By Jessica Oaks
Trends in business tend to change often and quickly, but one trend that can’t be ignored is the move towards the cloud. Put simply, more and more businesses are adopting cloud-based storage and software solutions with each passing year. In fact, it is estimated that by 2015 spending on cloud storage solutions could reach $180 billion. Suffice it to say, a decentralized approach seems to be the golden ticket these days.
The question, then, isn’t whether cloud-based systems will catch on – as the numbers show, they already have – but rather why are cloud-based solutions becoming the go-to for businesses large and small? And, should you be a business owner yourself, are cloud-based storage solutions right for your organization? In short, there are many reasons why companies should utilize the cloud, and yes, that includes your business. Let’s take a look at why that is the case.
There are numerous benefits to adopting a cloud-based solution. Chief among them, however, are the following:
One of the most attractive things to business owners about cloud solutions is that they are decentralized; the odds of data being compromised, corrupted, lost or manipulated in some form due to power outage, theft, hacking or other means is greatly reduced. Cloud storage solutions are so-named because information is spread out among a vast network of servers and hard drives – there is no central location where all of your information is stored and prone to attack. Of course, providers of cloud-based storage also maintain their own security measures to safeguard against such contingencies. Though there’s no such thing as a flawless security solution when it comes to digital, you can greatly reduce your risk with the cloud.
2. Cost savings
In most cases, cloud-based solutions allow businesses to save substantially on IT costs, as much of the responsibility of an IT team – maintaining data, upgrading systems, looking after hardware, etc. — is offset to a third party (in this case, the provider of the storage solution being sought). As payroll tends to be one of the most expensive outlays for any business, and costs related to information technology can quickly spiral out of control when all facets are taken into account, it’s easy to see why businesses would be interested in outsourcing data storage, software upgrades, archiving and retrieval, and other related needs.
The cloud helps to streamline business practices by giving business owners increased flexibility. By enabling information retrieval across multiple devices, such as business cell phones, tablets and laptops, cloud-based storage allows for quick, easy and universal access to documents and information – perfect for the business person on the go. An employee no longer has to be in the office to have access to important and relevant business documents, and the size of his or her device (or more accurately, the storage capacity of the device) is no longer a factor in what documents can be accessed while away from the office. The cloud puts relevant information at an employee’s fingertips, regardless of where they are – that is flexibility.
4. Low maintenance
Storing data in the cloud means no IT team, no servers, no hard drives, no software updates … you get the point. To use an old-school analogy, the cloud is akin to taking all of those four-bin metal filing cabinets that used to be strewn about offices and hiring an outside contractor to store them in some remote warehouse somewhere: out of sight, out of mind, yet still there if you need it. The cloud, quite simply, is just a much easier, cleaner, more convenient way of doing things – why store data on your machines when you can store it on someone else’s?
Believe it or not, utilizing the cloud isn’t just a good idea because it makes using business cell phones easier – it can actually help the environment, too. Research conducted by scientists at Harvard University, in conjunction with teams at Reading University and Imperial College, found that 80 percent adoption of cloud-based email, storage and software solutions in Europe, Brazil, China, Canada and Indonesia alone could reduce energy consumption by 11.2 terawatt-hours annually – or 25 percent of the total amount of energy used by the city of London in a year – and abate 4.5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. That’s no small feat, considering this savings is achieved merely through the adoption of cloud-based solutions over centralized, local ones.
Image credit: Flickr/FutUndBeidl
Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.