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What Can Cloud Computing Do for Your Business Do you know what cloud computing is? Recent surveys find over half of businesses owners don't, which is a shame since most businesses are already using cloud-computing services -- without even realising it.Importantly for businesses, cloud computing offers cost-effective ways to manage technology and grow, while preserving capital and improving productivity.What is cloud computing? Just like millions of water drops combine together to create a raincloud, cloud computing is a collection of low-powered PCs assembled to create a super powerful computer system.When you do a search on Google, the fast results are due to the hundreds of thousands of computers in their eight data centres around the world. Those computers working together have more power than the world's bigger supercomputer -- at a fraction of the cost. Cloud Computing Because these "clouds" of computers make providing online services so cheap, it makes it easier for companies to offer software and data storage to customers at a low price over the Internet.Cloud computing is driving almost every online service we've become used to in recent years. Google's searches to Facebook's status updates and Amazon's online stores are all run on the cloud.How does the cloud help businesses? The big advantage for business is cloud services do away with the need to spend money up front on computer software since most online providers charge by the month, which frees up capital. Cloud Services Another advantage is there are usually no fixed costs, so you can add or reduce licenses as work ebbs and flows, meaning there's no reason to have spare computers or expensive unused software sitting around between projects.Cloud computing also extends the life of IT systems; most online services only require a web browser to work, rather than needing the latest and fastest computers like most desktop software.For staff, cloud services give the opportunity to work away from the office, which improves productivity and makes a business more flexible. Cloud Computing Company What type of software can be run on the cloud? Any software that runs on a computer can go onto the cloud. Business applications include office suites like Microsoft's Office 365 and Google Apps, accounting services like Saasu and Xero and Customer Relationship Management tools like Salesforce and SugarCRM.Many cloud applications are helping businesses do things they may not have had the time or resources to do before. Services like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor are making newsletters easy and Survey Monkey and Formstack create quick customer surveys.The downsides of the cloud Naturally, there are some downsides with cloud services, the obvious being that you need a reliable Internet connection to use them. If you're going to be on planes or at remote locations, the cloud may not work for you. Cloud Computing For You also have to trust the provider with your data and that they will allow you to download your own information and take it elsewhere. There's also the risk that your account could be suspended if you breach their terms of service.Overall though, the cloud offers great opportunities for business owners. It's worthwhile having a look at what services are available for your business and how they can save money, while at the same time improving your office's efficiency.Paul Wallbank is is a broadcaster, speaker and author looking at how businesses can grow and profit in a world where our customers, workers and markets are moving online.
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