There’s so much talk about cloud, but let’s step back for a moment to cover the basics as they relate to SMBs. Quite simply, cloud computing means that on-premises IT systems, applications, and databases are hosted in one or more state-of-the-art data centers managed by a cloud services provider.
For this reason, cloud services have become enormously popular for companies of all sizes, from the SMB to large enterprises. The cloud is universally believed to represent the future model for the delivery of IT services. A cloud services provider can usually operate more efficiently with the use of advanced virtualization technologies, an experienced technical support staff and a major investment in hosting facilities. And they can deliver hosted IT services more cost-effectively than a company that owns and manages its own dedicated, on-prem data center.
The Customer Benefits
Cloud services come in many forms—sometimes as point solutions, and sometimes as fully integrated applications and services that solve a range of business challenges. A simple example of a cloud service is hosted email. By moving a company’s email service from a dedicated system located on customer premises (such as a Microsoft Exchange Server) into the cloud as a hosted service, the customer can realize a number of benefits immediately.
First, the server itself is eliminated. No longer will a costly and complex device require floor space, electrical power, cooling, system upgrades, software patching, maintenance and repair. Email service in the cloud removes this overhead and replaces it with a hosted service. As a result, the heavy and unpredictable capital and operating expenses associated with an on-prem solution are replaced with a predictable monthly or annual service fee that dramatically reduces Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Even better, the simplicity of a hosted solution and the reach of the Internet enable untethered and universal access to the service for users located anywhere, and using any device. The cloud is not only a cost saver, it’s an enabler of mobility, information access, and device independence.
Now, imagine that all of the benefits associated with our simple email example are applied to any and every application or service that migrates to the cloud. The cost savings and organizational benefits become greatly multiplied.
As an SMB, you have an extremely broad range of cloud services available to you. Think of them as a collection of building blocks that you can use to solve problems and enable business objectives.