware when you can better use that money for VoIP phones or LiveDrive’s online storage solutions?

What Scalability is All About

Scalability works by allowing a cloud provider to share all cloud resources amongst multiple clients. With cloud computing, computing and network resources are housed in a data center just as they are in traditional deployments. The biggest difference is that cloud computing servers are typically hosted by a cloud provider who rents them to multiple clients instead of just servicing one client. Cloud servers tend to make use of virtualization software that allows multiple systems, known as instances, to operate concurrently on the same hardware. This scheme allows multiple customers to each have the appearance of running on their own separate computing servers even though all instances actually share the same storage, memory, networking hardware and processors being used by a single cloud server.

Cloud Computing the Timeshare Way

The cloud computing model can be thought of as being analogous to a condo timeshare. All timeshare owners claim title to a given unit but don’t actually make use of it at the same time. Each is given full access to the unit’s bedrooms, appliances, utilities and recreational facilities, but only for a certain time. When that time is up, they vacate the unit and allow the next set of owners to occupy the unit. The same goes for cloud computing instances; each instance gets to “occupy” the cloud server for a given amount of time before it must vacate and give way to the next occupant. The biggest difference between switching cloud instances and timeshare occupants is that cloud instances switch within milliseconds instead of days or weeks.

About the Author: This article is written by Danny Cheston

How the Cloud Can Help Small Businesses Get Ahead

Some small businesses make the mistake of ignoring technology. The people who own these companies often believe that it’s only the corporate giants that can benefit from leveraging new tech, or that cloud services would be too expensive for their operation. Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, small businesses that leverage the Web can develop the kind of loyal customer base that would never form under a monolithic corporation. People love to support those within their local community, and in order to reach them, businesses have to go where they are: on the Internet – in the cloud.


Free Promotion

Something as simple as a fan page on a social networking site can serve as an advertising platform. If 100 people see it, every person they have on their friend’s list will see it too, and the effect multiplies when someone spreads positive feedback about a local business. Promotion can go viral even at the local level, and businesses that take advantage of that can save a lot on advertising costs.

Cheaper Software

It costs thousands upon thousands of dollars to purchase every piece of software that’s necessary to run a business. Nearly all of these applications have a cloud-based counterpart, and cloud applications run the gamut between free and cheap. At most, someone will have to pay a low monthly fee to gain access to certain applications through a cloud storage service.

No Hardware Required

Purchasing cloud storage makes sense regardless of what someone needs for his business. Hundreds of gigabytes can be had for less than $20 per month. That eliminates the need to buy hundreds of dollars worth of storage devices and backup software. While it’s still a good idea to keep some physical backups on hand, some cloud services have that covered as well. A few business oriented services will allow customers to request certain files on disks or hard drives for a small fee.

There are other benefits that result from this. When less hardware is required to run a business, less office space needs to be purchased. When files can be accessed from the cloud, business owners can stay away from the office for extended periods of time and still have access to pertinent information. With certain businesses, a physical location is completely unnecessary once cloud services are brought into the picture. It makes it far easier to bargain for time, and business owners can do what they need to do far more easily when they’re not bound by the limitations of a low-tech enterprise.

Working With Other People

Business owners used to be restricted to selecting workers from local applicants. Now certain businesses can hire anyone from across the globe, or entrepreneurs can choose to hire independent contractors on a per-project basis. Day-to-day business operations can flex according to a business’ needs, and any enterprise with that kind of flexibility is far more robust than one that lacks it.

Everything is in the Cloud

Computers that use the cloud for everything have already hit the market. The cloud is not a gimmick, and it’s not a convenient but frivolous function of modern computing. It is what the entire world is now shaping itself around; the Internet is weaving itself into everything, and what’s beneficial for a business today will be necessary tomorrow. Small businesses need to adapt now in order to survive the future.

About the Author: Alan Martin is a tech blogger.