Cloud-based applications are far from rare. There was a time, many years ago, when cloud services were expensive and experimental (and considered risky!).
But the technology behind the cloud has advanced considerably to keep up the pace with business demands.
90% of organizations now use the cloud in some way, with 50% using cloud services as their preferred solution.
Let’s back it up for a moment. When people talk about “cloud solution” this, and “cloud service” that, what are they referring to? In other words, what exactly does this “cloud” business entail?
The Facts of the Cloud…
First off, the facts – the cloud isn’t up in the sky. It’s not a big, puffy vapor of data, despite its name. The cloud is actually just a mass of powerful servers that aren’t on your property.
Where exactly are these servers, you ask?
The answer is everywhere. These physical servers are hosted in physically secure locations around the world – for the express purpose of handling and protecting your previous data and applications. So their contents are typically mirrored throughout multiple other locations to ensure redundancy.
In practice, that means if one cloud center goes down, your data stays up.
It’s a pretty darn useful tool for just about everyone, but the cloud approach especially benefits companies. Cloud technology redundancy significantly cuts down on the chances of businesses losing their (and their customers’) data to devastating events.
…and Cloud Applications, Too
So what do “cloud applications” do? Simply put, these applications that are hosted on remote servers are inherently useful because they enable you to access and share your work from anywhere in the world.
There’s also a good chance you’ve used already them before. Popular cloud applications include Dropbox, Netflix, Xbox Live, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive, just to name a few.
While cloud-based applications are amazing for both personal use and entertainment purposes, they’re even better for business.
Since these applications reside on a remote server, they don’t require many local resources to operate. Most of the computing and storage takes place on the server itself.
For lean-running businesses, that means spending less money on powerful (yet bulky) machines. So you can use that spend for sleeker, more functional and more portable devices that can access the internet quickly to use these cloud-based applications.
Big Business, Small Business
With the rise of cloud applications (and cloud computing, in general), business began another major change in workplace technology demands. The shift occurred sometime between 2006 and 2008. Prior to those years, companies would have to rely solely on on-premise servers, which required complex remote connections.
To get work done efficiently, businesses jumped through several technical hoops. This included securing a remote connection, encrypting data, and ensuring adequate data file (aka “packet”) transfer.
Each step required considerable technical support to implement successfully. But what happened if your small business didn’t have access to these services or internal knowledge?
You lost out on business, nine times out of ten.
Without the technology means to compete with bigger companies, small companies became confined to competing with businesses of similar size and situation for the same customers using the same limited tools and resources. Aiming higher and farther was left to bigger companies who could get more done from more places, keeping them productive at all times.
However, the introduction of cloud-based applications changed the landscape forever.
The Shift of Power
Cloud-based applications leveled the playing field for organizations of all sizes. A company of 3 people could attain the same service as a company of 3,000.
Aside from flexibility and mobility, the applications also provide unparalleled scalability.
Since most cloud-based applications function on a per-seat basis, it’s extremely easy to add or remove users as needed. It’s also easy to upgrade service tiers – applications allow you to gain more features that you may need as your company grows.
With these changes, small businesses gained the capabilities to work just as effectively and efficiently as big companies.
Almost instantly, they realized they could compete with large companies by offering the same (or new!) services with more personalization and other benefits that only small businesses can offer. The power shift began and the race for customer preferences suddenly included more contestants.