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How Can the Cloud Add Value to Your Business?

How Can the Cloud Add Value to Your Business?

Cloud computing is a passing fad. It’s not worth bringing such a disruptive change to our current IT system for a so-called ‘solution’ that isn’t even adding value to your business – this, of course, is me displaying one of the arguments that some managers (IT managers, CFO or even CEO) have against the adoption of cloud-computing. Does this argument have any substance? Let’s dig deeper.

So let’s see first how most companies develop their new applications. Most small businesses think that their needs are so specific that they have to develop customized applications to address them. While I don’t question the fact that some customization may be needed, I strongly advise small business owners to also consider cloud-based solutions. Let’s take for example the case of e-mail: being used to working with an ISP-based e-mail (that comes with a lot of limitations), most small business owners are led to think that having an in-house e-mail server is the way to go: simply because their in-house IT team would be able to configure their e-mail system the way they want it. To some extent, this is true: but most of the time, those same IT managers would come back to management with additional budget for implementing new features. And, at the end of the fiscal year, chances are that the IT budget would exceed what was initially forecasted. So how does cloud computing add value under such scenario?

It’s pretty simple, with a pay-as-you go business grade hosted Exchange solution, for example, that small business would get almost all the customization that they would require, and without the burden of having to manage unforeseen budget requests. Indeed, the billing structure is simple: with a low monthly cost per mailbox, this small business would get an e-mail system with the latest technologies ready to be turned on. And most of all, should upgrades and updates be needed, that same small business doesn’t have to be impacted by the costs related to the implementation of those updates as those costs are taken in charge by the cloud computing service provider. Isn’t that added value?

Now, let’s get back to the basics of every IT system: the ‘traditional’ way of doing things is the following: conceive the IT system, invest hugely into IT infrastructure and software, set things up and train; then after three years, you usually have to go through that same cycle of investment again. Cloud computing definitely adds value when it comes to the second step – investing in IT infrastructure and software. Indeed, a small business (or a solopreneur) can drastically shrink the budget allocated to this area since they can opt for a cloud-based solution for anything that needs a server: e-mail system, billing, customer relationship management system etc. Not only does the user now have the advantage of being very quick to be ready to work (it’s almost a matter of choosing the cloud provider and getting your account set up) but that user is still able to work should their in-house system fail – for example, the laptop they’re working on has a faulty hard drive, or viruses have come into play.

I could go on with this list of added values that cloud computing can bring, but I’m going to stop with these short and easy to remember facts to think about. Feel free to add some more added vales that you can find in the comment section.

Cloud collaboration tools such as hosted Exchange and hosted SharePoint are available from Giacom. For more information, visit www.giacom.com.

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