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Cloud computing for business might be an appealing option, allowing access to the company database anywhere and any time without the hassle of software upgrades, maintenance and on-site storage. Compared with traditional computer systems, cloud computing for business can often offer significant savings as well, and the system is instantly scalable to a changing business’s needs. Colleagues can work on the same documents from anywhere in the world without constantly emailing updates. Some business owners and managers are, however, reluctant to trust an outside agency with the security of the company’s database and sensitive documents. The cloud computing model requires an Internet connection, a condition that might also give decision makers pause, with any interruption of service bringing business to a screeching halt.
Instead of the traditional computing model in which all hardware and software is on the business’ premises, cloud computing gives the business access to software and data storage space online. Depending on the needs of the business, free and subscription services are available. Authorized users need a password to access the system.
One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing for business is cost. With the service provider looking after hardware requirements, software upgrades and maintenance, businesses can avoid much of the expense associated with information technology. For those with only basic computing needs, such as email, word processing and spreadsheets, free services are available. Subscription-based cloud computing providers are also available with more advanced applications.
Access is another huge advantage of cloud computing for business. With an Internet connection, authorized users can access the system from absolutely anywhere. All software is also online, meaning that computer programs do not have to be installed to read the information. Information can be read not only on computers and laptops but also on handheld devices such as smart phones. Users can simultaneously access and work on files as well, even when they are a great distance apart.
The system is not without its limitations, though. Cloud computing does relieve the business of many of the costs associated with computer systems, but it requires trusting another company with vital information. The business no longer has direct control over security or storage issues and no longer decides which software packages to use. Some providers restore some control to their clients by making it possible for businesses to maintain backup files on-site, an option that should be considered.
Trust in a service provider is vital when choosing to go with cloud computing for business. Technical problems and system maintenance can make critical information inaccessible, bringing the business to a standstill. Internet connections might also fail from time to time, which will also make cloud computing impossible. Finally, if the provider should shut down or go out of business, files might be lost forever, underlining the importance of selecting a reliable, reputable provider.