Leveraging cloud storage as a cost-effective way for small businesses to expand and grow without expensive infrastructure upgrades
The cloud. You’ve probably heard of it — and it’s not just a big fluffy thing in the sky. Cloud storage alleviates the need for your business to take care of tech needs in-house and can save your business money and resources, since it provides backup, storage and applications that can enhance productivity and stretch resources for less than comparable resources in-house.
Benefits and drawbacks
In 2012, 6 million small businesses joined the cloud, according to an SMB industry study by Parallels, for reasons including security, data management and storage space. The cloud provider — be it Dropbox, Egnyte, SugarSync or CX — has its own secure server and takes care of server maintenance and security so you don’t need to. If your server crashes, simply download everything you need from the cloud. Businesses that use a cloud server assume less risk in the event of data loss, property damage or equipment breakdown, according to Rackspace Hosting.
Since the provider monitors security issues, they will notify you in the event of a security breach or data loss. With only 40 percent of healthcare organizations reporting that they would either be able to prevent or to quickly detect a data breach that exposed patient information, according to a 2012 study by Ponemon Institute, having backup is crucial.
Cloud computing has a low barrier to entry, which makes it easy for your small business to choose services based on evolving needs. Pay for the storage space you need. As business increases, purchase more resources. In contrast, when you pay for physical resources, they aren’t scalable. You assume the entire financial cost up front, which can be prohibitive to entrepreneurs, according to sap.com.
While these features sound promising, the cloud is not perfect. Passwords and security measures may be breached, even if you require authentication and access control. If the cloud server goes down, you may not be able to access your resources for a period of time. Some cloud providers even assert ownership rights over the enterprise resources and data that you stored in the cloud. A close read of the contract will let you know what to expect.
Cloud storage options
With so many different cloud storage tools, search for one that fits your needs and your budget. Some, such as Dropbox offer a free plan that comes with limited space. These free plans allow you to try out different services before signing your business up for a business plan with more storage space. To learn more about different cloud storage options, one place to check out is Cloud Storage Finder reviews.
Storage is simply one aspect of cloud-based services. Some cloud storage services offer collaborative features, including chat, groups and real-time notifications that help increase collaboration within the workplace.
Questions to consider
Before you commit to a cloud plan, find out what the vendor guarantees. Find out what format your data will be stored in, how easy it will be for you to export or crosswalk data should you cancel the plan, what amount of bandwidth you will have for uploading data to the cloud, and what fee is associated with downloading data in the event it’s needed. Look for a cloud storage provider with bank-grade security, secure data transfer, secure stored data, access control and data separation, according to the director of research at CX.
The cloud’s flexibility provides a measure of security, and allows your employees to access work files from anywhere. Have a cloud storage provider that has or hasn’t worked for your business? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Also see our File Sharing and Cloud Storage Tools Directory for more small business cloud resources.
GUEST POST: This post was contributed by Isaac Hernandez who writes for several Spanish-language blogs and covers digital technology.
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