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There's lot of buzz around cloud services, even though some of this buzz is generated by cloud-service industry itself, there is in fact lots of interest surrounding around the new world of the cloud. Much of the chatter is about stories where a small business saves substantially by going for cloud services and can then invest in some other activities.
Drawing from experience of various small businesses which have used cloud services we can clearly see that overall it has been a positive experience along with few negative effects. Gradually cloud service providing companies have minimize these negative aspects.
Entrepreneurs are drawn to cloud services due to low initial costs.
Cloud is actually data centres which can be geographically distant from the main businesses where that data is being created. Data is constantly being uploaded on these servers over the web in an encrypted form. Whenever a query is made, data processing is also done there only and results are relayed back again over internet. While this cuts cost dramatically, only downside is not being able to control every aspect of data storage and processing.
Ideally the future seems to be a middle path between servers on site and in the cloud. Many have even started using hybrid structure where they are using on site server to store regular data and then use cloud to create a backup.
Other from using cloud for data storage, next thing is to use cloud based application. These application are always synced together and can be used on multiple devices seamlessly. For e.g. If you are using expense management cloud application for expense management then you can make one entry in any of the devices and same entry will be reflected on all the devices reducing repetition and increasing efficiency.
Even with cost reduction and convenience of use, some businesses are still sceptical mainly due to security risks. This has been the main hurdle for companies providing these services in winning over more clients. Implementation of cloud services often comes with a learning curve, more so if employees are not tech savvy. Businesses must invest in training and development of employees to bring them up to speed with new technology.
Cloud computing is going to be the future. What small businesses need is an open mind to embrace this new technology just as they embraced internet and it can become an important competitive strategy for the businesses.