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The benefits of Cloud Computing

Security and Privacy

What happens if you lose your laptop? Hundreds of thousands are lost yearly. How many times have you misplaced a USB stick with the latest version of a presentation needed in an hour? Loss of data can have financial implications and more seriously, security and privacy impacts. Data stored in the cloud is protected and still accessible if you lose a laptop, a USB stick or your phone.

Many companies unwittingly contravene data protection and privacy laws using and storing data locally. A benefit of using a cloud provider such as Microsoft is that regulations and laws that demand data is held securely is covered and complies with standards such as ISO27001.

Scalability and Elasticity

Any computing resource is a major investment. It has been an age-old problem that for a business to satisfy peak demands they effectively need to over resource IT hardware. Underutilisation is costly and wasteful.

Because cloud resources are available on-demand, responding to peaks and troughs is quick and easy. Companies can pay for the increased resource as they need it and scale back when they don’t. In addition, those fluctuations in activity are seamless and invisible to users, unlike on-premises facilities where staff can experience a degradation in computing power when the system is being heavily used.

Efficiencies

The cost efficiencies of cloud-based computing are numerous. Moving from a CAPEX model to OPEX is agile and controllable and better still gives business a level of IT spend predictability not possible before. The swift deployment cuts start-up costs to a minimum.

Giving a workforce the right tools to do the job increases efficiencies. Traditionally buying software was a risk. A company could invest in multiple licences, pay for installation, and support and then find the product didn’t meet business objectives.  The problem was that having made the investment users were locked in. Now with cloud-based subscription services, a business can pay to use software for a limited amount of time, see if it satisfies their needs.

Reliability

The cloud offers a level of reliability that would be far too costly for many SMEs to ensure independently. Cloud providers have vast numbers of servers and networks with redundancy configurations in place. If one physical component fails, the service continues to run uninterrupted and unaffected on alternative components. Cloud providers tend to use resources from multiple data centres. This reduces the risk of any single point of failure and even if a whole data centre was to fail then individual cloud services would continue.

Mobility

The way people expect to work has changed. Staff want to utilise the time on the train, work from home, or access data whilst at a client’s premises.

There is no longer a need to be confined to the desk for 8 hours a day. Applications like Office 365 allow users to access information, files, and data wherever they are. Instant access to information whilst on the go increases responsiveness to client needs, this can give a competitive edge.

Flexibility

The scalability and elasticity benefits allow companies to be flexible. A company can add more users to respond to business change instantly. Being able to select the tools needed when they are needed from the cloud eradicates otherwise lengthy deployment times.

Consumers of cloud services can pay for what they need as and when they need it. This is a very attractive benefit for companies that wish to increase the flexibility of choice due to their core business being prone to seasonal fluctuations for instance.

Business Continuity

Business continuity and disaster recovery require complex planning. For many SMEs this is an area that is overwhelming and difficult, and often gets side-lined or becomes outdated. Cloud service providers take care of this aspect of operating and have the capability to resolve issues much quicker than companies not using the cloud can.

The prohibitive cost of back-up facilities and off-site data storage is no longer an issue. Having data stored in the cloud ensures it is backed up and protected in a secure and safe environment. Being able to instantly replicate the working environment or usual user interface by replacing a lost or damaged laptop with any internet-enabled device speaks for itself.

Business Agility

SMEs can benefit from no longer being the poor relation to large organisations when it comes to enterprise-class software and technology. This allows SMEs to really harness business agility in many ways.

The cloud allows companies to respond much more quickly to a change in business and marketplace needs, not least because innovation and product development is faster in the cloud.

The ease and ability to automate IT management increases business agility by way of increased adaptability.

Productivity and Collaboration

Cloud-based computing fosters streamlined processes leading to increased productivity. It takes fewer people to do more work using the cloud.

Collaboration is a major boost to productivity. The ability for employees, contractors or even third parties where appropriate to access the same information removes time lost sending out documents via email where only one person can work on a file at a time. With files in a central location, everyone works off one central copy. Gone is the risk of one user updating the wrong version, a situation that is not only wasteful in terms of time but can lead to confusion and errors that have reputation and cost impacts.

Productivity also increases when the collaboration the cloud offers lets staff talk to each other whilst making changes. No costly on-site meetings or time delays trying to find a time when all staff can be in the same place.


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