What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing has been around for a few years now but until very recently the take up has been slow and steady. As more suppliers have entered the market, customer awareness has risen about the benefits and the costs are starting to come down.

So what is cloud computing? Cloud computing is a fairly generic term but essentially it covers applications and web-based tools that are accessed via the internet rather than having them on your workstation, laptop or server.

Businesses are being attracted to cloud computing because of the accessibility, cost savings, flexibility and the convenience of automatic updates.

Accessibility: With cloud-based infrastructure you can access your applications from just about anywhere, you just need internet access. Great if you have employees working out of the office (e.g. salespeople, home based workforce).

Cost Savings: One of the more considerable cost savings is not having to purchase servers or in some cases software (some software is bundled through the supplier). Also save money by not needing to rely heavily on IT staff or consultants.

Flexibility: Cloud computing vendors make it easy to change your infrastructure as your business changes. Need more disk space or new applications the vendors can change your infrastructure without expensive setup costs all for a monthly fee.

Updates: As technology advances software is always being updated. Cloud computing gives you immediate access to updates and new developments.

CRM (client database) – Salesforce.comThere are a number of applications that are available covering areas such as CRM, email, back up, PABX, and project management to name a few. For example:

Email – Gmail

Back up – BizProtect

PABX – Fonality

Project Management – Basecamp

The only problems for small businesses based in rural areas like ours is we become 100% reliant on our internet connection to access applications and support issues are no longer dealt with internally. Cloud computing will use up your bandwidth (internet data usage) quite quickly on low level plans, so high speed, high data plans are mandatory. If you have a technical issue you will be at the mercy of the supplier so finding a reputable supplier in a new market is critical to minimising potential downtime.

As a result, over the next 5-10 years I could imagine a number of businesses will look to implement a hybrid strategy. Keep the critical applications in house and a few conventional phones for ‘insurance purposes’, while having the majority of their phones and non-essential applications in the clouds. Once the NBN has come online small businesses will find it very hard to ignore the benefits of cloud computing.

Richard Kemp – Watts Price Accountants
E: richardk@wattsprice.com.au

The advice provided on this Article is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.