If you have been in business long enough, you may remember the days of massive mainframe computers stored away somewhere, with numerous “dumb” terminals connected to it so people could share computing power. Today, you most likely carry around a phone that is significantly faster and more powerful than the mainframe computers from back in the day.
Yet some modern business computing applications require more computing power than what a typical PC or laptop provides, and must be run on servers with sufficient number-crunching ability. It wasn’t that long ago that companies that wanted to run demanding software had to invest in their own servers – something that often represented a major capital outlay even before the software could be loaded onto them. The cloud has changed all that.
The Cloud and How It Is Revolutionizing Business
In its simplest terms, “the cloud” is computing power located elsewhere and accessed over the web. There are still servers running complex software, but someone else takes care of them and keeps the software upgraded. You, meanwhile, access that software through your broadband connection.
Form Software run in the cloud largely gets rid of the up-front capital outlay involved with the old paradigm of buying servers and loading the software onto them. Cloud software is generally sold on a subscription basis. If three people need to use a particular cloud app, you buy three subscriptions and pay for them on a monthly or yearly basis. It’s simple and has opened up small business possibilities that were unthinkable ten years ago.
The “Firmament” Is Important as the Cloud
While it’s only understandable that small business owners would be excited by the possibilities of the cloud, there are some key concepts to bear in mind. For one, not all cloud software providers are of equally high quality. You still have to perform due diligence to choose the best provider for your needs. You also must thoroughly understand the provider’s security and computing capabilities to be certain they meet your needs.
One of the biggest concerns in the early days of the cloud was security. Was it safe to have your data crunched by servers located elsewhere? Fortunately, cloud security has advanced to the point that in most cases it is sufficiently robust for business needs, and cloud software providers offer service level agreements and other checks and balances to help ensure data remains secure and that downtime isn’t an issue.
Your Broadband Needs
Just because most or all of your business software is run in the cloud doesn’t mean you can equip your business on the cheap. You have to have a fast, dependable broadband connection with its own service level agreements. While a one- or two-person business run from a home may be able to get away with a residential broadband connection, most other businesses cannot.
One of the main reasons is that with business broadband, not only are there service level agreements in place to guarantee uptime, business broadband connections are more often “symmetrical,” which means they offer upload speeds just as fast as download speeds. With residential connections, upload speeds are often significantly slower than download speeds because residential users download more than they upload.
Your Hardware Needs
Assuming you have a powerful enough broadband connection that you won’t experience problems with lag when using cloud applications, it’s time to turn your attention to the machines your employees use. The least expensive laptops and tablets may not be as fast or have as much RAM as you need to use cloud applications smoothly. You don’t necessarily have to buy top-of-the-line machines with capabilities you’ll never use, but you should invest in high quality, fast IT hardware, with more-than-generous hard drive space wherever possible to prevent slow-downs and help ensure you’re not replacing equipment frequently.
Businesses of all sizes and in all industries use workflow automation software to systemize work processes in every department and ensure consistency and quality. Workflow solutions used to have to be run on the premises on private servers, but today cloud-hosted workflow solutions put tremendous power into the hands of small business owners.
PerfectApps is cloud-hosted workflow automation software that lets non-technical users create flawless online forms and workflows without programming. Custom processes for HR functions, IT services, building maintenance, and just about any work process you can think of can be systemized and made maximally efficient with PerfectApps. We encourage you to watch the PerfectApps demo video and witness for yourself what today’s cloud business software can accomplish.