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In recent years, cloud computing has changed the way businesses of all sizes operate, allowing them to be more secure, agile, and effective when it comes to the computing and data storage aspect of their business.

What exactly is cloud computing, though, and what do business owners need to know about it? In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at cloud computing and break down its many features and advantages.

What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the process of using a network of off-site servers to store, process, and manage data as opposed to using an on-site server or a personal computer. These off-site servers are hosted on the internet so that the data can be accessed anywhere, and they are managed by a third-party who then charges a fee to use them.

Types of Cloud Computing
There are several types of cloud computing that a business can put to work, and each has its own set of purposes and functions. These types of cloud computing are:
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

IaaS is the most common type of cloud computing used by businesses. IaaS cloud computing services offer data storage and virtual servers. In other words, they function as a business’s IT infrastructure, allowing them to store and manage their data on the cloud.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

If a cloud computing service offers some form of a development platform that enables businesses to design and execute specific applications then it is said to be a PaaS service. PaaS cloud computing provides businesses with a cloud-based development environment that they can use to create new software.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS is a form of cloud computing that is used by end-users as much as it is businesses. Nevertheless, SaaS still offers plenty of advantages to businesses of all sizes. SaaS offers access to software without having to pay an expensive licensing fee or design the software yourself. Common SaaS tools include Google Docs and Gmail.

Advantages of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers businesses a number of important advantages. Some of the most noteworthy of these advantages include:

Increased Security
Cloud computing services often have more resources that they can devote to security than a small to medium-sized business would have. This means that data stored on their servers is less likely to be stolen or otherwise compromised than data stored on a local server.

Easier Collaboration
Managing your data on the cloud makes it easy for you to collaborate with employees and partners all over the globe. Since the data can be accessed anywhere, cloud computing makes for a much more connected workforce, especially when it is coupled with workflow management tools that show changes in real-time.

Less Expense
Storing your data on the cloud requires much less of an upfront investment than storing data on a local server. Rather than having to purchase large amounts of expensive hardware, cloud computing enables you to store and manage your data by paying an affordable subscription cost. Since cloud computing services operate on the principle of economy of scale, they are able to offer service that is superior to what you would get if you bought your own servers while still remaining more affordable as well.

Increased Agility
The current state of modern business dictates that successful companies must be incredibly agile. The demands of the customer, disrupting trends, and other factors are all changing so rapidly now that businesses that are unable to quickly adapt are often left behind. Cloud computing services, though, are well-equipped to keep up with these changes and strive to give their customers access to all the latest and greatest technology. This enables businesses of all sizes to leverage technology that was once only available to large companies and remain agile in the face of an ever-changing market.

Freed-Up Resources
Managing a local server takes a lot of know-how and man-hours. By turning over the tasks associated with managing servers to a cloud computing service, you are able to free up employees to devote more time and resources to other tasks.

Improved Reliability
Having your servers go offline for even a short period of time can prove incredibly costly, grinding your business to a halt and forcing customers to go elsewhere. Without an immense amount of effort and expense, though, local servers often experience an unsettling amount of downtime. Good cloud computing servers, though, offer 24/7/365 access and guarantee 99.99% reliability.

How to Move Your Data to the Cloud
If you decide that cloud computing is the right choice for your business, the first step in moving your data to the cloud is to choose a service provider. As already mentioned, there are several types of cloud computing services to choose from, and within each one of those types, there are a number of great providers each with there own set of features and advantages that must be considered.

Once you’ve chosen a provider, actually transferring all of your data from a local server to the cloud can sometimes be a difficult process. Unless you employ a sizable, capable IT staff, you may be better served by outsourcing this process to an IT service that can help you quickly and efficiently transfer all of your company’s data to a cloud computing provider that offers all of the features you need. Another advantage of this service is that shortens the learning curve by providing training to you and your employees on how to make the most of cloud computing.

Today, cloud computing provides a number of key advantages, especially to small to medium-sized business. If you would like to learn more about how we can aid you in making the switch to cloud computing, feel free to contact us today.