What differences can cloud computing make to the day-today running of your business? Firstly it can make much of IT someone else’s problem so you can focus on core business, and secondly it affords ‘business beyond buildings’.
Someone else’s problem
The argument for using third-party services in general is to offload non-core business activities to experts in the relevant fields. If you are busy doing what your business does best then why waste time on everyday tasks like bookkeeping or cleaning your windows when you can pay someone else to do it better and faster than you? The same goes for IT system administration, which is often a headache for businesses, especially small businesses with limited resources, but you can save precious time and avoid worries by moving some or all of your activities into a public cloud.
For example, do you really need to manage your own Microsoft Exchange e-mail server and deal with spam, viruses,
databases and back-up systems internally? Do you have a disaster recovery plan should your systems fail? Do your
internal IT systems depend on one or more internal staff or external IT consultants to keep them up and running?
Here is a list of common IT administration tasks you can avoid having to do yourself by using the appropriate cloud
- buying, installing, supporting and updating desktop business software on specific PCs;
- tracking hardware and software assets;
- backing up data off-site automatically and redundantly;
- setting up virtual private networks;
- securing web applications and patching web servers;
- buying and configuring server hardware that would almost certainly be underutilized;
- buying and configuring high-specification PCs when a web browser is usually all you need.
And with very little technical knowledge cloud computing enables you to perform the following tasks yourself:
- set up new user accounts for e-mail and other applications in the cloud;
- assign users to one or more role-based user groups and limit their access to IT systems according to their role;
- restore deleted or archived files and folders from back-ups;
- create or destroy a new virtual server in minutes;
- temporarily increase the performance of a web server or expand a cluster of web servers.
Business beyond buildings
Cloud computing frees you from common IT administrative tasks, but what can your business do with cloud computing
technologies? Depending on any restrictions imposed by corporate governance and your organization’s internal (operational) controls, here are some examples to consider:
- access your data and applications from any internet connection, regardless of the device you are using, so you can work from home or on the move in exactly the same way as you would in your office;
- avoid storing confidential business data on laptops, PCs and other devices that could be stolen;
- share documents and collaborate more easily on documents and projects with colleagues, partners and customers;
- add pre-integrated third-party applications from within your cloud or connect to applications or data sources in other clouds (LinkedIn or Facebook for example) using standard web service protocols;
- use visual web-based development tools to quickly create new web applications and document workflows that make more of your business data and speed up processes;
- run highly intensive data processing tasks on any number of duplicate virtual servers and then delete the server instances when you have your results.