Did you know that on average, a person can use 36 cloud-based applications every day?

The cloud seems to be everywhere, but it’s still really hard to define. Even more challenging, it’s hard to know what it can do for a business.

Are you ready to learn about the basics of cloud computing and how you can leverage it to grow your business?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about cloud-based applications.

What Is the Cloud?

When you hear “The Cloud,” your mind can travel to some mythological place. The cloud isn’t a mythological place. It’s the ultimate in business computing.

Take your email as an example. That’s cloud-based. Your accounting software, customer relationship management software, and servers are likely to be cloud-based, too.

The cloud refers to applications that are internet-based. The data is hosted off-site, usually by a third-party cloud provider.

Compare that to how applications worked before the cloud. You would have to install software on every individual device in your company. That takes time and money, not to mention that it’s not that efficient.

What the Cloud Does for Your Business

Cloud-based services were initially targeted towards enterprise-level companies. Small businesses, even solopreneurs began to see the possibilities of cloud-based applications.

These are only some of the impacts your business can experience with cloud-based services.

Lower Software Costs

It was noted earlier that before cloud applications became mainstream, businesses had to rely on installing software locally on each and every device. You would have to pay a licensing fee regardless of how often the device was used.

Most cloud-based applications charge on a per-user basis. This means that you can pay for users as you need them. For example, if your business has a slow season, you can cut back on those software costs and pick right back up when you hire seasonal employees.

Plus, you have the option to pay for software on an annual basis or a monthly basis. Traditionally, you would have to shell out a lot of money at once for the licensing fees.

Data Accessibility

The cloud exists on the internet, and so does your data when you use cloud-based services. The advantage to this is that you can access your data anywhere at any time on any device.

This is great for road warriors and people who just want to work away from the office for the day.

The data is accessible, and it’s updated in real-time. That gives you and everyone in your organization a complete snapshot of what’s happening in your organization.

More Efficient

The big advantage of having access to real-time data is that communication improves and things can get done faster.

Let’s say that you’re working on a project and you need access to last year’s financial information. Rather than waiting on Steve in accounting to send the financial spreadsheets, you can just access the accounting program and get the information you need.

Communication improves not only between you and your employees but your customers as well. A customer relationship management system in the cloud puts your sales, marketing, and customer service teams on the same page.

A sales rep has a conversation with a customer about a deal and updates the notes in the system. The customer calls in with questions and gets a customer service rep on the line.

Rather than giving incorrect information or passing the customer over to the sales rep, the customer service rep reads the notes and handles the situation seamlessly. The customer gets what they need at that moment.

Potential Drawbacks of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing isn’t perfect, and before you dive right in, you should know what you’re getting into. There are some drawbacks of cloud computing that might be a dealbreaker for your business.

You might be inclined to sign up for cloud-based products because they are accessible from anywhere. The caveat is that the data is accessible anywhere there is an internet connection. If you are in an area that has spotty data connections on the road, you may not have such an advantage.

Another drawback is that you are handing your data over to a third-party provider. Your data could be at risk if you chose a provider that doesn’t take security seriously.

You are also depending on the cloud service provider to provide excellent technical support and limit downtime.

It’s possible to avoid these pitfalls. You have to make sure that you choose the best cloud service provider.

Types of Cloud Computing

As you start looking at cloud services for your business, you’ll soon discover that cloud applications fall into a few different categories.

These are the most common types of cloud solutions you’ll come across for your business. You’ll notice that these services are titled as a service. Remember, they’re not products, but ongoing services that you sign up for.

IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service. This refers to anything within your organization’s infrastructure that can be on the cloud. These best cloud servers, networking platforms, and off-site data storage are examples.

SaaS is the one that you’ll come across the most. That means Software as a Service. Gmail, Google Docs, Netflix, and QuickBooks are SaaS applications.

These are software programs that you sign up for through a third-party.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a little like SaaS, but there’s one major difference. PaaS gives companies a way to develop their own software applications in the cloud, rather than using a third-party vendor for software.

The Future of Your Business Is in the Cloud

Each of these types of cloud-based programs offers your business different options to be more efficient and save money. You should take a look at your needs and figure out your needs first. Then, take a look at different vendors.

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