Cloud Computing – Great Solutions for Businesses of Any Size
The Big Global Project
Company X, an engineering consulting firm, has just landed a project to clean up a water system in country Z. A project manager and several engineers will be traveling to that country to “set up shop” and begin the work. The manager is expected to provide progress reports on a regular basis and may have to send his/her designs, cost analyses, and so forth back home for review, suggestions, and approval. All is going well, until the project manager really needs some data or documents from home; or maybe he needs additional expertise to review his project designs and make suggestions. Traditionally, there have been standard methods of communication between the project manager/engineers and their home base, through phone conversations and email, and, more recently, Skype. But these forms of communication involve loading huge files, images, etc. into emails and the individual at the other end unpacking and downloading them, and then providing the review and making suggestions, re-packing them and sending the whole package back via email to the project manager. This whole process can be time-consuming and lacking in security. Phone calls and Skyping are not too efficient either, given the differences in time zones.
The Small Local Project
Company Y is a copywriting business with local and regional clients. It exists to provide contracted website design and content marketing for other small and medium-sized web-based companies. The company employs a team of designers and a separate team of marketers who collaborate with one another within their own teams and across teams as well. A large project is in the works for a new client and both teams are working hard to meet some pretty tight deadlines. Bill, the marketing team leader, has to stay home with a sick child today, and, even with emails and phone calls, it is quite possible that a crucial deadline may be missed. The input and collaboration of at least four team members plus Bill will be needed, and communication will definitely suffer today.
Cloud Computing to the Rescue
In both of these scenarios, cloud technology and service is the answer. In fact, it is now called the “anywhere, anytime” tool for all businesses, small, medium or large.
Just What is Cloud Technology?
First and foremost, it is a concept. A business can set up a web-based infrastructure in which to store data, files, and documents, and give its employees, contractors, suppliers, and even customers access to specific pieces of that infrastructure as necessary and appropriate. It completely removes the absolute necessity of people being in the physical presence of one another or in the workplace in order to conduct business and to collaborate. And because cloud services have the flexibility of offering layers upon layers of storage and collaboration services, businesses can pick and choose those services they need and only pay for those specific services.
The Benefits of Cloud Service to Businesses
Any business that has experienced the difficulties of the two scenarios above, as well as any number of other issues, can benefit from cloud technology in the following ways:
- Cost Savings. Any business can get the benefit of very sophisticated technology without having to purchase it, install it, maintain it and employ the staff to do so. Once everyone has a PC, laptop, or mobile device and a browser, everything else can be accomplished in the cloud, with someone else maintaining the technology.
- Levels of Access. Every organization wants to have different access points for its employees and its contractors. This requires setting up an in-house system for controlling who has access to what, and if mistakes are made or systems are breached, the wrong individuals may gain access to information and data you do not want them to have. (e.g., personnel files, employee evaluations, budgets). With cloud technology, each individual can be given a portal that allows access to those projects, data, and information that is appropriate but not to anything else.
- Storage Limitations. Using a cloud system means storing large amounts of data off-site so as not to encumber a local computer system that cannot handle it, without expensive upgrades.
- Progress Checks. Supervisors, managers, and team leaders can use cloud services to check on progress of projects anytime and from anywhere, without having to have physical presence or use emails and phones at inopportune times.
- Scaling. A business can scale up or scale down its operations and storage needs as it grows or changes direction. And because the cloud technology is already there, very little time is lost in these transitions.
- Collaboration. This is perhaps one of the best aspects of cloud services. When a team is working on a project, and that project is in the “cloud,” all members of that team can access it from anywhere; all members can hold “meetings” in the cloud, even with visual capabilities; everyone’s input can be added; and, as the project evolves, all historical versions of that project can be kept should it be necessary to return to them. And if any team member is out of the office, out of town, or simply at home, that collaboration can continue to occur without the time-consuming back and forth emails with all of the “cc’s” an “back and forths.” Members can collaborate in real time.
- Security. You data and files are secure and off-site. And, if you feel the need for a local back-up, you can always store this stuff on external devices that can be kept at a secure location, in case there would be an Internet outage. In addition, if you use cloud services as your backup, you have the security of knowing that if things “crash” locally, you still have access to everything instantly.
Cloud technology and services are improving and becoming more sophisticated quite rapidly and regularly. Businesses will have a continually increasing array of services from which to choose, and the “pay as you use” concept makes the use of these services really cost-effective.