Every business person and technology editor I know is talking about the benefits of cloud computing. But what is it, what does it really mean for business and what are the monetary and tangible upsides?
Cloud means Internet. The computing happens on the Internet – instead of the software you use being installed on your desktop pc, it’s hosted on the Internet on a server installed in a data centre usually staffed by people who are proficient in managing technology. This type of “cloud” software is commonly known as “on demand” or Software as a Service (SaaS).
Some well known examples of popular Software as a Service are:
Web based CRM Software (Customer Relationship Management) – Salesforce.com pricing approximately $9 per user/month.
Small business management and accounting software (small business ERP) – Salesorder.com pricing $45 per user/month.
Medium sized business ERP software – NetSuite pricing around $99 per user/month.
There are a number of significant benefits for every business here:
Time, cost savings and reliability
Businesses no longer need a dedicated IT expert to help them identify, install and monitor the technology infrastructure thus lowering operating costs and time to implement. The task of constantly backing up data is removed as this is almost always an inherent feature of the “cloud” software. Cloud software “operators” almost always have fail over systems that can be brought to bear in instantly should a catastrophic issue occur.
Easier selection and more choice
With just a web browser, businesses now have immediate access to hundreds of business software they can in most cases immediately try and swiftly assess if the software fulfils their needs at no expense. This makes it simple for people in large corporations to circumvent the usual information technology buying processes and easily assess and prove their business proposal.
Better user experience
The internet provides immediate feedback to system makers and has led to amazing progress in user interface design resulting in easier to use software in turn improving learning times and improving user satisfaction. This of course means faster adoption and better productivity.