If you are looking to gain access to services and software which go beyond your organisational capacity, cloud computing may be the answer. There are now hundreds of options available to you and there may even be specific solutions for your industry. As cloud computing services are constantly being innovated, there is no way to say definitively what is right for you - but as most solutions are affordable and easy to access, there is no harm in trying many until you find what’s right for you.
What are the most popular cloud computing services?
You’ve probably already heard of many cloud computing services, in fact you may already be using them without realising it. Web-based services like Gmail have become so common that younger business owners often don’t realise that the standard email solution just a few years ago was house an email server in your office. Gmail and services like it removed the need to purchase and setup a server and works perfectly without knowing anything about SMTP or IMAP (the protocols which mail servers use to function).
Other popular cloud services that you may or may not have heard of include:
- Google Drive: offers an online data storage solution, with free and paid options
- Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Forms: offers a cloud-based replacement to Microsoft Office and other information processing programs
- Asana Collaboration: offers a solution to workflow management and collaboration within your organisation
- Intuit QuickBooks Online Plus: offers a cloud-based accounting solution with a comprehensive suite of features and an easy to use interface
- SurePayroll: is a powerful tool for small businesses to use when managing their employees’ payment records
- Xpenditure: is a multi-lingual expense tracking tool which can simplify preparing your financial records come tax time - especially if you have multiple employees
- NutShell CRM: provides a cloud-based Client Relationship Management system which allows you to automate sales processes, manage your contacts and review reports and analytics
- Siteground Web Hosting: is a web hosting tool which is designed to be extremely friendly to novice webmasters and offers fantastic security and server control
- Sprout Social: is a powerful social media analytics tool for sorting and discovering social media data
- Shopify: is an all-in-one eCommerce platform that requires almost no experience to set up and manage
What are the drawbacks of cloud computing?
The benefits of cloud computing increase every day while the drawbacks are being steadily removed. With that said, there are still a number of potential problems for any business owner to consider before using the cloud:
- Control: when you move your computing services to a large cloud-provider you are relinquishing a certain level of control which would otherwise be in the hands of your own IT staff
- Customisability: while most small businesses lack the resources to truly customise their IT solutions anyway, it’s true that cloud services will only have limited customisability as you will not be able to hire developers to edit the codebase
- Downtime: while cloud providers do everything in their power to minimise server outages, there is always a risk of downtime
- Security: by definition, your cloud services are accessible through the internet which makes them vulnerable to hacking